With so many people out of work, underemployed or trying to get into the workforce, many of us who are gainfully employed are asked to help others set up introductions for them with our professional contacts. With social media being the rage and our Facebook “friends”, LinkedIn associates and Twitter contact database expanding faster than we can a keep up with, the question remains just how far should we go to help one of our friends or acquaintances with getting introductions to our database?
Most of us have spent years developing and nurturing our contact base. Great business networks are not created overnight, it takes years to develop a solid database of contacts where there is mutual trust. So, when someone you barely know asks you for an introduction to a company, what do you do?
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have all made it much easier to meet strangers. The reality is that we all are so busy building our database of people on these sites to gain a large audience, we are ignoring the fact that many of these people need us more than we need them and may use our coveted contacts for their own gain!
I have always been open to helping people where I can; yet, just recently I got burnt by a woman that I had met a few years back who I knew through a friend, but not well. She had recently lost her job and reached out to me about a company that she knew I had contacts with. She sent me a very convincing e-mail and her résumé looked good, so I sent her along to my contacts at the company where she desperately wanted to work.
It seemed that they were excited to have her work for them and I was pleased that I could help her and my business friends. The relationship between them proved to be short-lived. It seems that this person didn’t work out for she was bad-mouthing the owner of the company, sending disparaging e-mails about her bosses and swearing like a truck-driver!
When my business contact told me all of this, I wanted to hide under the table! Seems that this woman did everything wrong, most of all, not calling me and informing me about her unfortunate situation of getting fired. Her lack of protocol is appalling and got me thinking that going forward I will be very selective who I refer into a company.
It is unfortunate that I can not help others as I’d like, but my reputation with my contacts is on the line as is yours when you refer someone into a company. Be discerning as who you recommend and make sure to think of yourself first and foremost. Times are tough and your network of contacts is what will help you survive your career. Don’t waste it on individuals that are using you for your contact base, rather than adding value to your own career.