12 Things Not To Do When Networking
Networking is a critical component of job searching. It can make or break your job search. You can gain a tremendous advantage if your networking campaign is well-managed. Done right, networking can connect you with people who will help you get hired. The people you know and the people you meet can be the best resources to help you get hired.
Unfortunately, the opposite is true if you don’t do the right things. Networking done wrong can cost you the opportunity to find job leads and get referrals. Networking is all about relationship building, and it’s not a one-shot deal. It should be ongoing and mutually beneficial for you and your connections.
Review these tips to maximize the benefits from your networking efforts while avoiding some of the typical mistakes networkers make.
12 Things Not To Do When Networking
1. Don’t be an on-again off-again networker. Maintaining strong contacts requires a sustained effort whether you are in job search mode or not. Touch base with your contacts periodically and exchange updates on professional and personal issues. Even a brief message about how the family or pets are doing can help build a relationship.
2. Don’t engage in networking without updating your resume and LinkedIn profile. You want to be ready to respond immediately if your contact offers to make an introduction or a referral for a job. Update both (and make sure they match) before you start seriously reaching out. Here’s how to update your resume and refresh your LinkedIn profile.
3. Only connect online. Don’t rely exclusively on virtual interactions with key contacts. Try to have a telephone or in-person conversation periodically to bolster your relationship. Even a quick meeting over a cup of coffee can lead to more recommendations for connections and job referrals.
4. Don’t make it all about you. Your networking communications shouldn’t be all about you and your needs. Offer assistance to your contacts, and you will find that they are more likely to help you when you reach out to them. For example, share articles and other professional information that you encounter when you think that it might be of interest to your contacts.
5. Asking for a job is not a good idea. Be subtle and don’t ask for direct job search assistance too early in your networking interactions. Lay the groundwork by exchanging updates and asking for advice. Let the request for job referrals flow naturally from your conversation. Often it is best to let your networking partner take the lead with offers of concrete assistance.
6. Telling the world that you are job searching is not a good idea either. Don’t broadcast announcements that you are in job search mode if you are currently employed. Word can get back to your employer and damage your standing. Usually, you will be better served by making individualized approaches to contacts without tipping your hand about finding a new job. Be sure to turn off your LinkedIn activity feed, so the boss doesn’t catch you job search.
7. Limiting your outreach to individuals who are obviously connected to your target job or industry will reduce the opportunities you’ll find. For example, you may be looking to move to another position within investment banking and haven’t contacted your uncle because he is a lawyer. However, you might be missing out since your uncle’s best buddy from his college fraternity may run a hedge fund, and he would do anything to assist your uncle.
8. Neglecting to ask for advice and assistance at the end of your networking exchanges will limit your effectiveness. Be sure to ask questions like these: “What would you advise me to do at this point to advance my job search?” and “Can you think of anyone else who I should consult about my search?”
9. Miss the opportunity to tap your college network, and you can limit your campaign. Most colleges will have networking groups on LinkedIn. In addition, the alumni, development, and career offices may be able to supply you with a list of contacts in your target fields, and they may sponsor networking events.
10. Don’t underemphasize the value of your most powerful contacts, those individuals who have overseen your efforts in productive roles. Former faculty, coaches, and managers are in a position to vouch for your work ethic, intelligence and effectiveness since they supervised your activities. Faculty, coaches, and supervisors can refer you to former students/athletes/colleagues with an endorsement.
11. Don’t say anything negative. Don’t badmouth your current manager, co-workers, or employer when networking. You might be perceived as a negative person even by seemingly trusted contacts, and you don’t want your comments to get back to the person you’re discussing.
12. Don’t neglect to follow up your meetings with an email expressing your appreciation for their help. If you discussed any next steps with your contact, reaffirm your intention to follow through and thank them specifically for anything they have offered to do.
Tip: Networking doesn’t have to be hard. These 5 easy ways to build your career network will help you grow your professional network.