Get the most out of your networking experience by avoiding these common mistakes.
Networking is a very crucial step in the job search process. This is where you make real-life connections that could mean the difference between a job opportunity or nothing. People want to hire people. When you know someone who could provide you with the right connection to getting a job, you have the advantage over other job seekers vying for the same position. Because networking is so important, you want to get the most out of all of the events, seminars, classes, etc. that you attend. Don’t mess up great opportunities by making any of these common mistakes.
Losing touch with contacts.
You put the effort into creating those contacts, but then you fall through in the follow-up. That is a waste of both your time and effort. Make the conscious effort to follow up with all of your connections at least once a month. It doesn’t need to be difficult. You can send a quick email, make a phone call, or engage with them over social media. Make sure you are keeping your contacts up-to-date on your career path. Share articles and stories that are relevant to your industry that you find interesting or enlightening.
When you attend networking events, you want to know what your plan of action is going to be. Do you homework. Know what events are coming up. Know what people are going to be where. Keep track of trends and changes that are happening in the industry. You want to be able to have a conversation and know what you are talking about. Also, keep a good supply of business cards. You don’t want to be hard at work on making a connection, only to realize you have nothing to help them remember you.
Talking about yourself too much.
When you are networking, you do need to talk about yourself, your career, your accomplishments, etc. But if you are talking about yourself too much, you will only come off as conceited and cocky. You also want to show that you have an interest in the other person, their career, their ambitions, and more. Try to find common ground between you and the potential connection that allows you to further build a relationship.
Dismissing unimportant people.
When you go to a networking event, you may look at people and judge them based on how they look or who they are spending time with. If they don’t look important enough, you may feel that talking to them would be a waste of time. This is a very big mistake. Behave like everyone you interact with has the potential to be a great connection. You never know who people are. The man wearing khaki shorts and a stained shirt may end up being the CEO of a corporation you wouldn’t mind getting into.
Sticking to one platform.
A mistake that many make when taking the chance to network is to exclusively network at events or to exclusively network online. However, to get the best results, you should be doing both! LinkedIn is a great way to begin networking online, as they offer different groups you can join and contribute to that are tailored to specific industries. If you’ve only networked online, it’s time to get out into the real world. Start attending industry events, seminars, lunch-ins, meet and greets—wherever you will be able to meet people relevant to your industry.
You only have immediate goals.
A lot of time, when networking, you are only looking for connections that will help you with what you want right now. But you need to look at the bigger picture. What are you going to want from your career in five years or ten years? It doesn’t hurt to find connections that you can foster and build up over a longer period of time to eventually help you with those goals.
You expect a job.
You shouldn’t go to a networking event simply to meet someone who will give you a job. If this is your only goal then you aren’t going to find the most useful and meaningful connections that you can. Don’t just ask for a job, work for it. First, find a contact who could be useful. Then, prove your knowledge of the industry. Contribute to online groups with your own knowledge and advice about the industry. Then email your article to your connection, asking for their opinion on what you wrote.
You’re in a rush.
When you are at a networking event, you may feel like you have very little time to get what you need to do accomplished. Because of this, you may find yourself rushing through conversations to get to as many people as possible. However, this is only going to hurt you in the long run. Your potential connection wants to feel appreciated—that you’re taking the time to have a meaningful and insightful conversation with them. If you’re rushing, they may feel that you don’t care about what they have to say or simply want to get to know them for what they can offer you.