Four huge networking mistakes to avoid making

Networking is a great way to increase your chances of success as you navigate your career path, but there will be potholes along the way that you should avoid.  Here are just a few common networking mistakes you’ll want to steer clear of.

1.  Neglecting your contacts

When you enter the working world, you’re going to get busy.  Not only will work take up a lot of your time, but if you enter a romantic partnership, start a family, and purchase a home, you’re going to take on a lot of personal obligations.

This can make it difficult to maintain outside relationships, and professional connections are likely to take the back burner.  That said, it only takes a moment to say Happy Birthday or congratulate a contact when you see he/she has changed jobs or gotten a promotion.  Maintaining professional relationships doesn’t have to take up all your time, but you should devote a modicum of time to it as part of your professional regimen.

2.  Taking but not giving back

Abusing your network is a big no-no.  If you’re going to ask for help to get a leg up in your career, you’d better be willing to reciprocate.  Think of your network like a tree.  If you don’t give it water and food, the branches will start to wither and die.  Feeding your network means responding when people reach out to you and providing them with the same assistance you’d expect to receive.

3.  Saying no to connections

There are valid reasons for turning down requests to network.  If you find another person morally reprehensible or you suspect they are engaging in unethical or even illegal practices, you naturally won’t want to align with them.  On the other hand, you shouldn’t turn down a chance to grow your network just because you don’t think a person can offer you some advantage.

You never know where people are going to go.  Just imagine if you wrote off a nerdy introvert in college and he turned out to be the next Bill Gates, Oprah, or Warrant Buffet.  You’d be kicking yourself for the rest of your life.

4.  Not acting professionally

It’s not always easy to keep professional relationships from becoming personal ones, but you always need to maintain a professional demeanor.  This means using a business appropriate contact (reserve for your dating profile), staying sober and dressing in office appropriate attire at networking events, and being honest (no padding your resume or pretending you got a referral from a mutual contact when you didn’t).  Act professionally if you want to be treated as a professional.

Post by Sarah Harris

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