Networking is a critical part of business success. Still, it’s also one of the most commonly mishandled aspects of professional life. From talking too much to neglecting your connections, there are several networking mistakes that can cost you dearly in terms of time, energy, and opportunities.
To help you avoid these costly mistakes, we’ve compiled a list of eight things to avoid doing when networking. By following this advice, you’ll be sure to make the most of every networking opportunity and build solid and lasting relationships along the way.
1. Not having an "elevator pitch".
When you meet someone new, be prepared to quickly and concisely describe who you are and what you do. This “elevator pitch” should be interesting and relevant to the person you’re speaking with. If you can’t capture their attention in a few sentences, they will likely tune out and move on.
2. Neglecting your online presence.
Your online presence is just as significant as your in-person interactions in today’s digital world. Make sure your social media profiles are up-to-date and professional. This will help you build trust and credibility with potential employers, clients, and business contacts.
3. Being overly self-promotional.
When networking, it’s important to focus on building relationships and providing value first and promoting yourself second. If you’re constantly trying to sell yourself or pitch your services, people will quickly get turned off and tune out. Instead, focus on being helpful and sharing your expertise.
4. Not following up after meeting someone.
If you meet someone new that you’d like to stay in touch with, make sure to send a LinkedIn request or email within 24 hours of meeting them. This shows that you’re interested in maintaining the relationship and ensures that their name stays top-of-mind when they need someone with your skills or services.
5. Not staying in touch with your network.
Just because you don’t need anything from your network doesn’t mean you should neglect them entirely. Keep in touch with the people you know by sending occasional emails, LinkedIn messages, or even holiday cards. This way, they’ll be more likely to think of you when an opportunity arises that fits your skillset well.
6. Failing to ask for help when you need it.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your network for help when you need it. Whether you’re looking for a job, seeking advice, or searching for business opportunities, your network can be a valuable resource. Just make sure to return the favour once you’re in a position to help others.
7. Not paying it forward.
Once someone has helped you in your network, pay it forward by helping others whenever possible. By giving back, you’ll build goodwill and strengthen your relationships with the people in your network.
8. Burning bridges.
Always try to leave things on good terms, even if things don’t work out professionally with someone. You never know when you’ll need their help down the road, so it’s best not to burn bridges unnecessarily.