10 Things Never To Say to a Networking Contact
When you think about career networking, it’s usually about who to approach, where to find connections and how many contacts you can engage. What’s just as important is how you interact with your networking contacts.
The quality of your dialogue with your networking contacts can have a big impact on how helpful—or not—those individuals decide to be.
Networking Not By the Numbers
Networking isn’t a numbers game. One solid contact can be the one who helps you get hired. You could connect with a hundred other people, but if you don’t approach them the right way or you say or do the wrong thing you’re wasting everyone’s time—including your own.
The following suggestions for what to avoid during your networking discussions can help you get the most out of your interactions with your contacts.
10 Things Never to Say to a Networking Contact
1. Avoid asking your contacts to help you get a job before you have laid the groundwork. Start by asking if you can have a consultation with them about your career situation so that they can advise you.
2. Don’t disparage your current boss or colleagues. Even the most supportive contact may view you as someone who has a negative attitude or problems with authority. Define your reasons for seeking a new job as positively as possible. Emphasize what you are seeking as opposed to what you are fleeing.
3. Don’t say that you are clueless or have no sense of what you would like to do at this point. Be prepared to share some of the possibilities that you are considering, so you can ask for feedback about those options and/or referrals to people in those niches.
4. Avoid saying or implying that things haven’t gone well in your current position. Be prepared to share the highlights with an emphasis on skills you have applied, especially assets that you would like to feature in your next job.
5. Never say “Let’s split the bill” if you go for a networking drink or meal. If you prompted the meeting, then you should pick up the check.
6. Never convey the sense that you were disappointed with what the contact had to offer by saying something like “Can’t you think of anyone who I should contact?” Some contacts will need time to consider what type of assistance they are willing and able to provide. Express gratitude for whatever they offer.
7. Don’t keep talking and asking questions without listening carefully to each response. Try to establish a dialogue. Productive networking discussions entail listening carefully, conveying that you understand and asking follow up questions.
8. Don’t voice or imply that you are desperate for a change. Your contacts do not need to hear about your financial problems. Desperate networkers will generate fewer referrals. Your contacts may not choose to share contacts or referrals for fear that you will represent yourself, and by extension them, badly.
9. Don’t say too much about yourself at once. Give your contacts the opportunity to react and ask questions in between your sharing.
10. Don’t speak exclusively about yourself. Networking should be a two-way street. Find out what is going on with each networking contact and try to help them as well.