Saturday, March 08, 2008

How not to network

The other morning I was working away trying to get an urgent request completed for my boss. The phone rang and I answered it in my best happy government employee voice. The caller was looking for my predecessor, who I don't know. The first thing I wanted to clarify was if she was calling for the actual person (i.e. knew my predecessor and this was a personal call), or was calling for the role of my predecessor (in which case I would step in and assure the caller that I could do whatever work was required).

The caller assured me that she was calling for my predecessor, and I explained that I didn't have contact info for the person. The caller continued. She asked how long I had been in my position and when the other woman had left. I was getting annoyed. You don't call up someone and start grilling them on their position. Then she started talking about her experience in the field. I realized then [albeit it had taken me a while] that she was networking and job hunting. She proceeded to tell me all her experience and then ask me for my boss' contact info and THEN to ask when a good time for her to come in would be. Just to be clear, there is a subtle, yet highly significant, difference between being proactive and being inappropriate.

Right now my area is working constantly to meet deliverables which have all come due at once. We're getting it done, we're coping well, but we've been so busy that we haven't even had time to meet as a team regularly. When someone tells you that they are busy and don't have time to meet, be gracious and tell them that you'll get back to them when their schedule allows.

I have NO problem with someone calling about jobs. In fact I admire the woman for cold calling. But the process should have gone more like, " Hello is [person's name] there? No? Oh do you have her new contact info? Okay, well I'm looking for work and I would like you to keep me in mind." I even asked the woman to send me her resume and that I would keep it on file. And I meant it. Maybe she wrote my name down wrong but I never did get her resume. I hung up the phone feeling vaguely sad that this person is going to be frustrated in her job hunt and not understand why.


Dantallion said...

I'm still trying to get my head around the whole notion of government employees being "busy".

rapdily recedes back into cyberspace

(I am, of course, only joking. Well, sort of, anyway.) :)

mainja said...

Dan - don't make me smack you!

tornwordo said...

Dan made me laugh. Cold calling sucks, I feel sorry for her too.

Snooze said...

Dantallion: Oh you are BAD!

Mainja: You'll be in line behind me.

Torn: He has a way! Yes, overall I feel sorry for the woman too.