13 Common Networking Mistakes (And How To Fix Them)

By Maddie Lloyd
Dec. 6, 2022
Articles In Life At Work Guide

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Summary: When networking you should avoid talking too much about yourself and not asking the person any questions. Ask they are answering questions, it is important to actively listen to them and show interest in your contacts career.

If you’re in the midst of a job hunt, chances are that you’ve been lectured a time or two on the importance of networking. It’s a great way to get your name out there and to get your foot in the door — if you know how to network the right way.

If you’ve been attending about a million networking events or career fairs and coming up short, chances are that you’re doing something wrong — but don’t panic. The good news is that networking mistakes are easy to fix, and once you know what to do, those valuable industry connections will come rolling right on in.

With that said, here are the most common networking mistakes you might not realize you’re making, and how to fix them.

Key Takeaways:

  • If you think of networking as a chore instead of an opportunity, your contact will be able to tell and will have no interest in talking to you.

  • Don’t wait until you need something to start networking, it’s a career-long activity that requires consistency.

  • Using social media is a great way to connect with people in your industry who are not in your area.

Common Networking Mistakes (And How To Fix Them)

13 Common Networking Mistakes

  1. Talking about yourself too much. Don’t take over the conversation by making it all about how wonderfully awesome you are. Instead of going off on a rant about all of your achievements, briefly introduce yourself by telling others your name and what you do.

    While letting people get to know you is an important aspect of networking, no one is going to care to learn anything if you can’t shut up for five seconds. Don’t make the entire conversation about yourself, or no one will want to talk to you or do you any favors in the future.

  2. Failing to actively listen to others and not asking them questions. When you’re networking, focus on listening rather than just waiting for your chance to speak. People are more likely to remember you and be a resource to you if you show them that you’re taking a real interest in them.

    Aim for questions like “How did you get started in your career?” “What do you love about your job, and what do you wish you could change?” By showing interest in your contact’s career, they’ll take an interest in continuing your professional relationship. Plus, you’ll gain some new insights and learn how to make some valuable career moves.

    Once you’ve made some solid connections, keep in touch with them. Keep track of their accomplishments, and congratulate them on any big career moves or achievements. You’ll seem more genuine, and it will help you in the long run.

  3. Not actually getting to know anyone. Make sure to end all of your networking conversations on a solid note by giving everyone you talk to your contact information and a plan for following up. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate plan — just let them know that you will reach out to them, and through which platform.

    You should aim to remember the most important people you talk to and to leave a good impression on them so that they remember you. Knowing what others value makes it easier for you to be a resource to them, so be sure to listen and offer your assistance wherever you can.

  4. Thinking of networking as a chore. For many of us, particularly those of us who are a little more on the introverted side, the thought of attending networking events is enough to make us want to curl up into a ball and sleep for a thousand years.

    Try shifting your view of networking from a necessary evil to a great opportunity to meet new people and make moves for your career. Seeing it as a miserable chore you have to endure is only setting yourself up for failure.

    Use networking to learn interesting things about other people instead of an event where you have to mingle with people who you have nothing in common with. Focus on the valuable relationships you’re bound to make, rather than the fact that you “have to” be there. Throwing a positive spin on any situation will increase your chances of finding success.

  5. Expecting to get a job out of it. We all know that being in touch with the right people is a great way to get your foot in the door for possible job openings, but you shouldn’t go into networking events expecting to walk away with five job offers.

    Your contacts will see straight through you and will probably choose not to associate with you. Don’t just ask people for jobs, show people how you could be of value to them in the future. Use your networking opportunities to describe what you do, and how it could benefit others.

  6. Giving off bad vibes. When you’ve submitted about a thousand resumes and job applications without landing a single interview, it can be easy to get a little discouraged. With that in mind, try not to let your cynicism shine through when you’re networking.

    Coming off as desperate, jaded, or even angry is no way to present yourself when meeting people who could be valuable connections in the future. Plus, it just makes people uncomfortable.

    If you want to convince someone to add you to their network and help your cause, it’s important to show that you’re confident, have a positive attitude, and simply slap a smile on your face. It’ll get much further than being a grumble grouch to everyone you meet.

  7. Waiting to network until you need something. Networking isn’t just something you do when you’re actively job-searching — it’s a career-long activity that requires consistency. A robust network is comprised of individuals who have the means to support each other in various ways. The relationships that make up your network should begin well before you actually need something from them.

    Network early and often by searching for networking events, volunteer opportunities, or simply scanning LinkedIn for people that would make great allies.

    While you can network rapidly in a pinch and get your foot in the door for new job opportunities, these relationships are usually shallow and short-lived. It’s much better if your relationships with members of your network are based on a common mission or interest, rather than a one-off favor.

  8. Not making the right ask. When you do have a definite request that you’d like to see a member of your network help with, it’s essential to identify the scope of the person’s ability to help you and adapt accordingly.

    • If you’re discussing job openings with a peer, you can’t expect them to just land you a job — but you can ask for a referral or for them to set up a meeting with a company rep who can land you a job.

    • The idea is that you want to keep your requests simple and specific. If a member of your network is kind enough to sit down and discuss job openings, take time to prepare and ask insightful questions that maximize the helpfulness of the conversation.

    • Don’t just ask for them to send in a resume for you — ask what the interview process is like, what sort of company culture you’d be stepping into, and major challenges that your desired department is currently facing.

    • The advice and help that your network can provide you is limited — knowing the scope of those limits will help you make better asks that have a better chance of success.

