To find career success, you need a strong, reliable network. Several studies have found that the vast majority of new hires acquire their positions thanks to connections, which means you need to meet people and maintain relationships if you want to scale your career ladder in record time.
Unfortunately, networking doesn’t come naturally to everyone. In fact, most people make serious networking mistakes without ever realizing how they are hindering the development of their career. If you want to grow a network, you need to know how to do it right. Learning about the following common networking blunders will help you avoid sabotaging your career before it takes off.
1. Meeting Too Few People
To develop beneficial relationships with people, you first have to meet them. Unfortunately, the modern world doesn’t always make it easy to encounter likeminded others organically. Thus, to build your network, you typically must go out of your way to find the right connections. One tactic is to apply to online MBA programs, which will put you in-touch with the precise professionals who can help you into the career of your dreams. Another is to attend endless numbers of networking events – and maximize your time meeting and greeting everyone there. The more connections you make, the more likely you are to find someone who can benefit your career.
2. Focusing on Shop Talk
Even at networking events, you should try to avoid talking too much about work. After the customary exchange of job titles and employers, you should try to steer the conversation toward more interesting and relatable topics, like hobbies, popular movies and books, or travel. This will help you find common ground between you and your potential contacts, making you memorable and giving you ways to connect in the future. If work comes up naturally, you shouldn’t be afraid to discuss it, but you should absolutely avoid conversations concerning no-go issues, like:
- Downer personal issues
- Problem habits
3. Hearing, Not Listening
You introduce yourself, and you mentally prepare your next topic of conversation – but you forget to listen to the other person’s name or profession. The social pressure of networking can be immense, and many people respond to the stress by focusing too much on their own speech and reactions at the expense of their conversational partners’. However, it’s relatively easy to tell when someone isn’t paying attention to what you say, and most people are less inclined to connect with people who are blatantly not listening. Despite whatever anxiety you may experience in networking situations, you must strive to be present, respond appropriately, and remember what you hear.
4. Lacking Follow-Through
Meeting someone is important, but following up with them is as important to build a solid and lasting relationship. You can’t expect your contacts to reach out to you, especially if you are at a less-advantageous position and need their help to secure career leads. Before you part ways, you should secure a business card, an email address, or a LinkedIn profile – some way to connect with your potential contacts again in the future. From then on, you should send regular emails or schedule meetings every so often to keep in touch.
5. Expecting Too Much
Everyone knows that the purpose of networking is to improve your career. However, that won’t happen right away. You can’t begin a networking relationship with demands for better jobs with better pay; instead, you need to give before you can get. You should show your contacts that you are valuable by offering useful professional services, furthering their networking efforts, or performing some other task they need. Even then, you shouldn’t expect a single contact to gift you your dream job. Likely, it will require several years, several positions, and a larger and more powerful network to make that happen.
6. Neglecting Gratitude
If you didn’t learn it as a child, then better late than never: You must thank the people who do things for you. However, your gratitude doesn’t have to be sensational or shocking; if you lack the time and tools to send a handwritten thank-you card, a simple email will often suffice. As long as your contacts know that you acknowledge their efforts in improving your career, you will maintain positive relationships and continue to benefit from your network.