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BLOGThat’s a Great Idea

by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Communication, Make It Happen Tipsheet, NetworkingTagged as:

How do you get your network to really help?

At a recent dinner I was taught a fascinating networking lesson, from a most unexpected source. At a certain point in time, the discussion turned to the subject of jobs, and how one of the people at the table should get one. People kept “suggesting” that to be successful, this person should sign up for a particular course, join a team, join an association, apply for a specific job here or there, and so on. The flow of suggestions was not asked for, and seemed unending. Most people would become defensive if this happened to them.

Here is the surprise: the target of the suggestions was a 15 year-old. If you know anything about teenagers, they typically aren’t too interested in taking advice from anyone – especially certain adult authority figures. In this case, however, the teen responded to each suggestion with a different phrase:

  • That’s a great idea;
  • I’ll consider that;
  • That’s something I should remember;
  • I hadn’t thought of that;
  • I’m not sure, but I can try;
  • Thanks.

Did the teenager really appreciate the advice, or did he just want to avoid being rude? It didn’t matter: he was able to make everyone feel good about helping him out. If he shut down the suggestions, then few would be willing to help later. By answering as he did, he stored the ideas for future consideration – and did so without commitment.

If there is still a teenager in you, what type are you? One who shuts down help, or one who is open to it? Teenagers grow up, some earlier than others.


Having an attitude that accepts others’ ideas – and doesn’t shut down initiative – is what encourages your network to work on your behalf. This week, keep your eye out for any “helpful” suggestions from your colleagues, friends, and  family: instead of saying no, try the above phrases. (And if you’re not sure about this Tip, just say “That’s something I should remember”.)

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