Is it your greatest fear that you might show up on America’s Funniest Videos or on Epic Fail? Have you ever wondered if you are going to be found on one of those “blooper” videos or that a picture of you will show up on a blog about “10 Networking No-Nos?” Never fear, I’m here to prevent that. I’ve got your back!
Networking is not just lots of LinkedIn connections or dealing out business cards at an event. Here in Networking No-Nos – Part 1, I talk about good professional networking and in the upcoming Part 2, I’ll give you pointers on event networking.
No-No #1: Don’t network without a LinkedIn profile.
The definition of networking includes “…building a 2-way relationship…” Your contacts want to learn more about you, too. Whether you contact people by e-mail, phone, or hand out business cards at a professional event, you need a great profile on LinkedIn. It brings you credibility, shares insights about your professional life, and demonstrates you are current with the latest business networking technology. By a great profile, I mean you have a photo, a summary where readers can learn more about you, and a complete experience and education section.
No-No #2: Don’t call or text people out of the blue.
My baby-boomer friends will remember – phones used to be the way to network! Now, however, the phone can be a less than positive method of contact. Phone calls can be an interruption to the recipient, breaking into what they are currently working on. Phone calls can be black holes where your voicemail is recorded, never heard, and clearly not responded to.
I know you want to talk to the person you called, so e-mail them to ask for the best time to call. Request a 15-minute phone conversation and stick to the time limit. If they want to stay on the phone longer, they will, but you can show respect by saying, “Well, we’ve hit 15 minutes; do you have a little more time?”
No-No #3: Don’t name-drop without checking.
The upside of LinkedIn is that you can see who else knows a target connection of yours. The downside is that this feature is misused, triggering bad form. If you are going to say, “John referred me to you,” then John better know in advance! Otherwise, change your wording to something like, “We both know <names>,” then launch into the purpose of your call.
No-No #4: Don’t be coy – or secretive – about the reason you are reaching out to your network.
There is nothing more irritating than hearing, “I’m considering different directions my career can go,” or “I just want to learn about your background since I’m following a similar path.” That sounds like: “I’m satisfied where I am and just want to get your insights on what is possible.”
No! People want to help and will be more likely to give their time when you provide clear insight into your situation or what you want to accomplish.
No-No #5: Not following up with your network.
If you could see me right now, you’d see I’m pounding my fists on the table and pulling my hair out! This is my number one No-No! If you don’t follow up several times after interacting with someone in your network, it’s no longer called “networking.” It’s called USING.
Thank them right away for their time. Keep them posted on your progress. Don’t wait more than a month to e-mail them with an update on the issue they were helping you with.
No-No #6: Not being a gracious networker to others.
How many times have you been asked to give time to someone in need and you declined because you just didn’t have the time to give? You have a big job, you don’t believe you can help them, or what else? Pay it forward by saying “Yes” next time. If you can’t afford a full hour, offer 30 minutes. If they propose meeting somewhere else but your office is easier, then invite them to your office.
Stay with me, I have lots more! In Networking No-Nos – Part 2, I give you pointers on event networking. What not to do – and what to do – when you’re in a room full of people you probably don’t know.