In the workplace, people almost always behave professionally, because they know it’s about business. During job interviews, people are equally aware that they must turn on that professional mode. However, I have seen a slip in professional behavior when it comes to networking.

Here’s just more evidence that it is important for people to be trained on etiquette when it comes to professional networking, especially Generations X, Y, Z, and New Millennia workers. (This is a real email; I’ve only changed the sender’s name.)

From: Young And Inappropriate

To: stuart@pma-co.com

Subject: RE: Making a Connection

Hi Stewart,

Good morning! Hey I apologize for never updating you and for not getting back to your last email. I meant to, I’ve just been super busy lately…I’m sure you know how that goes. I actually moved to Chicago three weeks ago from tomorrow and I love it! I started working for a commercial real estate company, which I really like so far. Great work atmosphere and I’m really getting along with everyone that works here. The one catch is that its draw pay for the first year and then all commission along with some long hours.

Anyways, I still wouldn’t mind hearing about this opening your client has available just so in case something does change down the road. Let me know if your available for lunch sometime otherwise we could plan a time to talk on the phone. Sorry I have to get back to work!

YA Inappropriate

Let me provide some context: “YA Inappropriate” recently moved to Chicago (where I have many contacts) and got my name from a colleague. YA wanted support, help learning about Chicago, and assistance finding a job. The gap between the email from me that prompted his message above was about two months.

At first glance, YA’s email appears courteous, cordial—even friendly. However, upon closer inspection, YA is clearly composing personal emails on the job. He’s also likely surfing the Internet for non-company reasons. YA also seems oblivious about the impression he’s making on me, someone he hopes can help him make connections in his new city. What are the chances this behavior is “business as usual” for YA?

Here’s the content of YA’s message again, with my comments in italics.

Hi Stewart, (He incorrectly spelled my name, which is part of my email address. We’ve exchanged several emails and I pointed out the error before. YA is either not detail oriented, doesn’t pay attention, or simply doesn’t care.)

Good morning! Hey I apologize for never updating you and for not getting back to your last email. I meant to (Does YA believe stating he “meant to” forgives the long gap between messages?), I’ve just been super busy lately…I’m sure you know how that goes (Is YA implying his slow response is the kind of behavior I exhibit when I’m busy?) I actually moved to Chicago three weeks ago from tomorrow and I love it! I started working for a commercial real estate company, which I really like so far. Great work atmosphere and I’m really getting along with everyone that works here. The one catch is that its draw pay for the first year and then all commission along with some long hours. (Grammatical errors aside, YA never mentions loving his job—just the atmosphere and the people. He doesn’t love the compensation program or the long hours. I can only imagine he’s already looking for a new job.)

Anyways, I still wouldn’t mind hearing about this opening your client has available just so in case something does change down the road (He IS looking for a new job—or at least open to it—and likely took his current position just to get to Chicago). Let me know if your (poor grammar/misspelling) available for lunch sometime otherwise we could plan a time to talk on the phone. Sorry I have to get back to work! (He admits to stealing from his employer!)

You may think of me as being overly critical and that this example is extreme. However, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. YA’s email is the tip of the iceberg. Many of my clients who review their company email logs find similar activities.

Networking is a big part of doing business and people must remember that even these actions should stay professional in all respects, including not doing personal networking on the company dime.

The choice is yours!

Stuart Friedman is president of Progressive Management Associates. He is a business visionary who guides organizations through cultural shifts. He promotes environments that inspire collaboration, transparency in the pursuit of strategic outcomes and heart-felt desires. Reach Stuart via email: stuart@pma-co.com

PS: Feel free to contact me to learn my response to YA