Take Care the TCB

Entrepreneurs, Opinions, Public Relations Posted Apr 6, 2015 by chenpr

A few years ago I got an email from a former colleague. It had been a while since I’d heard from this person, but the name in my in-box was not an unwelcome sight. The note contained some pleasantries and reminiscences, but was otherwise unremarkable. I responded and didn’t think much more about it.

The next day I received an email from another co-worker, one I’d previously managed, who was friendly with the colleague who’d reached out the day before. The message was similarly pleasant, but included a request that I serve as a job reference. I agreed—happily so—and when the expected reference check came a few days later, I gave an appropriately positive response, sent a heads-up to let my former charge know and added a simple request: let me know how everything goes.

kapowBut I never heard back. Not even a thank you.

The experience was disappointing. Not because I came away feeling like I’d been played (the pair had clearly worked in tandem), but because for lack of a simple acknowledgement, two people for whom I’d had fond memories ruined the good feelings.

arethaThe lesson is a simple one when engaged in business networking, and Aretha Franklin said it best: R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Take care the TCB. If your actions in the short-term convey a lack of respect for the people you meet, your prospects for a long-term relationship will suffer. And if you develop a reputation as a selfish networker, they’ll suffer all the more.

In a recent issue of the Boston Business Journal career expert Dana Manciagli touched on the (sadly) common problem of conveying a lack of respect when networking and how a lack of preparedness can be taken as a lack of respect for someone’s time. That’s true in any business situation. Winging it is never the right approach, but Manciagli offers a few tips to make requests more productive for everyone:
Be on time: there’s no worse way to start a meeting than to show up late. No excuses.
Bring pen and paper – and take notes: old school, but it demonstrates an active interest.
Send a prompt thank you: show your appreciation or risk being seen as a selfish user.
Continue the conversation: let the other party know about your progress and how you’ve helped them.

For most people, the good feelings they get from helping others is sufficient reward. After all, we’ve all been helped by someone at some point in our careers; the concept of “pay it forward” is usually at play when someone assists another in making a new business connection. When someone helps you, therefore, the worst thing you can do is to deny them the satisfaction of knowing the results of their actions.