Life is all about who you know. The more contacts you make, the better off you will be. Build a strong network of professional contacts and you’ll be one step closer to landing a job, securing a reference, getting a raise, or being promoted.
It’s your job as a professional to spend time networking. Many people focus too much on the resume, cover letter, and job search and overlook the potential of networking. Well we’re here to tell you that networking is one of the most important things that anybody can do. Who you know makes all the difference in life.
The problem with networking is that it isn’t cut and dry. There is no cookie cutter recipe to excel at building a useful network. It’s a mix of meeting the right people, being in the right place at the right time, and letting your personality shine. But it doesn’t always happen like this and sometimes networking feels forced, which is why people continually make networking mistakes.
Here are some of the most common networking mistakes that people make without even knowing it:
- Meeting The Wrong People – You should view everyone as a useful contact, but you also need to meet the right people if you want to get ahead.
- Not Meeting Enough People – The bigger your network, the better. Meet as many people as you can because you never know who might have the golden ticket you need.
- Expecting Too Much Too Soon – Networking is a long term game. No one is going to shake your hand and give you a job instantly. You have to nurture a networking relationship in hopes that it pays off down the road.
- Forgetting That Networking Is Mutually Beneficial – Networking isn’t all about you. Sure someone might be able to help you find a job, but you also need to be able to help them get ahead too. It’s a two way street.
- Waiting Too Long To Start – You need to start networking as soon as possible. If you wait until you’re desperate, it won’t pay off. It takes time to build a network and it takes even more time and effort to be able to call in a favor from your network.
- Not Listening – People often overlook the value of listening. Be sure to listen to what others have to say.
- No Conversation Starters – Sometimes striking up a conversation is the hardest part of networking. Do your best to find mutual conversation topics or have a few conversation starters ready to help break the ice.
- Not Having Business Cards – Business cards are one of the best ways to get a contact’s details. Always have business cards handy and give them out to every contact.
- Lacking Preparation – You need to be prepared when you meet people. Have conversation starters ready and know what things you might want to chat about.
- Dressing Unprofessionally – What you wear has a direct impact on how people perceive you. Wearing the right clothing is especially important when attending a networking event.
- Wallflowering – It’s easy to stand in the corner and talk to the few people you know, but that’s not what networking is about. Step out of your comfort zone and meet people.
- Not Following Through – Congratulations for meeting people. Don’t forget to follow up with them via email, in person, or even a hand written note. It’s the follow through that solidifies your network.
- Not Saying Thank You – A simple thank you can go a long ways when it comes to remembering people in a positive light. Always say thank you.
- Relying On Social Networking, Not Face-To-Face Networking – It’s easy to hide behind email when you reach out to people, but this isn’t the best way to grow a network. You need to log some facetime with people so they really get to know you. The social networks will never replace a hearty handshake and a smile.
Pay attention to your network. Start early and maintain the relationships that you need to build. The thing about networking is that you never really know when you’ll need to call in a favor or when someone will call in a favor of you, but that’s what networking is all about.
Spend the time to build your network. Don’t make any silly networking mistakes. You never know where your professional connections will take you.