How NOT to Network

Mortgage and Lending with Mason-McDuffie Mortgage, Conventional Loans, Jumbo Loans, FHA, 203(k), USDA, VA, NMLS #138061 MMCD #1141

How NOT to network


Networking (from Merriam-Webster) : The exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically :  the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.


     Did Merriam-Webster intentionally leave out "unsolicited bulk email" as a means of networking?  Should they have included "find emails on the internet and immediately solicit them"?  Or perhaps this definition came out before dialers were popular, and they should have added "put a person you've never met into your database & let a computer call them...if they want to talk with you they can press 1".  I'm almost certain the definition doesn't include any of these because that is NOT how to network.


     There are 2 key pieces of the definition that people seem to forget - the first is the word exchange.  To exchange means that both parties bring something to the table.  Your SPAM email and my email back to unsubscribe me doesn't count.  The second is the term "productive relationships".  What kind of productivity can really come from an email template that you send out to hundreds if not thousands of people with no prior research or information on them aside from their email address?


     It seems the people that fail the most at networking fall into 3 categories - networking whores, stranger danger, and the dreaded "friend zone".  All of them have different approaches, and all are shining examples of how NOT to network.


Networking Whores


     To the networking whore, it's all about quantity, baby.  Quality be damned!  If you've got an email address, let's do business!  The networking whore is notorious for seeking 'lists'.  Lists of Realtors, lists of LO's, lists of any profession really, and then sending out email blasts to everyone on the list - hundreds of thousands of the exact same email template to hundreds of thousands of very different people.


     It's a numbers game with the networking whore.  Sure, they may annoy the vast majority of people, but they don't care.  It only takes one person to bite.  And why spend time building relationships and learning about people and their business when you can just click 'send' instead?


Stranger Dangerstepbrothers best friends meme


     "Hey, I don't know you, and you don't know me, but come work for/with me!".  Stranger Danger networkers are Amber Alerts waiting to happen - sure, that company that just found you on linkedIN may have a $20K signing bonus, or some candy in their van, but if you get in, your pipeline is going to disappear.


     Credit repair companies and recruiters are notorious for the stranger danger approach - one minute it's a request to join your network, and the next second it's a templated email asking you to send clients or work for/with them.  Whoa buddy, hands off...what ever happened to first base & taking things slow?


     While networking whores are the most annoying type of wannabe networkers, stranger dangers are definitely the creepiest.  They have even visualized doing business together, having mutual clients, increasing their revenue through your referrals, and living happily ever after til death do you part.


     Stranger dangers are uncomfortably comfortable with asking for your business after a quick "Accept" on linkedIN or friend request on facebook.  No questions, no learning about your business, no conversation.  From strangers to lifelong business partners, in the click of a mouse.


The "Friend Zone"


     The networker that gets stuck in the friend zone has my sympathy.  They're really nice people.  What they have to offer is even pretty cool...we think.  They never really explained it well, but it looks cool.


     The "Friend Zone" networker is just calling to check in.  Always.  Always calling "just to check in and see how things are going".  They have MASTERED an accent that I believe is a mix of despair, hopelessness, and French.  They masterfully translate "Just checking in to see how things are" to a "I really, really...REALLY wish you'd send me some business" between their lips and your ears.


     The friend zone networker comes in many varieties - the more common ones are good people with no faith in their product, and the ones with good products and no faith in themselves.  They just cannot muster the ability to ask you for business nor tell you why doing business with them will benefit you.  Nor will they ask you questions that could lead to a productive conversation & business relationship, because they don't want to bother you or seem pushy.  But they'll always be there to check in and see how things are going.  And you'll tell them, because hey, every once in a while it's nice being asked how you are.


Nigerian Prince

     Every time rates go up and the mortgage market slows down, it never fails that I get inundated by networking whores & stranger dangers.  There's not enough time in the day to unsubscribe from everyone's list, and in the internet age, solicitations come from locally to as far away as Australia - yes, just this week an operation in Australia solicited me to send credit repair prospects their way...because they specialize in American credit!  The only way I'd send a valued client for help overseas is if it were a solicitation from the Prince of Nigeria himself.


     To be clear, I'm not referring to press releases, or marketing to an individual with an introduction.  The worst networkers are the ones who market to everyone & anyone in a very impersonal way.  Point being, if you work in an industry that relies on networking, or if your business model includes it, it's worth the time to learn how to do it effectively, and considerately.  How does one do that?  Well, that's a blog post for another day.


Looking to network with a lender that brings something to the table for Realtors, title companies, attorneys, financial planners, or local businesses?  Give me a call at 484.680.4852, or shoot me an email.  Especially if you're a Nigerian Prince!




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  1. Bob Crane 01/19/2014 07:52 AM
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Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher
I think a certain part of my business savvy has been attuned to stranger danger very well in the past few years and I'm grateful for it.
Jan 17, 2014 12:33 PM #10
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher
And overeagerness...
Jan 17, 2014 12:34 PM #11
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

John, I have been to classes that said to network with everyone that wants to network with you. Then others say pick and choose. Oh what to do. I tend to do a little of both. I want a connection in some way first. 

Jan 17, 2014 12:42 PM #12
Sandy Acevedo
951-290-8588 - Chino Hills, CA
RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale

Hi John, great post, but no fair. Let's see the other post on how to do it right.....     