  9. Focusing on the wrong metrics. When you go to a networking event, don’t think of it as a game where the goal is to hand out as many resumes as possible while receiving as many business cards. Out-of-context resumes are rarely well-received (or even remembered) and a stack of business cards isn’t worth much if you can’t put faces to the names.

    Instead, slow down and focus on the quality of your conversations, rather than the quantity. If you spend four hours at a networking event and make one really good connection, that’s better than meeting 10 people who will never remember you after (or vice versa).

    Also, when you meet fewer people, it’s easier to take notes and stay organized. That makes following up much easier and more natural, so your long-term results should improve as well.

  10. Only targeting big names. We’ve all met people like this before — if you’re not a high-level executive or big-whig in the industry, you’re not worth talking to. It’s a really unattractive quality. Don’t be that guy who has one face and attitude for the “important” people and another for the lowlifes who are of no use to you.

    The thing is, even if you’re an unapologetic sociopath, being disrespectful toward people who have nothing to offer you makes you look bad. Treat everyone you meet with respect — mostly because it’s the right way to be, but also because it’ll make your networking endeavors that much more pleasant and successful.

  11. Lying. When you feel insecure about your skills or your place in the industry, you might be tempted to embellish your credentials or skill set. It’s not a good idea.

    Networking is about making connections and building trust, and when you start a relationship with falsehoods, you’re setting yourself for a lot of stress (in keeping up the lie) or a huge loss of respect (if your lie is discovered).

    Instead of being self-conscious about your current status, look at networking as a great opportunity to learn more about the skills that are highly valued in your industry. Then, you’ll know how to devote your time to self-improvement most effectively.

  12. Not saying thank you. In the whirlwind of meeting new people, it can be easy to forget to say thank you to one or two of your new contacts, but that doesn’t mean you should let it happen. If you don’t show gratitude after meeting someone and having an insightful conversation, you risk leaving a bad impression on them and losing what could be a valuable resource.

    Keep track of everyone you meet, and send out emails in which you reiterate the major points of your conversations and thank them for taking the time to speak with you. This is a quick and easy way to show that you’re courteous and that you’re not just interested in using someone for your own personal gain.

  13. Forgetting to follow up. One of the cardinal rules of interviewing and networking is to always follow up. Meeting people is only the first step in networking, and to maintain a relationship with someone, you’ve got to follow up and stay in touch with them.

    Hold yourself accountable so your contacts don’t forget about you. Even if you’re not sure if someone remembers you, it’s a good idea to stay on their radar. Take some time out of your day to send them an email where you restate the major points of your conversations with them. Your effort won’t go unnoticed.

Networking Tips

  • Prepare. If you are going to a networking event, make sure you come prepared with plenty of copies of your resume and business cards. You should also have a pen and paper to write anything down with.

  • Be ready to give your pitch. Most of networking means being equipped with marketing yourself well, no matter the situation. You should have an elevator pitch, around 30 seconds long. In this pitch, you should be able to communicate well and give your strengths and why you would be a good fit for the company.

  • Use social media. Social media is a great way to network. Use websites such as LinkedIn and Facebook to connect with those in your industry. Keeping active on these sites can help you stay up-to-date on current news and hiring trends.

    Just be aware of your online presence because employers often check social media sites as a way to screen candidates. Switch your social media to private or clean it up to be appropriate.

  • Research. Take some time to research who you are meeting with. This can help you come up with more intelligent questions about the person or work environment. It’s also another way to show your interest.

  • Stay in touch with your network. Networking doesn’t end after the event is over. Make sure that you give the person current contact information and follow up with the person to preserve your connection.

Networking FAQ

  1. What is networking?

    Networking is the process of making connections and building relationships. Networking is important when it comes to getting a job because your connections can help give you advice and help you make informed decisions about your career.

  2. What are different ways to network?

    You can networking using social media, connecting with friends and family, and volunteering. When using social media, use websites such as LinkedIn and Facebook to help you connect with those in your industry. Your friends and family will know you the best, but they may not be able to help you professionally.

    Volunteering is a great way to get active in your community and get to know those in your community. Another way to network is to contact professionals and alumni associations.

  3. How do you make the most of networking?

    To make the most of networking is to ask questions and to be yourself. Listening carefully and asking follow up questions is a great way to learn more about the person you are talking to as well as the industry or job.

    Being yourself is another way to make the most out of networking because your connection becomes genuine. Being honest and authentic is what people highly value.

  4. What should I bring to a networking event?

    When going to a networking event you should bring copies of your printed resume, business cards if you have them, and pen and a pad of paper. While those are the physical things that you should bring, having questions you want to ask is something you should be prepared with.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to network is a useful skill to have for any professional. It’s a great way to meet others in your industry who you wouldn’t encounter in your daily life, and a valuable tool for getting your foot in the door when you’re looking for a new job.

Remember that networking is about learning from others and forming genuine connections. Show that you have a positive attitude, listen to others, and maintain your relationships. If you follow these tips, your network is sure to grow and flourish.


  1. Columbia University Center for Career Education – What is Networking, and Why Do You Need To Do It?

  2. Division of Student Affairs Career Center – 10 Tips For Effective Networking

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Maddie Lloyd

Maddie Lloyd was a writer for the Zippia Advice blog focused on researching tips for interview, resume, and cover letter preparation. She's currently a graduate student at North Carolina State University's department of English concentrating in Film and Media Studies.

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Topics: Get The Job, Resume