Sorry. It’s my Network Not Yours.


I often speak on networking to companies and organizations across the country and Canada.  I have been networking for years.  It is the primary fuel driving my marketing consulting career.

I am also one of the Co Founders of Laguna Niguel Connectors which was started in the deep depth of the recession.  I have spoken to many transition networks including CafeNet, Execunet, and Challenger Networking Groups on many occasions.

My best read blog remains Networking Tips for college students and young people who hate to network.  I have always had a strong bond with young people.

I like people.  That is why I love to network.  I hate to network with people who don’t have a clue about networking.  I still like you though.

This is for all those lost souls who really don’t understand the value of a network and how difficult it is to build one.  The time, the determination, the time, the resolve.  Yes when you want to go home you don’t.  When you don’t want to sleep a little later you don’t.  When you don’t want to drive that far you do.  You see building a network takes as much time as building a business. It has value and is not free. I built it and earned it. It is not yours.

My network is mine.  All mine and I get to choose who to share it with.  Not you.

Guess what.  The fact that we are connected on Linkedin with 150 million other people doesn’t give us a compelling bond as I have written in the past. In many ways, my time is more valuable than yours because my network is larger and more connected because it is not comprised of strangers.

If I have never met you don’t ask me for an introduction to somebody on Linkedin.

Even I have met you it doesn’t give you a pass to GO.

Please don’t ask me to e mail my data base to sell you stuff.  I don’t sell to my network.

Before you ask people to help you, help them.  It’s pretty easy.

If I have never worked with you don’t ask me for a recommendation on Linkedin.  Powerful Networks aren’t facades.  They are relationships.  Networking isn’t multilevel marketing. References are powerful because you provide a personal commitment through them.  You don’t give them to strangers.

The stronger your network, the more other people will want it.  It is easier for people to try to use mine or yours than to build their own.

There is no doubt that your network can be a very powerful force in your life. It will be much more powerful if you build your own versus using others.  Nobody likes to be used.

I’d rather teach people how to fish versus doing their fishing for them.  That is better for the lost networking souls in the end.  They may not get it until they get the networking light bulb moment.  It will probably not come from asking but from helping somebody.

I am always amazed how people are on the moon with what they think they are entitled to because we are connected in a digital way.  You would think people would get smarter as social media matures.  However it is not always the case.  You see behavioral etiquette applies to social networks as well.  The platforms may run on software but relationships are personal interactions.  We are not data bases but people in networking.

Maybe that is why Greta Garbo in the end said. “I just want to be alone.”

If you get it you can connect with Hank on Linkedin

Follow his updates on twitter @hankblank


Watch some videos on

Here is one on the Power of Networking. Enjoy.


34 thoughts on “Sorry. It’s my Network Not Yours.

  1. Great post!! It always amazes me when I get Linked In requests from a total stranger (which alone is fine I guess – though shouldn’t there at least be a note or something), but then next day I get e-mails from them asking for something from me like a referral or to buy their products. I have a very small network compared to yours so I can’t even imagine all the requests that you get. Networking is hard work and it takes time. This is a good reminder to all of us that personal connections is what is most important and not just the number of connections you have.

  2. Stephanie Odayen

    Selling products and services or asking for ghost recommendations – commonly known as “being used” – are not acceptable in any genuine communication where dialogue is the key.
    But it’s part of this whole virtual networking process to give one’s thought about topics of interest or request for insights to friends & professionals who may be unacquainted in real-life.

  3. OH, thank you for this post. I loathe connection poachers, gadflies, and groupies. Thank you, Hank. If I get a request from someone to connect and I can’t put a name with a face or a name with email or anything, we are NOT connected. We’ve done nothing to connect us and if we did, it wasn’t memorable enough. I’m VERY protective of my connections and stingy with recommendations. I value those who trust me enough to connect to me, as well.

