Four of the Biggest Networking Mistakes

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By now, we all know that spending time building a professional network is extremely important. It can be the key to finding a new job and growing in your career. For most people, the easiest way to create a strong network is to connect with other professionals on sites like Nexxt and LinkedIn.


As you begin networking, you'll find that there are many different ways to contact people you'd like to get to know. Since the communication happens online, there is often a disconnect between how you would communicate face to face and how you express yourself in a text-based format. This fundamental difference can lead to making small mistakes that can hinder your success. Here are four of the biggest networking mistakes and how to avoid them:


  1. Networking in fits and spurts. Once you begin networking, you have to make a commitment to keep at it. If you only network for a couple of weeks and then stop for a month, you aren't going to make much progress. In order to get to know others and establish yourself as part of the community, you'll have to communicate on a regular basis. To do this, set aside a certain amount of time each week specifically for networking. If you start out strong and then leave, others will have a hard time taking you seriously. It's better to start slow and continue building.
  2. Not doing your research before you post. Before you share a news story or repeat something you heard someone else say, be sure to check your facts. It only takes a few moments and it can save you a great deal of embarrassment. For example, I can't tell you how many people have shared news articles from a parody site like “The Onion” as if they were factual. The fake headlines are specifically designed to be provocative and look like a legitimate news story, which is what makes it funny. The writers are so good that many people take them seriously and then feel silly once they discover that the source is a humor website. So, check the source and find out if it's true before you share.
  3. Focusing only on your needs. No one likes a friend who is only focused on themselves. This is especially true with networking. You can't just look for people to help you and not offer anything in return. Instead, start by listening and looking for ways that you can use your contacts to help other people who are also trying to build their careers. No matter where you are in your career, there's going to be someone who is just starting out or who could benefit from your help. Friendships are based on mutual concern and support and Internet-based friendships are no different.
  4. Being rude. There is no excuse for being rude on the Internet. For some reason, many people change into the worst versions of themselves when they have a keyboard in front of them. I'm not sure why that is, but it's sort of like how people change when they are behind the wheel of a car. Someone who is typically polite and thoughtful can change into an aggressive, verbally abusive jerk once someone cuts them off in traffic. They scream things that wouldn't be appropriate in any other situation. If they were in a grocery store and someone was in their way, they wouldn't yell at them and say something like “I hope you die a gruesome death, you jerk! Who let you even come to this store. I wish your children were dismembered in front of you!” However, in a car, this behavior seems acceptable. Online, some people behave the same way they do when they are driving and it's a shame. Insulting others, talking bad about people and just being rude in general is a good way to alienate your friends and make yourself look like a jerk. When you're networking, avoid being negative and expressing controversial views or making threatening comments about people you don't agree with. Be professional in everything you do.


Networking isn't hard, but it does take a commitment of time and focus to do it properly. Remember that you are a professional and treat others that way as well. Good luck and have fun networking.


What other mistakes do you think many people make? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


