One never knows when an opportunity to make a new connection will present itself. Networking can happen at a social event, online, or at a business conference. Making new connections is important, not only for your personal life, but also your professional one. Knowing how to foster those new connections is a skill worth developing.
While networking is essential for career success, many people tend to make counterproductive networking mistakes. These mistakes, while unintentional, can sabotage your efforts of establishing strong relationships you need to boost your career.
When looking to build dynamic, reliable professional relationships, there are some mistakes you should avoid at all costs.
Asking Too Much Too Soon – Often times, people don’t start the practice of networking until they need something. Building relationships that include trust and mutual respect takes time. Asking favors of someone you just met can make you seem presumptuous, if not greedy, and can turn people off quickly. In order to avoid this mistake, look for opportunities to network all the time, not just when you need something. When you establish a connection with someone, put forth a “giving is better than getting” attitude. See how you can help the other person before expecting them to do something for you. Most people will be more than willing to return the favor when the time comes.
Failing to Follow Up – Just because you meet a person once doesn’t mean they have become a valuable contact that you can look to in the time of need. After making new connections, follow up by looking for them on social media platforms and stay connected. In some situations, you may even be able to follow up with an in-person meeting. Obviously, this is not realistic to expect with everyone you meet but take advantage of it if the opportunity presents itself. At bare minimum, follow up with an email or social media message and put an effort into building the relationship.
Staying in your Comfort Zone – When attending a networking event, it is counterproductive to only socialize with people you already know. While catching up with acquaintances is necessary, it is also important to push yourself to meet new people, as well. You limit the effectiveness of your networking if you restrict yourself to friends that you see often. Set a goal of talking to at least three new people at every event you go to. Chances are, you won’t form a connection with all three, but you have a better chance of it than if you stay in your comfort zone.
Networking is a valuable tool, when you do it correctly. Remember that making common networking mistakes can do more harm to your career than not networking at all. Focus on correct strategies and you’ll have an easier time building essential working relationships.