Thursday, November 10, 2011

4 Networking Mistakes You Don't Know You're Making

4 Networking Mistakes You Don't Know You're Making

Whether you're looking for a job or not, you've probably been encouraged to
"network, network, network!" more times than you can count. Are all those
conferences and events you're attending leading to new connections or

No? You're not the only one. Many networking newbies<>have tendencies that actually inhibit building real relationships with
their new contacts.

The good news: it's not that hard to fix. Here's what you might not even
realize you're doing wrong—and what to do about it.

Mistake #1: Talking about Yourself—All the Time

You're talented! Eager! Ambitious! You have lots of ideas to share! And you
want to make sure that every 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<>is overkill: Nothing can set a person off more than an aspiring
professional who takes no interest in anything 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 get their start? What
do they love about their jobs, and what do they wish they could change? By
taking an interest in your contact, you will make her feel valued—and
hopefully interested in continuing the relationship. And you'll likely gain
some new insights, too.

Mistake #2: Expecting a Job

You're looking for a new job, so you hit the circuit of industry events
every week, asking every person you meet to help you find your new gig<>—after
all, it's not what you know, it's who.

Well, yes. But give people some credit: If you pursue networking
opportunities purely for the job prospects, your contacts will figure you
out. You will leave them feeling used, and they will be less likely to
recommend you for an opportunity.

*The Fix: Provide Some Value. *If you're looking for a job, don't ask for
it—work for it. Do some research into what your contact does both in and
out of work and find ways that you can contribute your time or support.
Perhaps you could volunteer your expertise in social media<>for the big convention she's heading up, or offer your accounting knowledge
for her non-profit. Provide some opportunity for contacts to see you in a
working light, and you'll be that much closer to a good referral.

Mistake #3: Not Saying Thanks

You attended a large event last week and grabbed coffee with one of your
new professional contacts afterward. And then—the week got busy, and you
didn't get around to saying thank you. She'll understand, right?

Maybe. But if you don't show gratitude, even in the smallest (or largest)
event, you risk leaving a negative impression—probably not the desired
outcome of your meeting.

*The Fix: Just Do It. *Whether you pack notecards in your purse<>for post-meeting scribbles, set yourself a reminder on Gmail to send off a
quick note, or just insert a quick "thanks for taking time to meet with
me!" at the final handshake, you must say thank you. Not only will you
solidify your reputation as a courteous individual, but you won't be
leaving your contacts with a bad taste in their mouths. Always say thank
you, and your good impression will last until your next meeting.
Mistake #4: Forgetting to Follow Up

You meet someone over a networking<>happy hour and tell her you'll send her your portfolio. But as the night
goes on, she has a few drinks and meets a few dozen more people. You're
sure she's forgotten all about you, so you decide it's not even worth
emailing her the next day.

Bad idea. Meeting someone is just the first step in networking. In order to
forge a lasting relationship (and make sure people don't 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. Even if you're not sure she remembers you, you
can bet that she will be grateful that you took the time out of your day to
send her what you had discussed. If you're worried about forgetting, keep a
pen near your business card holder to quickly scribble out what follow-up
actions you have for that contact, and review your cards after the event.

Above all, keep in mind that networking isn't about short-term gain, but
about learning<>,
growing, and forming connections. Adopt good social habits, and you'll see
your skills and comfort improve, your opportunities increase, and your
relationships grow—for the long haul.

*This article originally appeared on The Daily Muse<>.
For more advice on nailing the job search, check out.*

*Diane is a recent graduate of the University of St. Thomas currently
working at Three Deep Marketing as an Interactive Marketing Associate as
well as The Daily Muse <>. *
*Brought to you by: Lawyer Asad*

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