Networking can be fun, I promise. It’s about finding your tribe and helping one another advance in your careers. In fact, let’s start a movement where we eliminate the word “networking” and replace it with “tribe cultivation.” I’ll bet people won’t cringe when we suggest a tribe cultivation event.
There are a few common mistakes and misconceptions that drive the negative views toward networking. Be sure to avoid these networking mistakes when attending your next networking event or meeting. You’ll enjoy yourself more and see better results.
Networking is about building relationships and staying at the forefront of people’s minds — for the right reasons. Present the best version of yourself, not your best guess as to what the person you’re speaking with wants to see. Most of us can spot inauthenticity and schmoozing a mile away, so know your value and practice your pitch to authentically present yourself in the best possible light.
2. Thinking one meeting is enough:
Wouldn’t it be nice if networking was “one and done?” It’s not. I regularly share a story of an experience I had early on in my career. A woman whom I didn’t know reached out and invited me for coffee. We hit it off and I was really impressed by her experience and professionalism. I promptly recommended her for a job at a company where I had strong relationships. The next time we were supposed to get together, she didn’t show up. Excuses persisted for subsequent meetings and I quickly learned that I had recommended her before ensuring she was someone I could put my name behind.
This story is a lesson for both sides. As a candidate, be sure to follow up, show up, and provide value. As a potential referrer, ensure you know as much as you can about the candidate before you make a recommendation. Your name is on the line.
3. Winging it:
Always have an intention before walking into a networking event or conversation and be ready for a contact to ask how she can help. Networking meetings and events can be a whirlwind of activity and your mind will probably be going a mile a minute. In preparation for the meeting, perfect your pitch so you know what information you’d like to share and consider practicing with a friend or trusted colleague to be sure your message is striking the intended tone. Before you walk in, think about what you want to get from the meeting so you can drive discussions toward that end.
4. Overlooking your current network:
Your network is much larger than you think. Your current and former colleagues are just the tip of the iceberg. You may have a small network as a systems analyst, but that isn’t the only thing that defines you. Are you a weekend volleyball player? Mother? Friend? Volunteer? Pianist? You know lots of people through those avenues, in addition to your professional life, and they should be labeled as important contacts.
A client recently shared with me that her close friend is a famous Spanish guitarist. I never would have known or guessed that she had that connection, but it’s there. It would have been a mistake to dismiss her as someone with no connections in the music industry only because she works in Human Resources. Share your search and the value you provide with everyone. You just never know!
Networking — er, tribe cultivation — is an essential part of job searching and career advancement. Stay away from these four very common pitfalls and you’ll be on your way to building authentic relationships that can help you in your career and beyond.
Alyson Garrido is passionate about helping people advance their careers and find jobs they will enjoy. As a career coach, she partners with her clients to identify their strengths and create a path toward a more fulfilling career. Learn more at www.alysongarrido.com.
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