Burning & Rebuilding Bridges
One of the most important lessons that I have learned personally, is that success is highly based on networking. If you do right by other people, they’ll do right by you. The lesson is fairly simple, yet it amazes me how many people don’t recognize the power that it holds.
A Recently Burned Bridge
I recently met a gentleman who lost his job, which is an unfortunate and trying situation to find yourself in. This individual had a family and seemed like a genuinely good guy, and I felt terrible for him. I did everything that I could to help improve the situation he was in. I sent him to an interview, and he followed up with me every other day for updates. Knowing how important finding a new job was, I always responded to him immediately. Although he didn’t get the job, I spent hours communicating back and forth with him, offering advice and advising him on his resume and how to improve his odds at employment.
Eventually the work that he put in paid off, and he got a good job. At this point, I reached out to him but received no response. I made multiple attempts to get in contact, and didn’t even receive a simple courtesy reply to let me know that he was not interested. I found it intriguing that he always expected an immediate response from me when my help was needed, however when the roles were reversed he couldn’t even give me the courtesy of a one sentence email.
A Second Bridge is Burning
Another experience that I had not too long ago serves as another strong example of burning a bridge. I had a candidate that I sent to an interview, and he genuinely seemed excited about the opportunity. Everything was confirmed with him the day before, yet he never showed up to the interview the following day. I emailed him, left voicemails, and even texted him. To my surprise, I received no response from him at all.
Almost a year later, he came across my radar again asking for my help. It turns out he was in the job market, and must have assumed that I forgot about what had previously occurred. Unfortunately for him, this wasn’t the case. I could neve put my brand behind somebody who would do that.
Repairing a Burned Bridge
I am sensitive to the fact that people make mistakes in life, and sometimes things happen that are unexpected. People deserve a chance at redemption, especially when they are able to admit their mistakes and prove that they are willing to make changes.
Several years ago, I had a candidate that snapped at me because I didn’t have a job for him. He kept telling me that he was a “perfect fit” for a job, despite the fact that his qualifications weren’t close. A few months after the incident in which he lost his cool, he called me back to apologize. He explained himself and his behavior in that moment, letting me know that he was really under a lot of stress. I completely understood where he was coming from, and appreciated his willingness to call me and apologize. I gladly accepted his apology, and we are actually still in touch to this day.
The bottom line is that you need to treat everybody you encounter like they are gold, whether they can help you or not. You never know which connections will be helpful in the future, and thus should do right by people as often as you can. Instead of letting bridges burn or be forgotten, think of it as performing general bridge upkeep and fostering relationships that could help you succeed in the future.