Jan 17, 2014 01:03 PM #13
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

John - You really nailed every one in a very humorous way.  I love the recruiters on Linked In wanting to be my friend.

Now my take is to network but be sincere and expect to give back something.

Jan 17, 2014 08:03 PM #14
John Jonas
ReplaceMyself - Virtual Assistants - Highland, UT
John Jonas

Hi John,

When you start naming them based on what they  do, that's gotta hurt. What you wrote was both hilarious and informative. Makes you stop in between sentences just to remember that terrible marketing phone call I got.

Jan 17, 2014 08:12 PM #15
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Thank you for the great tips. We have to be careful on the internet and check out the companies we deal with

Jan 17, 2014 08:50 PM #16
Alex Popovic
Apex CRE - Phoenix, AZ
Alex Popovic Designated Broker Commercial RE


Great post and well put about breaking all the true.  I'm following you now and have seen your blogs featured several times, if you like, please do the same to me

Jan 17, 2014 09:31 PM #17
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

John, you sure summed up the networking categories. Both humorous and true. I believe I did get an email from the King of Nigeria the other day. He wanted to exchange my bank account number for several million dollars.

Jan 17, 2014 09:42 PM #18
Andre R. Aragon
Greater Tampa Real Estate Photographer - Tampa, FL
Real Estate Photographer

Hey John - Great post! As someone who has prospected via email for years with great success, I can say that a simple and respectful introductory email with the offer of services relevant to the receivers needs, goes over very well in 99.99% of the cases. Also following the CAN-SPAM Act just makes plain sense when emailing would-be clients about legitimate service offerings.

I've often wondered how spammers and fishers think - I guess it is indeed just a numbers game for them. A fool is born every minute after all...

Jan 17, 2014 10:02 PM #19
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Everyone on the NET is signaling to everyone else that their contact data is current. Right there we are now public fodder to be pursued and in some cases..eaten alive

Jan 17, 2014 11:05 PM #20
Amanda Christiansen
Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843 - Fort Wayne, IN
Christiansen Group Realty

Great blog here John.  I see this all the time with Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter.  Sometimes you see it here on ActiveRain too.  Networking should be a two way street.  Period.

Jan 17, 2014 11:19 PM #21
Kathleen Daniels
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
San Jose Homes for Sale-Probate & Trust Specialist

John, I wish you would not hold back. Please don’t be shy. Tell us how you really feel.  There are some folks here in the Rain that need to read this as well. You know, those that leave links in the comments and ask for your referrals. Now don’t get me started. (LOL)!


Jan 17, 2014 11:43 PM #22
Donna Foerster
HomeSmart Realty Group - Parker, CO
Metro Denver Real Estate Assistant

John~ I've "met" all of these "bad" networkers. I know I'm not a rockstar when it comes to networking, but I don't fall in to any of these categories! Phew!

Jan 18, 2014 01:44 AM #23
Thomas F. Scanlon
Borgida & Company P. C., CPA's - Manchester, CT


Sooo well said. Networking can be a challenge.  It seems that fewer, deeper relationships work best.

Have a great 2014.



Jan 18, 2014 03:38 AM #24
John Meussner
Mason-McDuffie Mortgage, Conventional Loans, Jumbo Loans, FHA, 203(k), USDA, VA, - Walnut Creek, CA
#MortgageMadeEasy Walnut Creek, CA 484-680-4852

Thanks all, appreciate comments & the gold star, hopefully a few of those bad networkers out there will read the comments here & learn something!

Jan 19, 2014 07:43 AM #26
Shannon Milligan, Richmond VA Real Estate Agent/Associate Broker
RVA Home Team - Richmond, VA
RVA Home Team - Winning with Integrity.

You know what SPAM networking that really gets me going? When they sign up on my website as a lead. Nothing makes me more angry. You see the email that someone signed up on your site, they sent you a message, and you can't wait to be of service. You open the email and...BAM! They want you to advertise with them or they can get you more leads. So frustrating.

I do a lot of the calling to check how things are because I really do care. Probably need to ask for the check more.

Jan 19, 2014 07:59 AM #27
John Meussner
Mason-McDuffie Mortgage, Conventional Loans, Jumbo Loans, FHA, 203(k), USDA, VA, - Walnut Creek, CA
#MortgageMadeEasy Walnut Creek, CA 484-680-4852

Shannon that drives me nuts, too!  I can't imagine what goes through someone's head, thinking deception is a good way to start a relationship!

Jan 19, 2014 08:26 AM #28
Bob Ratliff
Robert Ratliff Realty - San Antonio, TX
"Sold with Bob"

John, your just full of information today and I'm not sure what category I fall into? I'm not sure about your photo? Have a super duper evening and I'll see you tomorrow on AR social one never knows where our next client might come from.

Jan 19, 2014 08:34 AM #29
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

John this is an interesting and thoughtful post. I am reminded of a commercial on TV, don't remember the product, but a person passing a house where they were BBQing. They knock on the door and say, Hi, we used to live here.

I think that was funny, but not the way I want to do business.

Thanks for the post.

Feb 01, 2014 01:10 AM #30
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#MortgageMadeEasy Walnut Creek, CA 484-680-4852
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