Smart, enterprising businesspeople know the importance of networking and how it is a huge opportunity to increase word-of-mouth and gain business referrals. However, one of the biggest mistakes people can make is failing to follow through.
One of my employees recently told me a story that should serve as an important lesson to all of us on how networking without follow-through is nothing more than a waste of time.
Note: The names in this story have been changed to protect the innocent . . . and the guilty.
My employee, whom we’ll call Winnifred (since she’d like to remain anonymous and it’s the most unfitting name for her that I can think of . . . well, aside from maybe Gertrude ;-)), was in need of a graphic designer to assist her with the creation of a website for her father’s business. She attended a local networking mixer where she met a graphic designer, “Blake,” who seemed excited about the project and claimed he could accomplish exactly what she needed at a very reasonable price.
They exchanged contact information and connected the next week by phone to discuss the project in further detail. Winnifred was pleased with Blake’s ideas and liked the examples she’d seen of his work. She told him he seemed like the perfect person to help her with the project and that she’d like him to send her a price quote as soon as possible.
A week went by and Winnifred heard nothing from Blake. When she called him, he said he was working on a quote and gave some lame excuse about being busy. Another week went by and, again, nothing from Blake. Frustrated, but willing to give Blake another chance because she really did like his work, she sent him an e-mail and left him a voicemail saying that she would love to give him her business and was really anxious to hear back from him.
After two weeks went by without hearing back from him, Winnifred found another graphic designer. To this day, Blake has never responded.
Here is what blows my mind . . . I know for a fact that this guy, “Blake,” is still frequenting local networking mixers (which cost money to attend, by the way) trying to drum up more business. Yet when he had money practically sitting on the table in front of him, he failed to follow through. No matter what his reason was for not getting back to Winnifred–being too busy, too lazy or whatever else–he shouldn’t be out there networking if he can’t follow through on what he claims to be able to deliver. He’s wasting his time (and money) and, more important, he’s wasting other people’s time–which is earning him nothing more than a bad name.
The moral of this story: If you aren’t prepared to follow through, networking is no more than a big waste of time.
If you have a “Blake the Flake” story of your own, I’d love to hear about your experience. Please feel free to share your story in the comments section.