Real You: Five Common Networking Mistakes

Stopsign2Whether you’re looking for a new job or not, you need to get out there and network! You can build new business, find possible colleagues and learn a lot from other people in your industry and beyond. Check out these common networking mistakes to avoid at your next luncheon. Mistake 1: Waiting for the right time. There is no right time to start networking and making connections. It’s much easier to say, “I’ve been in X industry for five years, and I love it” vs. “I recently lost my job, and I’m looking for a new opportunity.” Get involved now. Google your industry plus your city and see what comes up. There are many general networking groups out there as well.

Mistake 2: Arriving without an elevator pitch. Be prepared with a three-minute pitch about yourself. Who you are and what you do is a perfect start. Be ready to talk about interesting things you’re working on and what you’d like to do in the future. On the other hand, have a short list of questions for your new acquaintances. What do they like to do? How is their company doing?

Mistake 3: Leaving your wingman at home. If going to an event where you don’t know anyone makes you uncomfortable, go with a friend. It’s even better if your friend is well connected with the group. That person can introduce you to the right people.

Mistake 4: Being negative. Don’t trash the competition, and don’t speak ill of your previous company or co-workers, like Pete. It’s a small world out there, and you never know if the person you’re talking to is Pete’s best friend. Remember, everyone likes a positive person. Those are the kind of people they want to work with and hire.

Mistake 5: Not following up with new connections. So you collected 12 cards? Congrats. Now take a minute to write down what you know about each person on their card and follow up with them via email, hand-written note or online connection via LinkedIn. Send them a short note to say thank you. It will go a long way.

Avoid these networking pitfalls, and you will be off to building a great database.

P.S. Don’t leave your business cards at home—ever.