Now that you’ve decided to build or expand your network, there are a few things that you should know. It isn’t uncommon to want to engage everyone, but this can actually be counterproductive for you. The reason for this is networking isn’t a one-time occurrence and it is necessary to keep in touch with your contacts. For example, if you meet 10 new people and want to include them in your network, you will need to follow up with all them! That’s not to say that you should blatantly disregard others, because networking requires other people. I am merely suggesting that you network intentionally and strategically. In order to network successfully, remember that networks aren’t built over night. This skill is essentially cultivated over time and then your network must to be maintained. Please keep the following in mind as you network so that you don’t make these common mistakes:
1. Avoid rambling. Communication needs to be clear and concise when networking. You should be able to make your point in 10 seconds, especially now that speed networking exists! Ever heard of speed dating? Same concept except you are building a network of professional contacts.
2. Visibility doesn’t always equal credibility. Believe it or not, there are some very visible people in organizations who lack integrity. As you build relationships, you want people in your circle that you can trust not popular ones with bad reputations.
3. Forgetting to follow-up isn’t acceptable. We sometimes underestimate the power of “the personal touch”. You should make the time to follow-up with your contacts. Whether that’s a thank you note, a phone call, or an email is totally up to you; the key here is to simply follow-up.
4. Having an unprofessional social networking page. It has been reported that 20% of recruiters check social media sites for prospective candidates. Some of the turn-offs on their list include inappropriate pictures, profanity and lewd comments, intolerant views of racism, sexism, etc. Your web presence says a lot about who you are and what you will bring to an organization.
5. Confidence is good; being pushy isn’t. While you want to come across as confident, you don’t want come across as a person who is cocky and aggressive. Enhance some of the basics that pertain to effective communication such as eye contact and listening while you are networking.
Once your network is established, remember that this effort is a two-way street. You can ask your network for help, guidance, advice or even who you should interact with next! Please make sure that you are eager to reciprocate the same for those who value you as a contact.
Best of luck to you as you build and expand your professional network.
More from this contributor:
How to Fireproof Your Career
Career Navigation: Your Very Own GPS
Are You Engaged (At Work)?