How to Avoid These 5 Common Networking Mistakes
Many people approach networking as a skill you either have or you don’t. The introverts avoid it at all costs, and the extroverts thrive on the excitement of social engagements and meeting new people. But both camps are capable of making mistakes that impact the effectiveness of their networking experiences. Before you go to that next industry event or strike up a conversation in line at the bank, consider these common errors and make an effort to avoid them.
- Too much self-promotion. We all know this person. We’ve all been stuck in a social situation with this person. But sometimes we don’t recognize when we are this person. When you’re networking, don’t make the entire experience about yourself. Allow the people around you to tell their story. Ask questions. Make connections. If you spend all of your time promoting what you do, you may have the opposite effect than your intention.
- Listening only to respond. Going along with this, it’s human nature to listen to a conversation with only the intention to respond. You only half listen until you hear something that reminds you of a point you wanted to make. It can be distracting and frustrating for the person on the other end of the consideration. Spend more time really listening to actually hear what others have to say. You may be able to use this information in the future to benefit you both.
- Only talking to people you know. This mistake is especially common with the introverts in the crowd. They’re already uncomfortable, so they spot someone they’ve met before and take a direct path to engage in a more comfortable conversation. This can be great in some cases, but if your goal is trying to meet new professional contacts, you could be limiting yourself. Instead, try to find someone you know who is also talking to someone else. Have them introduce you.
- Assuming you don’t know anyone. On the other side of the coin, far too many people try to go outside their own network to find new productive contacts. You can start with the people you already know before you have to put yourself in an uncomfortable situation. Reach out to former coworkers or managers. Connect on LinkedIn or ask them to meet you for coffee.
- Failing to follow up after the event. Finally, don’t forget to follow up with your new contacts after you meet them. Many people spend their time at networking events collecting business cards, but then they don’t do anything about it. The day after, or within a few days, sit down and write some emails thanking them for their time. Remind them about an aspect of your conversation and whatever you discussed that could be helpful for either of you. Otherwise, all of your networking will be done in vain.