Top 20 Networking Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)
September 13, 2023
Networking mistakes are avoidable. We know that networking is an essential part of professional success. It’s about building relationships with people who can help you advance your career. But even the most experienced networkers can make mistakes.
In this blog, we’ll discuss the top 20 networking mistakes and how to avoid them. We’ll cover everything from not being prepared to not being a good listener. We’ll also talk about the importance of being genuine and authentic when you’re networking, and how to ask for help from your network. By the end, you’ll know how to network effectively and avoid making costly mistakes.
- Not Being Genuine
Be yourself. People can sense when you’re being inauthentic. Focus on building real connections rather than just advancing your career.
- Not Listening Actively
Avoidance Tip: Practice active listening by being present in conversations, nodding, and repeating back what you’ve heard.
- Failing to Follow Up
Send a follow-up email or note after meeting someone new, expressing appreciation for the conversation.
- Over-Promoting Yourself
It’s fine to share your accomplishments, but also show interest in the other person’s journey and achievements.
- Not Being Prepared
Always have a clear purpose for networking. Know your “elevator pitch” and research attendees or organizations beforehand if possible.
6-10 Networking Mistakes to Avoid
- Only Networking When in Need
Build and maintain your network continuously, not just when you’re job searching or need a favor.
- Forgetting to Offer Value
Remember that networking is reciprocal. Think about how you can help the other person, whether it’s by sharing knowledge, resources, or connections. It’s a huge networking mistake to think you’re networking only to get something. Think about people who only contact you when they need something. Yuck! Watch the richness of your relationships increase when you give value.
- Sticking to Your Comfort Zone
Venture beyond your immediate circle. Attend diverse events and engage with people from different industries or backgrounds. Be assertive and speak up. Be willing to share your knowledge.
- Not Keeping Track of Contacts
Use a system (like a simple spreadsheet) to keep notes on when and where you met people, and any important details from your conversations.
- Talking Too Much
Be sure that you are listening more than you are speaking. Allow the other person to share their insights and stories. It’s okay to share yours as well.
Keep Reading for 11-15 Networking Mistakes to Avoid
- Being Negative
Even if you’re having a tough time, try to keep interactions positive. Negativity can leave a lasting impression. You intention (or goal) is to build a fruitful relationship; so bashing a boss or old job is probably a no-no.
- Failing to Set Clear Intentions
Know what you want from a networking opportunity. Are you giving value, seeking advice, connections in a specific industry, or just broadening your horizons?
- Ignoring Non-verbal Cues
Pay attention to body language. If someone appears disinterested or in a hurry, be respectful of their time. And don’t take it personally.
- Not Respecting Boundaries
Understand that not everyone will be open to connecting or helping, and that’s okay. Respect their wishes and boundaries.
Every handshake, every conversation, every act of kindness is a stone laid in the path of enduring collaboration.
~Twanna Carter, PhD
15-20 Networking Mistakes to Avoid
- Only Sticking to Formal Networking Events
Networking can happen anywhere. Be open to connecting with people in casual settings such as hobbies, volunteering, and community events.
- Not Updating Your Online Presence
Regularly update your LinkedIn profile, personal website, or other professional platforms
to reflect your current skills and experiences.
- Overlooking the Importance of First Impressions
Dress appropriately for events, maintain good posture. It’s also important offer a firm handshake, and make eye contact. Of course, you may need to make some allowances depending on different cultures.
- Being Too Persistent
If someone doesn’t respond to your follow-ups, it’s crucial to know when to step back. Avoid overstepping boundaries and being too pushy.
- Not Showing Gratitude
Always express appreciation when someone helps you, offers advice, or provides a referral. A simple thank you can go a long way.
- Neglecting Online Etiquette
On platforms like LinkedIn, always send personalized connection requests and avoid spammy behavior.
Avoiding Networking Mistakes
Remember, networking is about building and nurturing long-term relationships. Approach it with sincerity, and you’ll find meaningful connections that can benefit you both personally and professionally. When approach this way, you avoid costly networking mistakes.
Ever felt overwhelmed by the thought of networking?
What if you could become a networking pro without it consuming hours of your time?
Introducing the 5-Step Guide: How to Succeed at Networking in Less than 30 Minutes a Week that will reshape how you think about professional networking:
Set Clear Goals – Define what you wish to achieve.
Identify Your Audience – Know who can help you reach those goals.
Connect Intelligently – Find the right people.
Be Genuine – Authenticity is your superpower.
Consistent Follow-Up – Building relationships requires regular touch points.
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Twanna Carter, PhD, ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC), is a career coach and relationship coach for Twanna Carter Professional & Personal Coaching, LLC. She is a career coach dedicated to empowering Black women leaders, helping them achieve their career goals. With more than 20+ years of experience, Dr. Twanna is recognized as an expert in leadership, personal development, business strategy, career development, and lifestyle balance. Helping professional women navigate change and uncertainty by providing them with the tools and strategies they need to be successful. Schedule a free 30-Minute Career Solution Call today.