What Networking Mistakes Are You Making? February 1st, 2014
Networking is key to the advancement of your career. No matter what stage of your career you are in, you can stand to benefit from networking. That being said networking requires a certain amount of charisma, social grace and strategy. The goal of networking should be building new relationships, not simply an opportunity to sell yourself. This requires that you don’t just talk, you also need to listen. Here are some common mistakes you would be wise to avoid.
The internet is an amazing tool. It’s easy to do all of your networking over the internet, but that doesn’t mean that it is a wise idea. Strictly relying on email and sites like Linkedin will prevent you from building actual meaningful relationships. If possible meet people face to face. It’s a lot easier to forget about a specific email than a specific conversation over coffee or lunch. If you do need to rely on the internet make sure you are as personal and polite as possible. Avoid sending out mass emails; address each email personally and include specifics. No matter what make sure you hit spell check and read over the email at least once before you send it. It is very easy for somebody to delete an email if they don’t think you put any real time into it.
When you are networking with somebody don’t allow yourself to use vague phrases. When somebody asks you what your career goals are tell them specifically where you want to end up. If you know a little bit about their experiences you’ll be able to talk about the goals you have that they have already accomplished. This will enable them to give you meaningful advice.
Don’t stop networking just because you currently have a job. Build your network up while happily employed, that way it’s there for you when you need it. You never know when an opportunity is going to arise or when you are going to need a helping hand. When you do make connections keep in touch every once in awhile, let them know what is going on in your career. Just like all of your other relationships, your professional relationships require good communication for them to remain strong.
Remind yourself not to be too selfish. Just like you want your contacts to help you, they want you to help them. If you’ve been in a similar situation as them let them know how you got through it. If you know somebody that they may benefit from meeting introduce them. This will show that you aren’t just trying to use them and will demonstrate your own abilities. This is also an easy way to keep in contact.
Whatever you do, do not take advantage of your network. Don’t give out a certain references contact information too frequently and don’t abuse your network contact too much. There is a difference between politely checking in and nagging somebody. You also don’t just want to casually name-drop, you need to know somebody’s reputation within an industry before boasting about your relationship and you should know how your reference is perceived before giving out their contact information.
Lastly if a family member helps get you an interview don’t bring them into the conversation too often. You may be there because of them but you’re going to need to land the job based on your own merit.
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