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Networking Missteps I See And Why It Matters

Updated: Feb 8, 2021

You probably know how strongly I feel about the importance of social capital for Black people. I regularly riff about it because, while everyone talks about how we have a harder time getting access to financial capital, no one is talking about the deleterious impact that lack of social capital has on the Black community today, and even worse, on our kids and grandkids tomorrow.

I wanna talk about three things I regularly experience with Black folks tryna network with me that I think is counterproductive to the goal of increasing social capital.

Not Sending A Note With A LinkedIn Connection Request

I am very intentional about how I use LinkedIn - it is a professional networking platform that I use to amplify the mission of this foundation and to make connections that help me bring resources to this community, and recently, it helps with fundraising.

So, I only connect with people who are related to our mission here and if it's not clear why I should connect with someone, I won't accept their generic connection request.


Because if I see someone connected to my current connection and I ask for an introduction, but I don't know my connection well enough to ask for an introduction, what is the point of being connected on a professional networking platform?

This is just me - like I said, I'm very intentional about LinkedIn.

So, what should you do?

LinkedIn expert, Bianca Jackson, stays preaching this and I completely agree! When you send a connection request to someone, tell them why you want to do so in a connection note. You get three hundred characters to do this, and I make every single one of them jokers count.

This works, so please do it.

Instantly Requesting Zoom Face Time

It never fails, as soon as I accept a LinkedIn connection here comes the inevitable, "Do you have time to hop on a quick Zoom, so I can learn more about what you're doing?"



This shows a lack of situational awareness - we are all Zoomed out.

And a quick review of my activity shows very clearly what I'm doing. So, now I think the person is lazy and unserious. And it starts the relationship off with me telling them no, the opposite of a yes, which is what I assume they want to hear in all cases.

Please don't do this.

Sending Single Opt-In Email Introductions

A single opt-in email introduction is when you introduce two people via email without getting permission from the second person.

Why does this matter?

It matters because an improper introduction can result in two things, neither of which reflects well on you as the introducer:

  1. The other person ignores the email introduction.

  2. The person you said you will help now thinks you don't have the social clout you purport to have.

VC Brad Feld writes simply and beautifully about this:

To make the double opt-in easy for you to do:
  • Have the person send you something to forward to me.

  • Forward it to me and say “I vouch for this person” (or any other context you want to provide). Game for an intro?

  • If I say yes, then connect us.

These are the three networking missteps I see that keep people from increasing their social capital.

Lack of social capital keeps us from executing our would-be great ideas. And more insidiously, it keeps us from imagining what's possible. And as Einstein said, "imagination is more important than knowledge."

Without imagination, how can we truly leave a legacy for our beautiful Black children and grandchildren?

With love,

James CEO

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