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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.
Here’s the deal:
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 8 most common networking mistakes you might not realize you’re making, and how to fix them!
Talking about yourself all the time forever
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 about 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.
On that note…
Failing to actually 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. Take a break from talking about how great you are to ask people questions about themselves and listen instead.
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.
Not actually getting to know anyone
How do you build a network if you don’t actually make a connection with the people you meet? Here’s a hint — you don’t.
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.
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 for 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.
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.
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 to just simply slap a smile on your face. It’ll get much further than being a grumble grouch to everyone you meet.
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.
Forgetting to follow up when it’s all said and done
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.
Now you know how to be an effective networker!
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, it’s 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!