"We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are."
   — Talmud

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Why Some People Don’t Follow Up on Networking Contacts When They Know It’s in Their Best Interest

At our last meeting, we discussed why some people don’t follow up on their contacts — even good quality networking contacts.  During the course of our meeting, some explanations came to light Here are some of them plus a few I added on for good measure…

•      Fear of rejection: Even though someone has referred you to a good contact, you still hesitate. Why? Because of that innate fear of rejection that we all have buried down deep somewhere. One way to get around this is that after you make a couple of calls that go well, pick up the phone right away without thinking and call that person you were putting off calling.

•      Self-doubt: Roz Chast, the famed and quirky cartoonist for The New Yorker, probably expresses our sense of self-doubt better than anyone I’ve seen. Go take a look at some of her cartoons and you’ll realize just how wracked with self-doubt we all can be. Perhaps you’ll then realize how absurd or wildly magnified your self-doubt can be and then follow through as planned.

•     An a priori sense of failure: Some people can sit at their desk, look into the future as if it’s a deep, dark hole and see that they will fail…without a doubt. So why bother calling at all? Besides some meds, the best way to defeat this is to talk to yourself; chant your mantra; stand in the “champions” posture…and then just do it! If it’s going to end up all bad, it won’t hurt to call, now, will it!

•      ADD/ADHD: That magic acronym upon which one can blame all sorts of failings including following through on commitments to connect with someone. If you’ve got it in spades, it’s something you have to live with and work around; if you’ve got it in small doses, you can overcome it by constant effort and persistence. Just don’t go dealing your Ritalin to high school kids!

•      Inertia/Depression: These are tough to overcome, especially in the dark months of winter. So don’t put yourself down too much. A little lightbox therapy every morning, plenty of exercise, and, if necessary, one of those magic pills that are now prescribed to Americans by the boatload should help. Any little movement will help… as action begets action.

•      Rebelling at authority: Ok, someone told you to do something and you’ll be !@#$%^*! if you’ll let anyone tell you what to do. Sounds pretty adolescent doesn’t it? But I’ll bet your therapist might want to bring this up again and again until you realize that you’re sinking your own ship just to spite those infant authority figures. Not to mention the monsters in the closet. We miss you already, Maurice Sendak.

•      Analysis/Paralysis: This one is a beaut. And it’s damn hard to break. At any suggestion that one might contact someone to help them, the person immediately starts analyzing what will happen and that the contact really won’t be able to help them because after all… and on and on. They’re helpless to begin with. This is where the therapist bills get expensive. But we’ve seen people break out of this habit of obsessively negative thinking and get out and network and find a new job. You can, too.

•      The Neutral Zone: Finally, there is a far more amorphous, and far more long-lived in some cases, reason for not following through: “the neutral zone”.  The term was coined by William Bridges in his seminal book, Transitions, which was published in 1980. In it, he posits that in order to have a successful transition, you must go through three stages: first, a full ending to your past life, job, situation, etc.; second, a neutral zone in which you are locked into a space of seemingly no growth, no effort, nada; and, third, the beginning of a new life. A totally simplistic rendering of an elegant theory. But if someone suggests that you are in the neutral zone, while you are feeling down and out, take heed…and take heart. Having just come through one myself, I can promise you: you, too, will get there.

In fact, all of these reasons are just reasons: figments of our very active mental constructs. And many job seekers have overcome them and moved on. I know. I was one… and I’ve seen hundreds upon hundreds break these habits of thought. Just like you will, too.

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