If you’ve done any networking at all, you know when a connection has gone sideways. Whether it’s a lack of connection or understanding, bad chemistry, or even just bad manners, there are a lot of reasons that this could happen, but if you want to connect with others, find a new position, or even find your “tribe,” networking is a crucial first step.
Fortunately, there are a lot of places to learn how to network correctly. Unfortunately, it’s a lot harder to find out what you may be doing wrong when connecting with potential employers and colleagues. So, in this blog post we’ll explore how to absolutely get your networking wrong – and hopefully help you avoid common missteps along the way.
Don’t bother with business cards or contact information.
If you want to be forgettable, don’t bother sharing your contact information. Skip business cards when in-person, and don’t bother with sharing your Linkedin profile through virtual meetings or connection requests. Instead, rely on the other person to remember your name and find you online later. They’re definitely not busy and are anxious to keep notes about how to find you.
Talk only about yourself.
If you want to turn people off, talk exclusively about yourself and your accomplishments. After all, isn’t the point to tell someone else how great you are? Also, make sure you aren’t asking questions or showing interest in other people’s experiences or expertise.
Show up unprepared.
If you want to appear unprofessional, don’t bother researching the event or the people you’ll be meeting with. Just show up and wing it. It probably won’t help you connect with people faster, and they’ll understand that you’re busy, won’t they?
Be overly aggressive.
The best way to make people uncomfortable is to be overly aggressive in your approach. Don’t respect personal space or boundaries, and push your agenda relentlessly. Even as the conversation shifts to new topics, make sure you pull it back to talking about you and what you need.
Don’t follow up.
If you want to waste your time and effort, don’t bother following up with the people you meet. Just meet them and wait for them to reach out to you. Don’t send thank-you notes or emails, and don’t make any effort to stay in touch or build relationships. (Sidenote: this also works well within the interview process. If they really want to talk to you they’ll find you, so just keep to yourself and wait until they learn how to prioritize you more.)
Did these tips feel uncomfortable to read? Now imagine how uncomfortable they would be to actually live through if you met someone who networked in this way! Not only would your networking be ineffective, but even if you’re inadvertently making some (or all!) of these moves, you could be earning a reputation as a bad connection without you even knowing it.
Bottom line: remember that networking is—at its core—the beginning of a relationship, and balance is key. Set out to find out as much as you can about the other person, and connect the dots where they matter or match. Learn a little bit about the person you’re about to meet with—that may mean doing a little research—and let them know that their time and their presence matter. Then, if there’s still no connection in the end, you can at least add someone new into your circle, and at the very least you haven’t burned any bridges along the way.