I once had a person, I thought was my friend, ask me to exaggerate and “Just stretch the truth a little. You know, a white lie.” The key word for me was lie. A lie is a lie regardless what color it is. The intended fabrication was a recommendation for a job. I refused. I was civil, but it was evident I wasn’t happy. He was disappointed. We’re no longer close. He wasn’t networking—he was hijacking our friendship. Don’t confuse networking with hijacking.
Are you a helper or helpless?
I believe in help networking—helping others first. It’s simple, before asking for help ask others how you may assist them. Being the selfishly needy friend isn’t being a friend, it’s using people. Let me be clear, there are times friends need help, and should ask for help, but friends that never help others aren’t friends they’re hijackers. Don’t confuse networking with hijacking.
What are your motives?
Have you ever had a friend invite you for coffee or a drink believing they wanted to visit or catch up on your friendship only to learn they had ulterior motives? I have friends, I wouldn’t think twice about helping, but I’d share my expectations of clarifying their intentions before meeting. Be straightforward, if your purpose is to ask for help, share that from the beginning.
The Sneak Club
As a child, my father instituted a sneak club. For membership, my siblings or I had to be caught sneaking. It wasn’t a club we wanted to belong to. The club meeting often was alone in our bedroom as the family played games around the table or watched the Ed Sullivan show. I’d like to reinstate the sneak club for people who try to sneak my connections, whether face-to-face or on social networks. If you want a connection ask, but be prepared if I think the connection is inappropriate and refuse to offer my help. To name drop without consent is a hijack. It’s sneaky. Don’t confuse networking with hijacking.
Don’t Steal Time and Talent
Have you ever had someone ask for help that would require an inordinate amount of your time? Most of us have, and for a good friend who is always there, it’s no problem, but sometimes it is. Don’t make it time-consuming and challenging for others to help you. Do the footwork. Make the preparations, Make it easy. For example, if you’re asking a friend to write a recommendation offer to outline or write an example for their approval. Don’t hijack others into doing all the work.
Networking shouldn’t be Demanding
Don’t ask anyone to lie for you, don’t steal connections, don’t expect others to do the work you should do, and put your motives on the table. Networking should be a positive helping experience, not a hijack. Have you been hijacked, what happened?