Do you have a strong handshake and live to meet people? Is this enough to efficiently network? Avoid these 5 networking mistakes that risk wiping out your efforts.
1. You don’t network often enough
More often than not, we enter networking mode when we want something: a new job, a reference, or a meeting with an important person. But, to get what we want, we need to network often and, in the long term, see it through to the end. “People rarely give you work after the first encounter,” explains the Quebec regional vice-president for the recruitment agency Robert Half, Michael O’Leary. “This happens after more meetings. After they have taken their time to identify an individual’s skills and are at ease with sharing business needs.
2. You aren’t prepared
For O’Leary, who has perfected his networking skills for over 20 years, the gravest mistake is participating in events without a specific plan. He believes, “Many people take networking for granted. For them, it’s an amusing cocktail party, but they leave without adding anything valuable. It’s fun, but we want to conduct business, find a job, make contacts, and increase our social circle.” In order to be well prepared, he advises inquiring about attendees and their professional background. “I like refreshing my memory by looking up their faces on LinkedIn.” Affirms O’Leary. If you don’t want to miss your chance, it is essential to aim for people with whom you want to build a connection.
3. You don’t go off the beaten track
Don’t hesitate to attend events outside of your field because not all opportunities are found at job fairs. An association activity open to all, charitable events, or even sports competitions are networking opportunities. Who knows what contacts can be made while rooting for your kids on the soccer field?
4. You’re too persistent
Another golden rule is to give before receiving. O’Leary, who advises to always give a reference or service if an opportunity arises, states, “You should always offer to help people get positions because they can give you a hand when it’s your turn.” Without hiding what we are looking for, don’t try to get what you want right away. This gives other people the impression that you are an opportunist. This could close people off who would have been open to helping if we had only given them a little bit of our time.
5. You don’t follow up
The next day, you should follow up with the people you met at the soirée and then you should maintain contact with them every once in a while, even once every couple of months. An interesting article, a job offer, a trip to their home region, are all good reasons to catch up or send an invitation to get coffee. It is impossible to increase your contact network without taking the trouble to maintain it.