Everyone knows a Tommy Brag o’ Nothing. He is the guy, who shows up everywhere and everyone seems to know who he is, but no one really knows him.
Apropos of his name, he’s bragging about his past, who he’s been with, what he’s done… basically trying to look like a big shot. But there’s just one problem: If he ever really did anything half as big as he says, why does he have to tell everyone about it? Let’s face it, when Charles Wang walks into the room, it’s not like he has to say, “I was once in charge of Computer Associates.” Everyone just knows it.
So here’s Tommy, driving his Honda, wearing last decade’s Broncos jacket and shoes so worn they’re practically falling off his feet. But his whole MO is to convince you about his “big time in the music biz,” or when he “used to hang with all his Hollywood pals.”
What’s he doing today? No one knows. And when you ask him, he can’t really tell you. But there he is, desperately trying to convince you he holds the keys to a million dollar vault.
Visit his office and there aren’t any pictures of him and his “big buddies.” No letters of thanks from the “tons of people” Tommy claims he’s made rich over the years. Not even a sympathetic picture of his dog. Tommy’s actually a pretty sad chap. Harmless, but sad.
And because this last part is so transparent, you might take pity and actually throw a contact his way. Or worse (stupid) is to pursue a line of baloney he’s dishing you. When this happens, Tommy will unflinchingly waste your time by either giving you the runaround or just plain ignoring you. You might get mad at Tommy, but you have no one to blame but yourself. After all, a rose by any other name…
Remember: Networking is about using your judgment to create synergies with the right people. If you don’t have the good sense to trust your instincts about a Tommy, then you’re letting desperation, or some other emotion, drag you away from the people you want to be spending time on.
If you want to garden with Pat Lempa, email firstname.lastname@example.org.