1. 4 Networking Mistakes You Dont Know Youre MakingWhether youre looking for a job or not, youve probably been encouraged to network, network,network! more times than you can count. Are all those conferences and events youre attendingleading to new connections or opportunities?No? Youre not the only one. Many networking newbies have tendencies that actually inhibitbuilding real relationships with their new contacts.The good news: its not that hard to fix. Heres what you might not even realize youre doingwrongand what to do about it.Mistake #1: Talking about YourselfAll the TimeYoure talented! Eager! Ambitious! You have lots of ideas to share! And you want to make sure thatevery person you meet at the event knows who you are and what you do!We get it. And yes, sharing your story with new contacts is important. But sharing your life story isoverkill: Nothing can set a person off more than an aspiring professional who takes no interest inanything beside her own ambitions.The Fix: Take Some Interest. Stop highlighting your latest accomplishment and start listening instead.Find people with industries or careers of interest to you, and ask them questions: How did they gettheir start? What do they love about their jobs, and what do they wish they could change? By takingan interest in your contact, you will make her feel valuedand hopefully interested in continuingthe relationship. And youll likely gain some new insights, too.Mistake #2: Expecting a JobYoure looking for a new job, so you hit the circuit of industry events every week, asking everyperson you meet to help you find your new gigafter all, its not what you know, its who.Well, yes. But give people some credit: If you pursue networking opportunities purely for the jobprospects, your contacts will figure you out. You will leave them feeling used, and they will be lesslikely to recommend you for an opportunity.The Fix: Provide Some Value. If youre looking for a job, dont ask for itwork for it. Do someresearch into what your contact does both in and out of work and find ways that you can contributeyour time or support. Perhaps you could volunteer your expertise in social media for the bigconvention shes heading up, or offer your accounting knowledge for her non-profit. Provide someopportunity for contacts to see you in a working light, and youll be that much closer to a goodreferral.
2. Mistake #3: Not Saying ThanksYou attended a large event last week and grabbed coffee with one of your new professional contactsafterward. And thenthe week got busy, and you didnt get around to saying thank you. Shellunderstand, right?Maybe. But if you dont show gratitude, even in the smallest (or largest) event, you risk leaving anegative impressionprobably not the desired outcome of your meeting.The Fix: Just Do It. Whether you pack notecards in your purse for post-meeting scribbles, set yourselfa reminder on Gmail to send off a quick note, or just insert a quick thanks for taking time to meetwith me! at the final handshake, you must say thank you. Not only will you solidify your reputationas a courteous individual, but you wont be leaving your contacts with a bad taste in their mouths.Always say thank you, and your good impression will last until your next meetingMistake #4: Forgetting to Follow UpYou meet someone over a networking happy hour and tell her youll send her your portfolio. But asthe night goes on, she has a few drinks and meets a few dozen more people. Youre sure shesforgotten all about you, so you decide its not even worth emailing her the next day.Bad idea. Meeting someone is just the first step in networking. In order to forge a lastingrelationship (and make sure people dont forget you), you need to follow up, every single time.The Fix: Stay Accountable. If you told a networking contact that you would do something, do it. Evenif youre not sure she remembers you, you can bet that she will be grateful that you took the timeout of your day to send her what you had discussed. If youre worried about forgetting, keep a pennear your business card holder to quickly scribble out what follow-up actions you have for thatcontact, and review your cards after the event.Above all, keep in mind that networking isnt about short-term gain, but about learning, growing,and forming connections. Adopt good social habits, and youll see your skills and comfort improve,your opportunities increase, and your relationships growfor the long haul.