User question about “very poor networking results”

You know networking is what you should do.  What if you are doing it but it doesn’t work?  Sam asks:

I am having very poor results on my networking efforts and feel very concerned by the overall situation.   Is there any useful advise you could share with me to help me turn things around?

Sam, I feel your pain. When I finally bit the bullet and started networking, I was doing it wrong.  My first guess was that Sam is doing it wrong also, but I had to ask her what she is doing. From her reply I see that she is:

“…using Linkedin heavily. I reach out to people inside & outside of my network. No one answers. Whether these are school alumni or personal friends or contacts of contacts. No one answers or sends me a laconic:”sorry I do not know this person” or “I do not have any contacts in this industry””

I wonder what her outreach looks like to get ignored (see below for an idea of what the problem might be). She is also asking for people’s time:

“I try to set phone meetings by emails when I can not find the info of the person I want to speak to. I look them up on the web and find their email and just email them to avoid cold calling and either interrupting their day or leaving a voice mail that stays unreturned. “

Again, I wondered what her message/request looks like. Sam sent me an email that she would send to a prospect where she is asking for time on the phone (what I would call an informational interview).  The introduction, which I’m not including here for privacy, is very good.  She ends with this:

“I would very much welcome the opportunity to speak to you informally over the phone 10-15 minutes just to solicit your advice and exchange about the working environment at (company name) and the hiring perspectives at the moment. Thank you very much for your time and consideration. Sincerely,”

The biggest problem I see with this request is that she is not asking for time.  Read that last bit again.  There is no invitation or call to action.  The second biggest problem is that she is saying “I’m a job seeker… do you have any openings?”  I’m a lot more informal than Sam is (she is an executive)… I would personally rewrite it like this:

“I have some questions about your company and the industry in general and would appreciate your perspective. Can we get on the phone for fifteen or twenty minutes?  My schedule is flexible this week and next week.  Is there a good time that works for you?”

That (1) has a call to action and (2) changes the conversation from “help me, are there openings” to “I’m a peer and colleague, let’s talk shop.”

The “fix” to this problem might be that simple… what do you think?