Days, weeks, perhaps even months later you're still waiting for the promised contact information or introduction. Maybe the person who brought it up is very busy, forgetful, or had second thoughts? You don't want your mind to wander, but you're starting to wonder if this person is the kind of person we've all known who says, "We should totally get together next week! Which days would work best for you?" and you throw out some time frames and then...nothing happens. The next time you see this person, it's deja vu all over again. "We should totally get together!" Uh-huh. By the third or fourth time, you're on to this person and simply let the moment pass without comment because it's become very clear this person is simply making conversation. Or something?
Suggesting chit-chat over a cup of coffee, however, is far different from offering to help further someone else's job search. In fact, job hunting has become very serious business over the last few years for many Americans, who do not take kindly to someone messing with their heads by dangling a tantalizing job contact and then snatching it away through inaction and general lack of follow-through. What would have been considered a minor annoyance in a good economy can become a major frustration in these times of high unemployment. It can also lend a feeling of awkwardness to future interactions. What gives?
Well, there are various reasons your disappearing job contact didn't follow through on what he or she promised to do. These reasons range from disorganization to distractions to busy schedules to flakiness to simply searching for something nice to say in the moment. This person, for whatever reason, also may have been exaggerating his or her closeness to this tantalizing job contact. He or she claims a "we're like this!" (two fingers crossed in air) relationship when in reality, maybe they interact on a "hi, how are you?" or Facebook/Twitter-only basis. Or maybe the two were friends in college but aren't as close anymore. It happens. Think over-played Goyte songs.
In the disappearing job contact's defense, however, it may have been the way you presented yourself as the conversation progressed. Did you come off too desperately or too strongly? Did you fail to have your elevator pitch down? Did you seem confused as to what you're looking for? It might be good to practice with a friend, relative or mirror how you'll handle job leads that will be dropped in your lap down the line.
Whether or not you decide to offer a reminder about a job lead gone MIA is up to you. If you do, be careful how you phrase it so you don't sound accusatory (hint: saying bluntly, "You said you'd do this!" isn't going to score you many points). A reminder may or may not be worth it, depending on the circumstances. Remember, this job lead came to you unsolicited. You didn't seek it out, it was dropped in your lap, so put it in its proper perspective. There will be other job contacts who do follow through, and you'll be even more thankful to them for doing so. These are the people who restore your faith in job-hunting humanity, and they are out there. Bring your best table manners when you meet these follow-through types, because lunch might actually happen.
And the next time you're tempted to blurt out "I know someone who works at _______ who you should talk to, let me put you in touch!" do not -- I repeat, DO NOT -- put it out there unless you're actually very serious about following through on it. Otherwise, you're creating a sense of false hope in somebody else, which isn't really a very nice thing to do in this economy. So think twice, play nice, and suffice it to say that you'll come through on whatever you say you'll do. Happy job hunting!