Throughout your career, everyone tells you how important networking can be. It’s on virtually every list of advice written by professionals in every industry. Yes, networking is important, but many of you are probably doing it wrong.
Here are five bad habits to avoid when networking:
1. You’re Too Self-centered. Networking is about forming mutually beneficial relationships. If you’re too focused on your own needs instead of the other person’s, you’re doing it wrong. When you meet someone, ask them questions. It’s fine to answer questions they have about you, but don’t dwell on yourself.
Additionally, stop asking for so many favors. If you’re too needy, the other person is going to stop helping you out. Instead, offer to do something for them. You’ll see the benefits of this in a stronger relationship.
2. You’re Not Providing Value. When you introduce yourself, be concise. Briefly explain what you do and why you’re special. Show the other person why you are worthy of their time. Set yourself apart by getting to know them and having a valuable conversation. Provide them with your expertise or interesting news.
3. You’re Talking to Too Many People. Networking events are great. So are networking sites like LinkedIn. But in both situations, it’s important to not go overboard. You don’t have to meet everyone, and you don’t have to form relationships with everyone you meet. Take your time and build stronger relationships with fewer people. One good relationship is better than nine superficial ones.
4. You’re Not Following Up. Meeting someone once isn’t enough to form a beneficial relationship. After your conversation, go home and send the person a personalized thank you note. Email is fine, but you get extra points for something handwritten. Thank them for their time and for something specific about your conversation. This is a good opportunity to make your name stick in their mind.
5. You’re Relying Too Much on the Internet. Social networking is great, but it is not the only way you should be connecting with people. The best relationships are built face-to-face. Invite someone out to coffee. Pick up the phone and have a conversation. Figure out what fits into your busy schedule. Just don’t forget to maintain relationships after you’ve added each other on LinkedIn and Twitter.