An Early Warning System
by Jan Triplett, Ph.D.
CEO, Business Success Center
Networking is about both giving and taking. It is not, however, only to be used to provide positive information to your network or those you want to add to your network. There really is something that I call “Negative Networking”. I have seen many people use it very effectively, even if they did not have a name for it.
To improve your Networking Success Ratio, you should also be on the lookout for negative information. This consists of any information that can warn you and your network of what or whom to avoid. It is not gossip. It is an "early warning system" that allows you and them to avoid costly mistakes of time, effort and sometimes money.
The members of your network should be on alert, too. If they aren’t this tells you something. Either they are not aware of the value of this to you or they don’t want to or think it’s right. This is a great way to help you evaluate how good your network is.
Negative Networking warned me about a potential client who does not pay his bills; a hotel that turns the lights out on meetings when the hotel personnel feel it is time for them to leave; and a vendor who can't deliver what he promises.
Other examples of Negative Networking might include telling people in your network about:
• A restaurant with bad service or food;
• A company which mistreats its employees or vendors;
• Someone who is not a "networker", but is just out for what he or she can get.
Without this information, you could ruin your meeting with a client or a "special someone" by taking them to that restaurant. If you took a job with that firm, you might pass up a job with a better company. If you provided goods or services to them, you might not get paid. All of us get "used" by others sometimes. If you know what to expect ahead of time, you can decide how much time and effort you want to give someone who won't "give" you anything in return.
What are some examples of Negative Networking that have helped you? What have you done to protect your network? Can you think of examples of Negative Networking that would benefit your network or individuals in those networks now?
It’s good to keep a current “Alert” list to know what to watch out for and to encourage members of your networks to do so, too. This is best if it’s based on your knowledge of their goals and their knowledge of yours.
(from A Networker’s Guide to Success, 3rd Edition, by Jan Triplett)