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Career Coach: Scary Stuff — How to Drive a Stake Through the Heart of Your Network

In the spirit of Halloween, the Career Coach gives some helpful hints on how not to scare off your network on contacts and connections.

Halloween is a time of witches, werewolves and vampires. You get rid of a vampire by driving a stake through its heart. You can hasten the demise of your valuable network just as easily, without knowing it. Here are a few lethal blows that can kill off any network beware of them!

Howl and Moan: Use your network as a complaint hotline. Complain to anyone who will listen about everything you can think of. Blame everyone else for your situation. Don't take responsibility for anything that happens to you. You are living a nightmare and others should share in your misery.

Scare off good leads or advice: First, let everyone know what you want. Whenever anyone sends you a lead or suggestion, shoot holes in it and find as many flaws or drawbacks as you can. Anyone making suggestions or sending leads will give up soon. Your phone will be dead.

Suck the lifeblood out of your network: Call your contacts and ask for favors, pump them for information, seek referrals or tips, but offer nothing in exchange.

Bore them to death: Make sure you give your life story to every new person you meet, but don't ask anything about them.

Kill time: Call network members often just to shoot the breeze, ask what's new, and otherwise the pass the time. Chatting with you gives them a break from their busy schedules.

Make monstrous demands: Ask too many favors or make unreasonable requests.

Dig your own grave: Reveal secrets or violate confidences. Use a reference without asking.

Stab them in the back: Invoke the power of your network to do ill, betray a confidence, spread destructive gossip or use inside information from one network member so you can compete with another.

Be a terror: Fail to deliver, break promises, let your network down. Be dead weight.

Your network can protect you against the evil spirits that can terrorize your career. But your network won't stand a ghost of a chance if you abuse its power or betray its members.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a recruiter/hiring strategist and career coach. Her most recent recruiting clients include Paramounts feature film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and Toybox, a Canadian visual effects company. She speaks regularly on career issues at colleges and universities.