Networking can be intimidating, especially if you are inexperience or entering a new industry. We won’t always strike the right balance between being friendly and approachable while remaining professional.
Sometimes, we are simply barking up the wrong tree, trying to find leads or build connections with people who aren’t interested or relevant. There are tricks to building a successful network but here are the networking mistakes we think you should avoid.
Sending empty connections requests
While this is very specific to online platforms like LinkedIn, it is a very common, easily made mistake. It is also possibly one of the most obvious and prolific networking mistakes. Sending a new contact an empty connection request shows them that you haven’t thought about why you want to connect, especially if you haven’t met or interacted beforehand. Personalise the invitation request with a message about why you want to connect, a common interest or request you share or a question you would like to ask them. By establishing a direct line of communication with your new contact from the outset, the online connection is more worthwhile.
Failing to follow through
You’ve been to an event and had some good conversations with fellow entrepreneurs and industry experts. You have a whole collection of business cards, that go in your bag, and you forget all about them. All that excellent networking you just did goes down the drain. Establish continued communication by getting in contact after the event, via LinkedIn or email if you were given it.
Your personal branding is very important. It should be consistent across all your online platforms and the materials you give out to anyone you meet at events. If you hand someone a business club, your website and social media should carry similar branding in order to make your landing site instantly identifiable to that person. It is as simple as using the same profile picture, the same bio, and if applicable, the same graphics. There will be others with your name online so you need to make sure your platforms and profiles are identifiable so your connections connect with the right person.
Do you only network when you need to?
One of the most common networking mistakes is to neglect your network or connections when you are happy in your current position or have a contact list full of clients. Even if you don’t necessarily need anything from your network or not looking to expand your business, you should be engaging with your connections. Why?
Firstly, you may not need anything from your network right now, but you may be able to help someone out. Your company or business may have a position they are currently interviewing for, and you could know someone who fits the role perfectly that is looking for their next opportunity. Sharing job adverts with your network is a great way to help people out.
Secondly, and especially if you run your own business, it is important to stay relevant. It is critical to be memorable and remain in the forefront of people’s minds. Neglecting your network until you need something from other people not only presents you are a potentially unreliable contact, but also makes you forgettable.
No connection left behind
Your most significant networking mistake might be the simplest. Don’t forget the network you already have. If all your efforts are being invested in expanding your network, you may end up losing communication with contacts you already have. The people who already know of you may be able to facilitate the connections you are currently looking for. Your established network are there to vouch for you, to act as credible references, and you should be present to return the favour.