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Jason, age 31, is an office administrator at a medical supplies company in Evanston, Illinois, located outside Chicago


Jason, age 31, is an office administrator at a medical supplies company in Evanston, Illinois, located outside Chicago. He enjoys the medical supply field because he perceives the business as an efficient method of distributing medical supplies to settings such as hospitals, medical clinics, and hospices where they are vitally needed. Jason has long been interested in advancing his career by making contacts that could help him in such ways as being recommended for a bigger position, learning new skills and technology, and bringing in business for his company. Although Jason is not working in sales, he believes that all professional employees have a responsibility to promote the company. One Sunday morning while reading the business section of the newspaper, he learned that a newly formed networking group, the Evanston Professionals, would be holding its first meeting that Friday at an upscale restaurant, starting at 5 p.m. Admission was $15. Jason thought, “Here is an opportunity made for me. I’ll send the event organizer an e-mail this morning, and pay at the door. I’ll bring loads of business cards, and wear my sharpest business casual attire.” (The announcement specified business casual as the dress code.) Jason showed up precisely at 5 p.m. for the event, and registered at the door. He told the woman at the front table, “I’m Jason, and I’m here to meet some great folks.” Jason purchased a glass of Chardonnay and then made his first move. He spotted a woman wearing a Coach bag, leading him to conclude that she must have a good position. Jason’s opening line was, “Hi, I’m Jason, a key office administrator in the medical supply field. Here’s my card with a condensed résumé on the back. I’m not specifically looking for a job, but I would never turn down a great opportunity. Be in touch with me if you want to learn more.” The woman wearing the Coach bag replied, “Thanks for coming over, I hope you have a nice evening.” Jason then spotted a hospital administrator, Baxter, whom he recognized from the past. He approached the administrator and said, “Hello, Baxter. I’m glad we’re both attending the opening event for this networking group. Here’s how you can help me. If you know about any really interesting job openings, let me know. Also, if you are using any new business processes for your hospital that work well, let me know. I can visit you at work to learn all about them.” Baxter replied, “I hear you, Jason. See you later.” Jason then thought, “So far, my networking approach is not working so well. Maybe I should try the personal touch before I get into professional areas.” He next approached a woman dressed in a red blouse, slacks, and high heels. Jason’s opening line was, “Hello there, stylish Evanston professional. You look fabulous. I love red on a woman, and high heels please me also. Are you married? Here’s my card.” With an icy stare, the woman replied, “I thought this was a professional networking event, not a place to hit on people.”

Case Questions

1. What suggestions can you offer Jason for improving his networking effectiveness?

2. What important ground rule for networking is Jason violating?

3. What, if anything, is Jason doing right in terms of career networking?

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