Networking Hope Becomes Networking Failure

This is a series about getting your life back on track and achieving your goals.

I got a hit!

I was networking like crazy. I started with the names and numbers given to me by an executive recruiter with whom I’d done business. This led me to a wealth manager who introduced me to a lawyer and a CPA. Each of these people gave me names of more people.

Getting Meetings Was Tough

My pitch was simple, “I am looking for help finding my next opportunity. Can you give me some people who might help me?”

I would call each of them and lead with the name of the person who’d recommended them. This approach almost always resulted in a return call. Getting a meeting was a lot tougher.

I found people were motivated to meet with me for one of three reasons. One, they thought I could help them. Two, they could help me. Three, as a favor to the person who sent me.

I tried to make these meetings meaningful and productive by doing some research on their business and by getting clarity on how they might help me.

If they were meeting with me because of the person that sent me, I wanted our meeting to reflect well on the person who gave the referral.

I Had a BIG Problem

I was trying to come up with a clear definition of what I wanted. But I wasn’t there yet. This was a problem. A big problem, as you’ll soon see.

When I first started the networking, I was pretty bad at it. My biggest issue was my inability to answer the simple question, “How can I help you?”

I didn’t know what I wanted to do or with whom I wanted to do it. I quickly discovered these were not the people to help me sort out my career. They were busy, and their business wasn’t counseling.

After learning this lesson, I became better with each call and each meeting. I became more focused and realistic. I needed a job. I had a family to support, and my resume said I was a general manager of services companies focused on the F500 and also vertical market software companies.

My Network Paid Off, I Thought

I networked my way to banking software company founder Ron Antinori. Ron founded Antinori Software, a company focused on a bank’s check processing operation. He was a pioneer in check imaging. I knew nothing about banking, but I understood vertical marketing. We hit it off immediately.

He was thinking of creating a new position of president. He was a banking products guru who was also uniquely gifted as an extrovert. He was well known and respected in the banking tech marketplace. He’d built his company to $5mm in sales and needed help growing it. He had too many people reporting to him and was bogged down in the day-to-day.

But he wasn’t sure he wanted a president. And if he came to believe this was the right decision for him and his company, he wanted to be sure I was the right guy. He wanted to be sure we could work together long-term.

I Passed the Trade Show Test

We came up with a plan to see if I was a good fit. I would accompany him to an upcoming trade show in Dallas. He would introduce me to his contacts as a consultant to Antinori Software. This would give me a chance to get into meaningful conversations with the marketplace, both prospects and competitors.

After passing this test, he wanted me to be interviewed by all his key employees. One by one, they came into his office to interview me. I enjoyed meeting the great team he had created. It was a company I was getting excited about.

He then said, “I am terrible at evaluating people. Because of this, I have contracted with a behavioral psychologist who tests potential employees. He has been excellent in helping me hire the right people and retain them. I want you to be tested. OK?”

I FAILED the Psych Test

We both assumed everything was a go. We set a start date, and I went off to do the testing and interview with the psychologist.

The day before I was to start, Ron called me and said, “I have some really bad news. I can’t hire you.”

“Are you kidding me? What changed your mind?” I asked.

“The psychologist said you can’t work for me. You are a big picture guy, and I’m a detailed guy. I can work for you, but you can’t work for me. He said I would be asking you for information I think is important and you think isn’t,” he explained.

“He convinced me it will never work. I’m pulling the offer. I’m sorry.”

Starting Over Again

I was back to square one. I was devastated. It had taken me almost three months of networking to find this job. Just like that, it was gone.

It was all I had. I was depressed. No leads, no network, no job, and a family to support.

I went back to praying.