Eight networking mistakes to avoid
Everyone knows networking is important to your career. Contacts you meet at work, during work-related events, and even in your personal life can inform you about industry developments, job opportunities, new clients, and much more. However, networking requires people skills, patience, and commitment—and unfortunately, it’s all too easy to forget something or behave in a way that’s not well received. This list of eight networking mistakes to avoid will help you learn how to network effectively.
1. Not having a business card. Your business card is a quick and easy way to introduce yourself to other people and make sure they have your information. Not having a card on you can and will be interpreted either as a lack of preparation, a lack of interest in making connections, or both. Ask your supervisor for a company card if possible. If not, there are numerous websites where you can customize pre-made cards or even upload your own design for a small fee. In addition to a hard copy card, consider getting a digital business card that you can just send over to another person’s mobile.
2. Only networking online. LinkedIn is, of course, the ultimate online networking tool and one that’s extremely effective and user-friendly. However, unless you live in a very remote area, you should make sure to regularly attend events where you can meet people face to face. The reason for this is that an in-person meeting is always more memorable than an email or direct message. Then when you follow up by email afterwards, the person will immediately be able to put a face to your name.
3. Only networking at events. It’s perfectly normal to get tired of computer and mobile screens after a long day at work. However, don’t underestimate the power of LinkedIn. Make sure you have an up-to-date profile; connect with people you know; and be active by participating in some discussions. Who knows? You might learn about a great opportunity you might otherwise have missed.
4. Dressing unprofessionally. First impressions last the longest. Need we say more?
5. Interrupting conversations. No matter how eager you are to meet someone, don’t interrupt conversations between other people. Wait until you’re invited in or the conversation ends naturally before addressing the other parties.
6. Monopolizing conversations. Networking is all about creating win-win situations between contacts. As much as you share about yourself, you should give other people the opportunity to talk about themselves and their companies. If you don’t, people will lose interest because they won’t expect the relationship to be mutually beneficial.
7. Pushing the hard sell. Nellie Akalp states in her Forbes article “7 Face-to-Face Networking Mistakes That Could Kill Your Professional Image” that you shouldn’t try to sell your products and services right at the very first meeting. It will come across as desperate and pushy. Instead, establish a connection and impress people with your knowledge of your field. This “persuasion” tactic is far more effective, since when people accept you as a subject matter expert, they’re more likely to approach you about your products or services when they need them.
8. Failing to follow up properly. Whenever you meet someone new, you should follow up with him or her within 48 hours. Send the person in question a well-written message in which you express how nice it was to meet him or her, and suggest keeping in touch. If you’d like to meet up again, state your reason for meeting and suggest a couple of times and dates. And remember: always be on time!
When it comes to networking, do it often and do it well. Just remember to avoid these eight networking mistakes, and you’ll be well on your way to building strong relationships that last for the duration of your career and beyond.
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