With a college degree behind me, letters after my name, and a killer resume I was certain I would find a job sooner than later. Unfortunately, it is much harder than it used to be. The economy this, the economy that… it has become “who you know” in a dog eat dog world.
I have had the privilege of meeting great people through the steps I took in practicing networking, which I would recommend to anyone to start now and stick to it! What I failed to mention in my blogging about my experiences in networking is that there are boundaries that come with differentiating people as friends and as contacts.
The hard lesson I learned is a contact can become a friend, but a contact is not always your friend. Please let me elaborate. Most of the contacts I have met have been through networking events, mutual friends or other contacts, jobs, or internships. The key word is met.
For a contact I find on LinkedIn or Twitter, I am communicating with them but have not met them yet. If the communication leads to a meeting, then the connection can evolve. If a meeting does not happen, then do not force it. If I have met him or her already, the communication has a familiar setting.
There is no right or wrong way to network with someone and genuinely want to stay in communication with him or her. The friendships will form naturally, while contacts are there to promote you in support of what you are going for in life. It would be awesome if your friend was in your contact list and was supporting you in your career choices as well, but this does not always happen. We are all human with similar thoughts and feelings. Do not take the boundaries to heart or allow them to get you discouraged. Some contacts are as friendly and eager to help you as you are to them. In the end, some people just might surprise in a positive way.
Signs to tell if Your Contact is Just a Contact:
• He or she is not a friend on Facebook.
• You only know him or her on social networking sites (LinkedIn, Twitter, Triberr, Pinterest, etc.)
• You have sent a thank you card to them for helping you out. (e.g. referring you, job lead, advice, etc.)
• You have asked if he or she can introduce you to another contact within the same job or field (if you know he or she already knows the contact).
• Contact mentions the communication between you and him or her has crossed the line or has become inappropriate.
• Contact does not respond to your e-mails, phone calls, or letters. Ever.
• Contact responds to you and asks you to refrain from communicating with them again.
• Contact repeatedly asks how you know him or her.
Signs Your Contact can become a Friend:
• You want or have added him or her as a friend on Facebook.
• You want to call him or her and invite them to lunch to catch up.
• You schedule time to catch up over the phone if lunch is impossible.
• You update him or her on your interests or changes in direction you are taking.
• Contact is receptive to your communication efforts.
• Contact asks specifics how the last update you gave is progressing.
• Contact accepts your friend request on Facebook, follows you on Instagram, follows you on Twitter, recommends on you on LinkedIn.
• Contact encourages you with your concerns and experiences.
What are some ways you have differentiated a contact from a friend? Or have evolved a contact into a friendship?
This is a foray into some honest discussion about stuff we’ve all encountered in the age of online networking. If you haven’t encountered any of this, you’re either a master of digital socialism or not trying hard enough.
This article was originally crafted and published in May on the Ad Buzz.