Are You Selling Yourself Short When Networking?


I recently had a the pleasure of speaking with two individuals, each connecting with me as part of their networking efforts while seeking a job opportunity in the events industry. I had never met either one and knew nothing of their backgrounds.  Both were telephone calls.

Similar conversation with each right?

Not even close.

The conversations could not possibly have been more different and coming one right after the other, I was struck by the extreme opposites in approach. I thought it might be helpful to pass along my observations and reactions to each.

You see connecting and asking for help isn’t all there is to networking.

HOW you sell yourself will greatly influence the outcome.


Conversation 1:

Caller was articulate and confident…but bordering on arrogant. She told me who had referred her and immediately launched into her background, experience and needs. I was barraged with information. Everything she had done was the best or the most or the greatest. She was even quite specific about things like how many hours she was willing to work in a week and the type of contracts she would take. (Not necessarily a bad thing – just a bit early in the discussion). She talked AT me.

And all of this without asking me a single question. Not one. (Not kidding.)

Bottom line, she was looking for a job…although she didn’t actually didn’t ever come out and say that. Interesting.

When she finished speaking, I was left to pick up the conversation.

I felt very much that the expectation was for me to ask her when she could start and be ever so grateful to have found the answer to all my prayers.

Here’s the thing. I didn’t have a job available, nor would I have hired her even if I did.

I tried asking some questions. It started to sound like everything she might encounter was beneath her. The conversation ended quite abruptly on her part when I indicated (very politely and thinking that this might encourage her to ask some questions or slow down her approach) that I did not have or know of anything at the moment but that I was interested in learning more for future opportunities. The energy in her voice changed immediately – I was no longer of value since I didn’t have what she wanted. She couldn’t get off the phone fast enough. She never did send her resume.

Seriously, when the call ended I felt like I’d been hit by a truck!


Conversation 2:

Caller was pleasant and articulate although her voice lacked some energy, which made me question her confidence and appropriateness for the business.

She was quite clear about connecting for help with looking for a job. She explained that her background was not in events but it was evident that she was very interested in heading her career in that direction. She asked lots of really great questions and there was no doubt about her interest in learning and developing her skills. Over the course of a very engaging conversation (the energy picked up) she made me want to help. She finished by asking if I would kindly review her resume, which I agreed to.

Here’s the interesting part. When I received her resume there were very clear connections with her experience to the events industry making her a much better candidate than she had positioned. She just didn’t recognize or articulate it. Yes we had to do some tweaking to ensure her resume highlighted the transferable skills but she actually had a great background and was likely to find a job of interest to her.


There are many take-aways from these two stories, but bottom line?


Both callers made me work too hard! Neither did a good job of aptly selling themselves as a potential candidate.


The first conversation was a case of over-sell. This casts doubt and turns people off. I would have had to try to peel back the bravado to see if there was anything of real substance.

The second conversation was a complete under-sell. Not everyone will take the time to figure out if there is more than meets the eye. Under-selling yourself could result in your contact not connecting the dots to see you in the job.


Either way – underselling or overselling yourself – you sell yourself short!


While these calls might be extreme scenarios, do you see yourself in either version? Do you try so hard to share everything you’ve ever done that you forget to ask questions? Do you worry you are unqualified so don’t impart confidence?

There is often a very brief window in which to connect with someone and make an impression.You want them to WANT to help you.

Make the connection a real conversation.

Ask questions. Be open. Speak confidently and with energy.

Let your light shine but leave a little room for them to want to know more. It will keep the conversation going and may lead exactly where you want!

You are your greatest asset.

Don’t sell yourself short! 




Post by Margaret Johnston,

As a career event professional, Margaret brings valuable insight and knowledge to the recruitment, management and development of high-performance teams for the event industry. A strategic and inspiring leader, Margaret has held executive roles for several global event management companies and key roles in the start up and orchestration of many high profile and international events.


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