Houston, we have a problem. We got hit with rejection and we’re now entering the black hole of self doubt. Not to worry, Part 3 in our series is here!
Here are tangible tips to explore if you're a beginner, intermediate or advanced networker. Plus, 4 steps to take if you've been hit with rejection.
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From series: How to take your career from ho-hum to blast-off!

Flying through an asteroid field of network rejection

Part three of the series: How to take your career from ho-hum to blast-off!

Houston, we have a problem. We got hit with rejection and we’re now entering the black hole of self doubt.

Like learning any new skill, when we enhance our networking skills, we should expect to have some growing pains. When reaching out to someone new, there’s always a possibility of rejection, or worse, utter silence. We need to be prepared for it, and be open to critical feedback.

Go on a discovery mission

Small experiments, with a no-pressure goal of simple discovery, can be a great way to test out if an approach will work and get some feedback, without leaving a trail of poor impressions.

Below are some suggestions of ways to test out a relationship building approach, starting from whatever level you’re at currently.

If you’re a beginner – Find a few posts on LinkedIn that you like, engage with it, and try connecting with the authors including a message saying that you like their post and why. Then, ask for the connection.

If you’re intermediate – Search on LinkedIn for someone that works at a company where you’re interested in working. With your connection request, let them know why you are reaching out and ask if they are able to recommend someone to connect with, who is in the area you are looking to work in, so you can ask a few questions about what it’s like to work in that department.

If you’re advanced – You likely already have many relevant connections on LinkedIn, and a specific direction you want to head towards. Try arranging a quick chat with one of your connections. Have some relevant questions ready to get your conversation started, and you can even take it a step further by sending the questions in advance.

Shields up – you can take some hits and keep going.

Sometimes, even when we think our stars are aligned, things don’t go as planned. We get told “no,” or could be left ghosted and feel like we’re just floating with uncertainty in the abyss.

It’s ok to land on Planet Down-in-the-dumps for a nanosecond, but then switch your mindset to realize you’ve had a learning experience and focus on improving your connecting skills...

1. Evaluate what you could do better. Was your approach too strong, too soon? Did you make a self-serving ask without having earned the right to seek their support? Did you make an assumption that may have put them off?

2. Take the time to clear your head. Go for a walk, play with your kids, or do an activity you enjoy, until you get back to a positive energy.

3. Tweak your approach and try again with a different contact, or in another area.

4. Try and maintain perspective. Was the timing not right? Were you not connecting with the best person? Sometimes there are factors that you can’t control, or may never understand.

Good news – you’re now closer to your goal. What many people don’t realize is that every moment we spend with someone – good or bad – is a step towards a stronger relationship. We can be rejected and still go on to grow that connection in another area. For instance, let’s say you have a job interview with Joe Manager at Network Inc., and you don’t get the job. If you feel like the interview went well and the company would be a good fit, then consider that experience as a foot in the door for a role in the future. Ask if you can stay in touch and if yes, then do so. You’re now ahead of most other candidates Joe would consider for his next role, or refer for a similar role. Your post-interview follow up can make a world of difference.

Above all, try not to take the response (or lack thereof) too personally. We know, we know, easier said than done. If you tend to stall at any sign of rejection, try and stand in the shoes of the person you’re reaching out to. How many times have you missed an email, or thought, I’ll come back to that, and never do? It might not be a true signal of “no,” it might just mean, “not right now.”

Explore the unknown

The more we push ourselves, the easier it gets, and the further we are able to go. The world is changing and our comfort zones can be disrupted at the speed of light. Don’t wait to be hit by an asteroid, be proactive and push yourself bit by bit until you feel like you’ve got a network that’s strong enough to get you to Mars and back in one piece.

Coming soon: Part 4 – customizing for your audience.


:: Co-written by Maryn Wallace, Network Enabler and Client Services Lead at Deloitte Canada, and Yvonne Lines, Freelance Creative Director, Career Connector and Founder of www.SmartLife.tips

Having worked with countless combinations of consulting professionals on winning pitches, Maryn and Yvonne have come to identify a number of limiting beliefs that commonly hold us back in our individual careers and client interactions. Drawing on Maryn’s obsession with finding the human-ness in business, and Yvonne’s expertise in solo-preneurship, these two creative leaders are joining forces to share their tips on how to effectively and authentically navigate your network.