Speed Networking Can Kill

One of my favorite John Wooden quotes: Be Quick But Don’t
Hurry.

When you rush you make mistakes. Speed kills. I should know I have been a speed demon most of my life. I do believe that if you want to succeed you need to move and move quickly. Yeah the slow and steady tortoise can win the race but to qualify and compete in the race of life, you need to move. However, moving too fast, especially without thinking can hurt you. I have had many hard lessons, especially when I was younger, where I accelerated and ran right over my allies and opportunities. 
Speed kills

We are all so busy that we rarely distinguish the tasks on
our plate. Everything can be treated with the same value and care or lack thereof. That can be
disastrous.

Emails, text messages, and communications fly in at you at
hyperspace speed. You delete, forward, and reply with the best of them. But we
have to know when something requires a different pace and attention. Something
personal, sensitive and even emotional requires super slo mo. Otherwise you can
come off too transactional and cold. Haste truly makes landfills!

My first marketing manager had a love hate relationship with
my proliferation of ideas. He loved the diversity and the ability to  alter the reality we
faced. He hated my ideation and the versioning I might come up with. He stopped
me one day and said, “Speed, price or quality—pick two.” You may have heard
this, but at that time it was a wonderful chilling moment as a young
twenty-something manager. He was saying you can’t have it all and speed comes
with a cost.

We all learn, or suffer the consequences, to adapt to the
situations we encounter in the speed of life.

Last week, I encountered several speedsters, all of them
under 30, who made big blunders in trying to react to me too quickly.

  1. Cold
    e-mail intro leads nowhere
    –I contacted a young woman that I had met
    several times to see if she knew someone at a particular company. I was trying
    to make a connection for another acquaintance. I was researching who I knew who had
    the “warmest”/closest connection. When I inquired through social media, she
    said she did know someone (turns out not very well) and immediately made an e-mail
    intro. The abbreviated uninformative intro never worked and I never heard from
    that person. It was clear that my contact was trying to be helpful but in her
    speed she may actually have unwittingly done more harm than good. I later found
    a warmer connection to that same person and this acquaintance of mine handled
    it the correct way. They talked to me, they talked to my referee, and then they
    talked to the company contact. A real connection was made.
  2. High
    speed brand mis-management
    —I was introduced to an intern at a company I
    was visiting. It ended up we were waiting together in the conference room and I
    asked him, “Where were you before this?” I assumed that he would reveal the
    university he graduated from. He blurted out, “I got a useless masters degree
    to bridge me to this internship and then later I will get my MBA. I always
    wanted an MBA.” Huh? A million questions jumped into my head, but the inflection,
    body language, and overall demeanor of this young man screamed lack of
    confidence and even embarrassment. Did he know how much this hurt his brand? No
    pride in his accomplishment nor affinity with this masters program. I never
    learned the identity of this “useless” program. He seemed bright but his
    articulated storyline to a stranger was poorly delivered and thought through.
    His brand crashed and burned right in front of us.
  3. Failing
    to Prepare is Preparing to Fail (another Wooden quote)
    —Had an
    informational interview and quasi-mentoring session with a young man who wanted
    career advice. The focus of his inquiry was for-profit vs non-profit sectors.
    However, this 27 year old gentleman had not done any homework, no research, no
    introspection, no prep for our session. It was a frustrating time for both of
    us. He wanted me to tell him what to do and I wanted to know what he wanted.
    Seemed like he was so busy he neglected to remember how busy I am. So I asked
    many questions and he had no answers. Mentoring done well, is about the bigger
    questions of purpose and goals, not serving as a human Google search for
    careers.

Yes, in all three cases I gave these people feedback on what they said and did……

The point here is to make the time for the relationships that
matter. To stop and listen. They are not ALL another to-do item on your list. Get milk, balance check
book, make dental appt and get mentored. Get your story together. Think about
to whom you are speaking—a person who might be able to help you–even strangers. What is your first impression? Take time to make the actual connections–life is not a video game. 

Let’s be quicker but less hurried. Less transactional, more
personal. Make the effort to connect with the person in front of you. If you
don’t, the victim could be you.

Thanks for slowing down and reading. John

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