Network Mistakes You Should Avoid

Network Mistakes You Should Avoid

Networking is valuable. Now that is an understatement. The benefits of building a strong professional network can never be overstated. Meeting new people in a business or social context works wonders for your career. It opens doors of opportunities for you as a job seeker or an employee looking to build a personal brand. Making worthwhile connections is a huge stepping stone, a ladder that helps you reach the top. Are you working on building a network? Then you might wonder if there is a right and easy way to do it. Yes, there is. But to make networking very much easier, you need to be aware of some mistakes people have made along the way. That way, you can avoid them and make networking a smooth and easy ride.


Network Mistakes To Avoid

We have compiled a list of mistakes you should avoid when networking. Dig in.

1) Starting Late: There is no wrong time to start building connections. The right time, however, is NOW. If you are still in the university, you do not have to wait till you graduate before you start seeking opportunities to meet like-minded people. Start small – from your coursemates, lecturers, colleagues, and a group of friends. Attend seminars, workshops, and other networking events. Use the internet and social media to your advantage too. Apps like LinkedIn have gone a long way in helping people build connections across various industries. In fact, connect with anybody you see as a future client, employer, or employee – and the good thing is that it can be everyone! You can start small and grow your connection as your career picks up instead of waiting for big shots in your industry to magically locate you. If you are a job seeker, do not wait till unemployment hits you hard before you start. Networking should not be a plan B, something to do when you are running out of time. Start as early as possible to build a circle that can connect and recommends you in the future. Do it at your own pace but consistently and continually because time is essential. Think of it this way: the more delays, the more opportunities missed.

2) Making Excuses Because You Feel Uncomfortable: This is the most common mistake people make when they are about to start networking. Making excuses leads to procrastination which indelibly means that you keep on putting off something as important as networking because you want to ‘play it safe’. Networking requires getting out of your comfort zone. Due to personal flaws or social hang-ups, most people shy away from meeting new people because they feel awkward or socially inept, are introverts, or the most popular one, do not know how to start and keep a conversation. Yeah, it is always scary and nerve-wracking to meet someone new and introduce yourself to them. Practice makes perfect though. Prepare what you want to say and practice it before a networking event in front of a mirror or friend. Be confident. Make proper introductions and present yourself as an in-demand brand. Pitch yourself. Talk about yourself, your career, and your interests, and ask questions to draw the other person out. Do not say too much or too little. This demands that you make in-depth research to help you know what to say and the right things to ask the person you are making a conversation with. Prior preparation also ensures that there is no awkward lull in your conversation. Get up and give yourself the push you need.

3) Not Knowing When to Move On: Networking is all about building professional relationships but the key is building useful ones. Not everyone you meet will be a good network. Some might be uninterested or respond outright in a rude way. Know when to politely excuse yourself and use the time to meet other valuable contacts. Adamantly continuing an uncomfortable conversation will likely bear no fruit and may make you seem desperate.


4) Expecting and Asking for Favours: The aim of networking should be to get to know your contacts and then get more connections through them, get tips and advice on growing your career, and also get information about the field. In the long run, that is, when you have already built a relationship with a contact, networking provides a fine opportunity to learn about job openings and eventually secure a job. Many have even testified to getting job offers during a networking event. However, networking is not an opportunity to beg for a job especially if you are meeting with your contact for the first time. When the both of you must have had a conversation and you have relayed your pitch, then you might be offered a job or scheduled for an interview. But do not make your contacts uncomfortable by asking them for a job in an inappropriate manner or demanding other ‘favours’ like expecting them to help you boycott a recruitment process simply because you know them or help you secure a position you did not qualify for. Do not expect to use them just for forwarding your CV or resume and putting in a good word for you. Do not look out only for your own gain. It does not give a good impression of you. It could sour a professional relationship and many have learned the hard way.

5) Letting a Relationship Die: This networking mistake is disastrous because it can be likened to burning bridges. You may feel reluctant to maintain correspondence with your contacts say, months after a networking event. It is important though to send them reminders of yourself in the form of a phone call, note, or email once in a while. Try to keep in touch. Not to be creepy, but you can call or write to thank them if their referrals and tips worked or tell them how it has helped you in building your brand. If they have helped you as a mentor, send a thank you message. That would show that you are appreciative and leave the door open for more opportunities. You do not have to be only on the receiving side. You too can recommend a contact, connect them to new people or give advice. That strengthens the relationship. Keep your connection with your contacts alive!


Final Thoughts

Networking is important but it does not have to be boring or disastrous whenever you try it. When you know what to avoid, then it will be easier to know what to do.

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