  4. Susan LaBelle

    Amen, Hank! I was an early adopter of LinkedIn, but left because I was getting frequent requests from people I never met to recommend them for jobs–I was astounded. I came back to LI last year when I was convinced that things had changed and it was less likely to happen. I have been pleased to be back and am careful about accepting invites. There are still times when I am amazed at what people will ask of someone they don’t know well or just met, whether in person or online.
    Keep fighting the good fight–I like your straightforward style and enjoy your insightful posts.

  5. Brian

    Hear! Hear! Thanks for saying it, Hank. I am no network master by any means, but the people in mine are there to add value. Post jobs on job boards, keep your advertising out of the discussions (it’s a waste of time there anyway), and just because I “Like” you or “follow” you (or vice versa) or we have a “connection”, doesn’t mean we’re friends. Maintain a professional decorum and develop your connections to improve your network. The Queen of England won’t get you a job at Lloyds just because you’re in their extended “network”.
    Thanks for posting!

  6. Well written and powerful. I received it through a LinkedIn group email notification.

    The term ‘networking’ has a ominous connotation to me. It means something scary andfast unknown – to swim with sharks. But I guess the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

    Bottomline: no one likes the shady stereotypical used car salesman who’s just out for himself/herself.

  7. ‘Adding my voice to the chorus of those thanking you for your well-articulated candor! Whether it’s social media contacts, in-person connections, or the sacred “in-house” list of those who have been followers of my work throughout the past several decades, I couldn’t agree more about the FACT that *I* get to choose who, how, and if I connect people. It’s something I do quite easily and naturally when the fit is right. And like anything else, when someone is making assumptions or breathing the bad breath of “entitlement” on any level, it’s a quick “buh-bye” to them.

    On another level, it’s so interesting to observe people’s behaviors when deciding whether to participate in a co-authoring service I offer, of 14 people each participating in a single tips booklet. Some people want to know everything they can about the others in the booklet – name, age, blood type, favorite food, a thousand references to their character (okay, I exaggerate to make a point) and others come on board with the expectation of merely expanding their reach. One size will never fit all when it comes to humans. It’s up to us to pay attention, including knowing where to draw the line in the sand for our own boundaries.

    Good to “meet” you, Hank. I look forward to following your work and your point of view.

    Paulette Ensign

  8. Hank, very well stated. Particularly irritating are those “poachers” who send out an email blast to all their contacts, known or unknown, asking for a connection to someone is a particular company where the sender has applied for a job. This says a lot about the person and just how hard they’re not willing to work at developing and nurturing their own network.

  9. Good post, Hank. Thank you.

    I was just about to say ditto to all of the above but now I feel I must address the previous statement by Jerry Miller.
    When I apply for a job, I look through my contacts for any relevant connections. I don’t ask them to recommend me, just to give me a name or sometimes an email.
    This is what my network is for. About 75 percent of my contacts know me and my work. That’s why they linked with me!
    I don’t take invites from strangers, but i certainly accept help from my contacts.
    And of course I reciprocate.

    • Wendy, I agree with your post. The key to what you say is “relevant connections”. I am thinking of a particular individual whom I barely know who has requested contacts in companies on multiple occasions. It is obvious the person just sends out a blast, following the old adage that if you throw enough mud against the wall some of it is bound to stick. The language in the email is the same each time. It’s like a form request. I don’t believe that is an effective use of one’s network and I don’t feel compelled to invite that person into my network. If one of your connections gave you the name of someone in XYZ Company your contact with that person would be much more powerful if you were able to use the name of your connection who referred you, would it not? In a situation as I described above I would just not be willing to have my name used as a referring party.

  10. Hank, I have thought this since I got involved on Linked In. Sometimes I think that people think there is a contest to see how many “connections” you can make. That’s just wrong… plain wrong. All of my connections are, with a few exceptions, people I have met either face-to-face or dealt directly with some other way. All of my connections (and i am dropping those with whom I no longer have contact at least a couple of times per year) are real people I really know a bit, including Hank Blank, to whom I sometimes send something I hope is interesting. He has also met my lovely and talented spouse face-to-face. Hank, we have yet to do that. Coffee or tea sometime? This post of yours is spot on!

