Successful job seekers work hard to grow their network. So the last thing any job seeker wants to do is ruin a first impression or annoy contacts with blunders or missteps. To have a robust and thriving network, it’s critical you treat your contacts right, building good will with every encounter.
Here are some common networking mistakes and how to avoid them:
Leading with your pitch. Whether it’s reconnecting with someone you know or making a new contact, one of the biggest networking blunders ever is leading with a canned pitch or “elevator speech”. It completely ruins your chance of making the right first impression. There is a time and a place for your 20 second pitch. Be sure you know how to articulate who you are and what you have to offer, and be sure you know when and how to use that pitch.
Making it all about you. Good networking conversations are dialogs, exchanges of information with each side learning about the other. Check yourself: Are you going on and on about what you need? Or, are you listening, asking questions and responding?
Asking for too much. As you proceed in your job search, it’s normal to have to ask your network for help. But beware of asking for too much. For example, asking a recent contact to arrange a meeting between you and a high level manager in the company may be too much. Asking your contact to forward your resume with an introduction might be more reasonable.
Refusing to respect a “no”. If your contact feels your ask is too big, or does not feel comfortable with it, he or she may turn down your request and that’s OK. Hounding the person, disrespecting their “no” will only alienate your contact, making it less likely that he or she will help you with a smaller or different request in the future.
Being too casual. Even when networking with someone you know very well, a level of professionalism is important. Keep in mind that any email may be forwarded. Avoid being casual or using shorthand that may look strange to someone who doesn’t know you as well. For example, “Dude, can you hook me up with the clown who runs your division?” is a no-no. “Hi Sam, I would appreciate an introduction to your division manager” is far more appropriate.
Taking for granted. If the only time you reach out to someone in your network is when you need something, you’re not nurturing this precious asset. One solution is to simply create a schedule for regular outreach. An email asking your contact how he or she is doing and updating on your job search is a way of nurturing your network so it’s there when you need it.
Not giving back. What goes around comes around. Of course, your top priority is finding a job for yourself and that is where the majority of your time and effort will go. But in the course of it, you will often stumble on easy ways to help others. Be sure you give back whenever you can.
Forgetting to thank. Be sure to thank your contacts for every single assist big or small. It’s gracious, people you thank are more likely to help you again and every communication helps keep you top of mind with your contact.
Your network is precious! It will help you uncover hidden job leads, pave the way for your interviews and advance your candidacy for jobs. Nurture your network and treat it with great respect and it will be there for you when you need it.
Tell us, what do you consider a networking no-no?