Steps to Networking – Step 27: Confusion

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 5th, 2010

STEP 27: Confusion

We all go through times when we are unsure or vague about our what we want. It happens to everyone. Usually, it occurs when our ideas have not crystallized and we have not fully researched or thought them through. Frequently, we only know that we need a job, would like to attend college or find a place to live, but we haven’t settled on a specific career, particular colleges or acceptable neighborhoods. In many cases, we have not yet identified the steps we should take to reach our goal. We may know that we need help, but we are not sure what kind of help we need nor who can help us.

At this point, many quit; they make no attempt to move forward. Others tend to take some action, to play it by ear without a plan. They usually put the cart before the horse because they delude themselves into thinking that they will recognize the “right thing” when they see it, which unfortunately isn’t always true. It’s hard to see the “right thing” when you don’t know what you’re looking for.

In networking, your requests must be specific.

• First, specific requests enable you to communicate more clearly. When targets quickly understand your request, they are more likely to deliver what you need or promptly refer you to others who can. When you are uncertain, your targets will also be uncertain and less able to deliver what you want. When well-meaning contacts are forced to guess what, it’s usually a disaster. Most of the time, confused contacts do not provide any real help, their valuable time is wasted and they will be reluctant to extend themselves for you in the future.

• Second, networking works best when you request help from targets who are experts and well connected in specific fields. If you haven’t identified your purpose, how can you identify the best targets? When contacts wander outside their area or expertise, they generally are less successful.

If you are unclear about what you want, figure it out before you go any further. Use the space below to compile a list that will help you define your purpose. List below:

1. Your ideal: the best possible job, college, home, etc. that you could desire
2. The factors that make it your ideal. List the factors in order of their importance. For example, if you got that design job, you could work from home, help out with the kids and save some child care costs.
3. Your bottom line, the least that you would be willing to accept

YOUR IDEAL THE FACTORS BOTTOM LINE ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Examine your list to determine whether your wishes are realistic. If they are unrealistic, determine what you could do to make them viable. Could they be attainable if you had more training, experience or time? Are the shortcomings things that you could or want to overcome? Do you have better alternatives? Is it worth it to you?

Also ask whether the factors that shaped your ideals are otherwise attainable. If so, decide whether it would be easier, wiser or more rewarding to pursue those options. In you analysis, you may find that certain factors are more important to you than your ideal. In that case, it may be wiser to adjust your ideal.

If, after completing this exercise, you can’t identify your purpose, seek guidance. We’ve all been lost, confused or just stuck in ruts. Most of the time, a good talk or two with close friends, family members, mentors and business associates will help you work it through. But sometimes, the ruts are just too deep. In that event, consider contacting professionals who are in the business of providing expert guidance and advice. Consider their fees a sound investment in your future.

(Excerpted from NETWORKING MAGIC: Making Connections That Will Change Your Life By Rick Frishman and Jill Lublin With Mark Steisel)

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