Top 5 Networking Mistakes You Must Avoid

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Whoever thought that the stranger you met sometime back could be your best friend today? To get to where you are today, it must have taken some time to get to know each other, embrace your differences and enjoy each other’s company. The stage of getting to know each other is called networking. You begin by familiarising yourselves with each other, get into some “chit-chat” and exchange contacts to build a relationship.

Networking is ideal for your career growth. The more people you meet the more you expose yourself to opportunities. But there are times where you meet someone, exchange contacts and never get a callback. Truth is, many make mistakes with their first approach and interactions with networking contacts.

You will spend days worrying about it but you will continue in the wrong if you never get to know why you made a mess of yourself.  Do you want your next networking session to be successful? Let’s take a look at some mistakes you are likely to make you made and how you can correct them;

1. Neglecting The Power Of Face-To-Face Contact

Some people don’t enjoy having face to face interactions. Perhaps you are too scared to attempt because you feel like you are not an outgoing person and will get intimidated by the other person. But truth is, there is no substitute for getting out there and meeting people who might be or know someone who is hiring. You need to leave your comfort zone, gather courage and step out to really grab your opportunities.

You don’t want to miss out on great opportunities just because you were too lazy or scared to mingle. Go to at least two or three meetups a month, get those business cards and introduce yourself to the people in your industry. Don’t be shy even if you aren’t the most outgoing person, find a common ground and talk to one or two people at these meetups. Your one-time job opportunity could be out there waiting for you. You never know who will be there scouting for job seekers.

2. When You Expect Too Much Too Quickly

How do you approach your potential networks when you first meet them? Are you too quick to make your request known? Then that is the problem. Do not ask for what you want from networking contacts right away. For instance, if it is a job you are looking for, people will read through you if you get friendly just because you want to ask for work.

Get to know your contact first, who they are and what they do. Give them an opportunity to know you better plus the skills you bring to the table so that when they do hear of a job opening, they will put in a good word for you. Your golden opportunity is in your willingness and commitment to help. Start networking early. Remember, your goal is to broaden your network and make meaningful connections for the future.

3. Bad Online Presence

Networking these days has totally evolved. It is no longer all about going for meetups, chatting for some hours and exchanging contacts. Thanks to social media, networking has become much easier. You can make new professional contacts on platforms such as LinkedIn even before you meet them face to face. But this requires that your online lifestyle online speaks professionalism to attract the right people.

You can sabotage yourself with pictures, page activities and comments on social media that are not commendable. That is how your potential networks may find you unprofessional. Spend some time improving your LinkedIn profile and developing your networks. Recruiters will go through your social profiles to see who you are when you are not in an office setting. Don’t give them a reason to deny you a job opportunity.     

4. Failing at Personal Branding

If you want to make the right contacts, you must give your best at all times. The mistake many people make is not creating something remarkable and memorable after the first few minutes of networking. Your network’s first impression of you will tell if you are going to have a chance at a relationship with them. For this to happen, you should always present yourself in a professional way. This is what is known as personal branding.

Make personal branding an everyday commitment. Many millennials today are failing at personal branding because they forget it is key to creating and maintaining good networks. Personal branding begins with [G4] self-awareness[G5] . You should understand yourself, what transferable skills you have, what environments you work best in and what drives you to work. You may wear your best outfit for a networking event but your confidence will get you the contacts.

5. Not Following Up

Another common networking mistake is not following up with your contacts. Because of their busy schedule, you don’t expect them to be the first ones to reach out to you. You should give them direction on the kind of help you want to receive from them. It is up to you the job seeker to make the follow-up.

Send your contact an email from time to time or give them a call to schedule a meeting. Try not to go beyond boundaries. Remember to ask the appropriate times to call so you don’t come off as a bother. The last thing you want to do is annoy your networking contacts. After reaching out, follow up to build a good relationship.

Networking should not intimidate you. You could be walking right into your dream job because you tried to network, as long as you don’t give up on your search. Your time is now. It’s never too late to start. Get on to a professional site and connect with as many people as possible or call a friend to find out when and where the next networking session will be held. With these tips, you are set for successful and fruitful networking.

When last did you network with a potential employer? Share your experiences with us in the comment section below.

Nelly Sadongo-Bawa
Social Media and Community Marketer at Jobberman Ghana || Blogger || Motivator || Radio host || "Knowledge is like a garden. If it is not cultivated, it cannot be harvested."