Nov 25, 2021

Networking Mistakes to Avoid

Networking is one of the most valuable skills to have no matter where you are in the job market spectrum. The importance of networking cannot be overstated, especially in the world we live in today, where aside from developing regular networking skills, you’re also expected to have a grasp on online networking skills.

As important as networking is, there are certain faux pas to avoid when you’re trying to build a strong network. Here are a few mistakes you can avoid and some ways in which you can create better networking relationships. Thank us later!

Not having a clear objective

Never go into a networking event or online networking without having a clear objective. When you initiate a network connection, your main objective should be to build relationships on three major criteria – like, trust and know.

Getting to know your contact should be No.1 on your list and some great icebreakers would be to ask them open ended questions such as, how they got into the business or what type of businesses they might be looking to get referred into. Build a rapport with your connection and establish mutual trust so that they’re aware that you don’t have any hidden agendas.

Being Self-Focused

Why is it important to network? The answer is simple, to create meaningful connections and build strong professional relationships with people in your industry. But if you only talk about yourself and push your own agenda without really listening to what they have to say, the whole point of building a connection is lost.

Remember to strike a balance between giving and receiving relevant information in order to retain the interest of your potential network connection.

Failure to follow up

Connections are not built in a day, so it’s important to follow up and take a genuine interest in staying in touch with your network connections. It’s never a good idea to connect with someone online and then just forget about them until you have a favor to ask them. It’s true that you probably don’t have the time to talk to every single connection in person on your LinkedIn, but you can still follow up via email and continue to build that relationship over time.

Forgetting to be polite

It doesn’t take much to start a conversation with a simple “hello” or “how are you?” when you’re messaging a potential connection. Whether you’re at a networking event or even just catching up with a new connection, remember your manners. You can be fun and friendly but remember to have boundaries and little niceties like “please” and “thank you” can go a long way.

Coming across as too aggressive

It is important to stay in touch, but you also need to learn where your boundaries are when it comes to reaching out to your network. Don’t reach out so often that you end up becoming a disruption and tend to become overbearing. Try not being intrusive and instead stick to maybe a message or email once in two weeks or so.

Having hidden agendas

It’s a natural reaction to feel overwhelmed or embarrassed when you first start networking and end up not revealing your actual intentions. This could backfire and make people lose trust in your intentions. Be tactful and straight forward about your intentions when you connect with someone, and they will appreciate your candor which will help them help you. One way to do this would be to prepare an elevator pitch before you connect with someone to elaborate what you’re looking to get out of that connection.

Judging a book by its cover

Prejudging someone before you’ve had a chance to interact with them is one of the biggest mistakes you can make while networking. You never know who might ending up becoming your most helpful connection until you take the time to get to know them. Give people your time and complete attention and watch it turn into some of the most rewarding professional relationships you might have. Keep an open mind and avoid jumping into conclusions.

Not looking at the big picture

When you ignore the long-term nature of building a relationship with your network connection and are purely focused on the short-term benefits, you tend to lose out on creating a strong professional network. To get the best results out of networking, use a collaborative approach and build your connections over time.

Sending LinkedIn requests without a message

If you’re sending a LinkedIn connection request to someone you have not previously connected or interacted with, please remember to include a custom message with your request. And try to stay away from a generic or high-level message like, “I would love to learn more about your career”.

Get into specifics, talk about a presentation or a post that your would-be connection had made. Take this message for example, “Hi Rob, I’m Kobe and I had attended your session at the XYZ Workshop and thought that your presentation was fantastic. If you have sometime in the coming weeks, I would love to connect with you and ask some follow-up questions”

Networking is not a one-way street

We all get busy sometimes and tend to brush off messages asking for help. But remember that networking works both ways! By not responding to any messages, your contacts may tend to believe that you’re in it for your own gain. Respond however you can and help in any way possible. This does not mean that you have work yourself to the bone and go totally out of your way to help someone, but if you’re able to help a contact within the scope of your knowledge and capability, please do. Offer to share their posts or have a brainstorming session if they’re stuck for ideas.

Most importantly, don’t keep score and be willing to connect, give, share, and treat your connection as a friend instead of merely a steppingstone onto your next venture. Any skill needs honing before you can master it, and the same goes for your online networking skills. Remember that the more you network, the better you become at it. In a world where it’s all about taking, being able to show that you genuinely care enough to interact with someone as a friend will make you a memorable contact to your network connections.