An influencer suggested young job seekers go door-to-door to ask for advice. It didn’t go over well

June 8, 2022, 1:34 PM UTC

If you’re between the ages of 16 and 24 and are trying to get ahead, entrepreneur Sahil Bloom has an idea for you. 

“Next Saturday morning, put on a button-down shirt, and grab a notebook and pen,” he tweeted on Sunday in a lengthy thread. “Go to a local coffee shop and buy a big jug of coffee. Take 10 disposable cups and some creamer. Pick a nearby nice-ish neighborhood and head there. Pick a house and ring the doorbell.”

He continued: “If someone answers, say something like, ‘Good morning! I’m [Name]. I’m [age], and I’m trying to learn more about different careers. Would you mind if I took 10 minutes of your time over a coffee and asked you a few questions about your work?”

Bloom reasoned that it’s harder to ignore an in-person request to connect than a cold email, estimating that anywhere between 25% and 50% of people will agree to chatting for 15 minutes. Plus, he added, the ambition to knock on strangers’ doors and ask career-related questions would help the knocker stand out. 

“Best case you quickly seed a few mentorships,” Bloom wrote. “Worst case, you try and it flops.”

But much of Twitter disagreed. Thousands of commenters were quick to point out holes in Bloom’s approach to networking—namely, the inherent risk of danger in knocking on strangers’ doors, particularly for people of color.

“Young Black folks: Don’t do this, especially if you live in a gun state,” one Twitter user wrote.

“Am totally supportive of this concept,” another user wrote. “Serious question: Do you think this is as easy to accomplish for a young woman?”

More users have since turned to outrage at Bloom, suggesting he gave bad advice as a way of gatekeeping success. 

“Underrated rich person cruelty is their love of hazing anyone who wants to be like them with these completely psychotic fool’s errand pranks,” one user wrote. “Like, ‘If you want to get rich, cold-email six CEOs you admire a 4,000-word short story at 5 a.m. every day.’” 

A better way to network

The pandemic greatly reduced the opportunities for traditional networking, which may explain why unusual advice like Bloom’s has become so prevalent. Since 2020, only 21.5% of students have had internships, compared to the typical 50% to 60%, according to 2021 research from the Center for College-Workforce Transitions at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Many of Bloom’s Twitter dissenters chastised his advice as a best networking practice. In reality, experts agree that straightforward is best.

Young workers can “absolutely” still make meaningful connections virtually, Christine Cruzvergara, chief education strategy officer at college recruiting platform Handshake, told Fortune in March. She recommends starting with your college’s alumni network and people early on in their careers in your chosen field, working outward from there. 

Reaching out, typically over LinkedIn or email, just requires being more proactive, discerning, and intentional about who to reach out to and which kinds of connections to make, Cruzvergara said. 

As Bloom eventually conceded after a few hundred comments poured in, a door-knocking strategy may be a bit outlandish. “A few people have pointed out—quite fairly!—that the viability/success of this strategy is impacted by several uncontrollable factors (race, location, gender, etc.),” he wrote. “Very sad—but true.”

But Bloom, who did not respond to Fortune’s request for comment, ultimately remained undeterred. “For what it’s worth, it can definitely work.”

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