KF recently asked a question about networking into a company
through a university connection. The person is on an industrial
advisory board to the university.
He emailed: ” Today I was searching a company website to find
a person to possibly network with, and noticed something obviously
wrong. His email on the webpage is his colleague’s. I probably
already figured out what the company pattern for addresses and
his “real” address is. But, is it a positive thing to point out to
them the obvious error on the webpage? Is it professional or
unprofessional to do so?”
Two responses and a comment followed in our exchange (leaving out
more personal elements of the messages).
1: “If you know the person well,” I noted, “then it might be nice
to let them know about the “error” or something unusual.
Sometimes,” I added,” there is a role for an admin to receive
inquiries for a professional from people who are not well
known to the professional. The admin can redirect important
emails, as necessary. (This is a “gatekeeper” tactic in corporate
America, however. 2 Tactics that might be used with
“However, I would refrain from sending an email to alert them.
Perhaps, if you speak with them in the future you can ask for
their specific email address to use.”
2: An etiquette expert and colleague of mine, Mary Monica Mitchell,
offered: “When faced with a dilemma, like the one you posed, I always
ask myself two questions: First, would I want to know if the situation
were reversed? Second, can the situation be remedied? When answers
to both questions is yes, then I go for it.
No need to give a lot of explanation. Could sound something like “I
happened to notice… thought you might not be aware of… and that
you might appreciate a head’s up…”"
This is one of the roles we need to be aware of and develop friendly
strategies. My personal strategy is to remain very friendly, patient
and cooperative and do as much as I can in person. Face to face
and respecting the role and authority the gatekeeper has and knowing
that it is their decision.