As I write this, I realize that you may be reading this around Father’s Day.

An interesting thing about growing up with my dad is that he looked at every minute he spent with us as an opportunity to have influence. Largely, I think, because we didn’t spend much time together. I was of the generation of children of divorce before shared custody and weekly moves between homes, which meant we saw Dad on Sunday afternoons.  

In my memory, those Sundays were dominated by two things. Football and etiquette. It may not seem obvious, but they have a good bit in common. In particular, there’s a playbook for both and good players learn how to follow it.

What does this have to do with networking? A lot, because many of you are missing one of the most important rules in the networking “playbook.” The thing that if you fail to do it, nothing else you do will matter. Seriously.

I’m talking about saying “thank you.” Not just saying it, but how you say it and when you say it. 

My dad taught me to thank people for everything they do, including their job. If they go out of their way for you, then you go out of your way to thank them. Early and often!

When it comes to networking, this is where I see so many people drop the ball. Do you know what usually happens after that beautifully worded email asking for a quick conversation, and that interesting exchange I have with many people who ask me to provide an introduction or help with networking? NOTHING. Nada. Zilch.

Which is an incredible lost opportunity. My rule? No thank-you note, no introduction, even if I promised one. Why?

I don’t want to ask my connections, whom I consider a treasure, to help someone who doesn’t know the playbook, and might embarrass me, or them, down the road. 

The thank-you should come within 24 hours. With email there’s no excuse not to, but if for some reason you are off the grid, send it as soon as possible, and apologize for the delay. It should be specific about what you appreciate. If someone says they’ll provide an introduction, remind them of that in your email, and say you’re looking forward to it. 

A thank-you note can also be sent twice! Yup, it’s a great opportunity to reconnect and remind someone about you.

“Hi Dave, I was just reminded of our conversation a few months back and how generous you were with your time. I’ve taken your suggestions, and I have an interview coming up with Asion. Thanks again for your advice – it’s really made the difference!”

This is how you can build a network of career champions!

Now, if you are fortunate enough to be able to do so – call your father. You might even say thank you.


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