BUSINESS NETWORKING: THE ULTIMATE CIRCLE JERK?
As you explore the post-corporate business world, finding the right business networking groups will be critical to your success. The hidden key to business bliss? Selecting the right inner circles. Proceed with caution; surround yourself with kindred spirits, who respect both you and your craft, and you’ll thrive. But, if you build a name among the wrong circle of peeps, then you may encounter a series of misadventures.
BUSINESS NETWORKING WARNING: WORKING WITH JERKS IS THE ULTIMATE CIRCLE JERK
Unfortunately, the ultimate circle jerk is all too common among Ex-Execs who are hungry for business and want to establish a name outside of corporate. Here’s a typical scenario. You are introduced to a new prospect who dangles a “money-in-the-bank” carrot (Remember the elusive golden ring on a merry-go-round?). You begin collaborating and your gut screams “Warning Will Robinson, this guy can’t be trusted”. But, you continue because it “feels like” income you can count on. Meanwhile, every time the client calls or sends an email, your stomach twists and contorts like a burnt soft pretzel, and you can’t wait until the project is history.
Alas, your work works, and more work arrives. Pretty soon, the word about you spreads to your client’s inner circle, and you become hot property on the wrong streets of desire. The net-net? You pay a steep price for receiving more work: non-stop misery. Instead of working with just one asshole, your entire week is spent dealing with jerks. Hence, it’s the ultimate circle jerk.
Moi? I’ve been the master of circle jerks. It’s funny in hindsight; many Woody Allenesque episodes. But the actual close encounters of the wrong kind delivered many nightmarish days, nights and weekends.
11 SMART ACTIONS TO COUNTER BUSINESS NETWORKING RED FLAGS.
- Before you say yes to a project, make sure your gut says yes to the person who is offering the opportunity. Do not put on your rose colored glasses. Wear your James Bond spy glasses and probe for the red flags.
- Beware of anyone who immediately calls you “chief or buddy.”
- Say no to any “handshake only” agreement. A handshake that doesn’t translate into a written agreement is a huge danger sign.
- Take a deep gulp and say no to anyone who continually courts you with casual drinks and continues to pick your brain for a hamburger and beer. If someone is truly offensive, politely reply: “You can no longer pick my brain, but if you are still looking for tasty tidbits, you can pick my nose.”. Case closed.
- Never start a job without getting at least 50% up front. Make sure the check clears. Never take “the check is in the mail” bait.
- Watch out for scope creep. Make sure your initial SOW is crystal clear on what’s in and out of scope. Yes, you can engage in a favor or two, but don’t make it a habit.
- Keep an eye on time creep. Honoring your time and the agreed upon schedule is imperative. If there are signs of time creep—endless emails, calls, texts, meetings—nip it in the bud, ASAP.
- When you hear the words “rush job,” make sure you get paid accordingly. Never agree to a timetable you cannot meet.
- Lack of authority? Does your contact have the power to make final decisions or not? Look for signs and take action if needed.
- The silent client? If your contact suddenly goes silent or acts differently than usual, it could be a sign that the project is in danger. Put on your dog nose to sniff out signs if your contact is nervous and the project is moving in the wrong direction.
- The late payment. Once one payment arrives late, count on future delayed payments. Payment terms continue to be one of the trickiest and most stressful components of being on your own.
Agree? Disagree? All comments are always appreciated.
All the best,