  11. Scot C

    I completely agree Hank. Many of the invitations I receive are from business development people I’ve never met. Accepting an invitation from them would be like me saying “sure send me all your business junk mail”. Who wants that?

  12. Norma Morris

    Hank, thank you for the insight -and- Education. I agree with Paulette Ensign, “thanking you for your well-articulated candor!”
    I have always strived to be a “good and thoughtful networker” both in person and online, so I’d appreciate your thoughts on this. For myself, networking has been as much or perhaps More about “who do I know that can assist or support you in a need you have”. (“Connection” has many facets as are my connections) It’s rewarding to me, making those connections for others I know or who I have a “connection”. Sure, I have areas where I need support, a referral or insight from someone more experienced in an area than I. I just know that it will come (that “pay it forward’ thing).
    There are two types of people, Givers & Takers. Without delusion, ask ourselves “which one am I?”

    • hankblank

      Thanks for this Norma. You raise a big question. The theme of my original CD was How to Get More By Asking For Less and Doing More for Others. Then you run into people who leverage that to their advantage. In the end it is a balance because I need boundaries to create my job every day. I have a blog called Is Pay it Forward the Right Metric in Networking. Would love your thoughts.

      Take care.


      • Good post, Hank, as was the Pay it Forward Metric post. One thing I try to do is when I run across a request for some sort of help, or a posting of a conference or article that I know will be of interest to one of my connections, I forward it to them. It IS a way of paying it forward and I don’t expect any immediate quid pro quo. And it makes me feel good to be of some help. Unfortunately, I’ve learned that certain people in my network — including just one or two where we know one another pretty well – are just plain stingy with their contacts. I’m pretty careful about handling their connections and mine, so it’s not like I abuse those relationships. It’s just an odd kind of selfishness – perhaps driven by fear or concern that we might be competing for the same “goodies.”

  13. Carol Guynes

    Loved this. As others before me have said, this is well articulated. In my early years as a professional I would attend network or company alumni events and feel like the odd person out, most people seemed to be there having a great time, but what I saw were a lot of people out to mooch on free appetizers and talk to people they already knew. What was the networking part again? Fast forward 10 years, and attending events like those sponsored by LNC I actually feel more comfortable that it is the right kind of network to be building. As others before me, my LI connections are all people that I know, and mine to share by my own choice. Thanks as well for living your own message here. Carol Guynes

  14. Kimberly Roush

    Hank – you rock! Delightful post and as always – great networking advice – whether someone is new at this or been at it for a while.

  15. Diane

    Hank, I agree with you. I am a generous person, but I work hard for my true connections, and every one of them is built on some real interaction.

  16. Kent Mihlbauer

    While I agree with everything, I want to confess that I am a recovering digital networker. In the beginning (am linkedin member 39,000 something) I thought connecting digitally was the same as meeting people. Now I can’t stress enough that networking is NOT an office chair activity. I went to a meeting at Saddleback Church last night until 9:45, was at the Orange County Marketing Network at 7 this morning, and am off to coffee with a referred contact at 2:30 this afternoon (helping him with insights on Saudi Arabia opportunities).
    It’s work, but it’s actually really enjoyable to meet so many interesting, intelligent, an nice people!
    Thanks for the great post!

    • hankblank

      Wow. You were an early adopter. I thought I got into Linkedin early. Yes people like to sit behind their computers at home and think they are networking. Take care. Hank

  17. Hi Hank,
    I couldn’t agree more. I recently made my connections unavailable for public view because people were going through my list and soliciting my contacts. Not cool – it makes me look bad too if name dropping is involved. Networking takes time and perception skills. It is definitely an art.
    Speak to you tomorrow,

  18. Amen Hank. It’s difficult to balance the openess of linkedin with wanting to have privacy for your valued network. Some people are real sharks and I think everyone has a duty to protect the integrity of their friends and colleagues. I personally like the metaphor of the friendship ATM. If you keep taking money out and never put anything in, eventually it dries up.

  19. “My network is mine. All mine and I get to choose who to share it with. Not you.” Written/spoken with heart. You’ve articulated what has been starting to mumble and grumble in me. Danke.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s