Image Source: MorgueFile


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  • Melissa Kennedy
    Melissa Kennedy
    Wow! Everyone has such great ideas. @JoAnn, you're right, we tend to look at others as competition instead of helping each other. @Ellen, I understand what you mean. Maybe you could try only participating  in discussion that you are interested in. That way, you'll maximize your networking time and share your knowledge at the same time. @Tony, keeping notes on contacts is such a great idea. Thanks for sharing it! Depending on the email client you use, you can keep notes right in your contact list. With Gmail, I can add numbers, email accounts, social media accounts and notes about what their partner's name is, do they have children, pets and so on. It's great information to have so that you can make your communication more personal and not forget the details.@Lorraine, I think we are all guilty of that at some point. I have trouble keeping my networking going as well. See, it's not just you. What helps me is setting aside an hour or two every couple of days to focus on it. I know it's hard, but stay with it!@Paula, I understand your point. It's sometimes hard to transition from face to face communication to electronic. If your employees are wasting time using social media, maybe there is a way to harness their interest and use it to further your company's goals. More and more companies have started their own Facebook pages, Tumblrs and so on. Take a look at Zappos, they require their employees to be active with social networking. Maybe some of their ideas will work for you, allowing you to use what your employees are already doing to market your business.
  • Sena S
    Sena S
    Good common sense.
  •  Linda J. K
    Linda J. K
    This article was very well written and helpful. Thank you. Blessings!!!
  • Leelamma A
    Leelamma A
    Your advice is absolutely correct. people forget that they are very visible when they sit in front of the computer.
  • JoAnn J
    JoAnn J
    I appreciate this information.  It is well stated and very true.  In this desperate time people tend to get defensive and over-competetive.  Working together and supporting each other we can accomplish so much more, as well as becoming happier and healthier as we proceed.
  • Ellen W S
    Ellen W S
    Ms. Kennedy has very good points here. What I find to be most difficult is interacting within a post discussion that I have no interest or knowledge in. Can it not be a negative if you are continually asking "What? Why do you think that is worth posting about?" or "What are you talking about? It appears you have a specific vocabulary that goes with this subject and I do not have the word key." After repetitive posts like that, it would seem like I would be considered either rude or ignorant [which I guess I am]. My point here is that I have stopped networking because I don't have the time to explore a new subject matter daily.
  • Ward J
    Ward J
    Worhtless - you're stating the obvious.  Adds no value.
  • Sunny C
    Sunny C
    This is so true, I agree, common courtesy is the best policy!
  • Juliano M
    Juliano M
    Great article Melissa!Several people does not take care when they read an article or email and analyze it completely before forwarding it to others...Regards,Juliano
  • Andy M
    Andy M
    Great thoughts, Melissa!  Can you talk about point #1 in terms of making a career transition and what the networking should look like and how you've seen it work best?Thanks again for a great post. Andy
  • Michelle W
    Michelle W
    Very nicely done! I really enjoyed the article and found it most helpful. Thank you
  • Kijn N. S
    Kijn N. S
    Excellent information that all of us would do well to remember. . .Now, get outta my lane . . . ¿Can't you see . . . the road belongs to me, me, me?
  • Tony W
    Tony W
    Good points in the article. Networking is so awkward for most people. It's somewhere between dating and selling, both activities are uncomfortable for most people regardless of age. Since networking is about building relationship and trust, the point you make Melissa about consistency and being selfish is spot on. If you're only going to contact people when you need something, it's pretty one-sided and people become distrustful. Additionally, doing homework also includes keeping notes about people in your network such as where you met them, what are their interest, what is their background, etc. We have the greatest contact management tools in the history of people-kind...smartphones! Keeping in contact may simply involving sending them an article or a comment or a tip about something you recall they are interested in. You're not asking for anything. You're showing that person you are thinking of them. That's what builds relationships. I share this and other career insight with young professionals through talks and my book, "mooove ahead! of the corporate herd". All proceeds go to charities (kid, pets, cancer).
  • Karen S
    Karen S
    I have not been net working, but i have just read i will keep in mind if i start net-working in the furture
  • Theresia H
    Theresia H
    This is very helpful information. I don't know much about networking but I am learning.
  • Maritza A
    Maritza A
    Thank you
  • Esther A
    Esther A
    I think everything said in the document is true. Some people act differently in certain situations that they ought not to, in view of the fact  of being polite and well mannered; or I would say being professional when it comes to business. I think we all have to treat others in a nice way with respect that  we  would like to be treated.
  • Stephen S
    Stephen S
    Very good advice here. Networking, as with every other component in a job search, requires comittment and professionalism. New job seekers and "old pros" alike should remember that.
  • Tony G
    Tony G
    Good article
  • Heidi Marie G
    Heidi Marie G
    I have not done any networking yet. Your tips on networking are important things to keep in mind.  Thanks.
  • Ed T
    Ed T
    Melissa, your comment needs to address the fact the future will have us use the entire social network to find a job.
  • Clayton K
    Clayton K
    A good article with some excellent points. I am going to have to make a rigorous effort to continue to network on a continuous basis as opposed to the fits and starts method I currently use. Point four should just be common sense, but for some, that common sense goes out the window and that is a shame.
  • Charles S
    Charles S
    The article covering four networking errors posted by Melissa Kennedy is most poignant.  On one hand, I'm aware of the importance of networking, having skills of my own to offer in my chosen field;  I nonetheless when advised of a former colleague's intent to connect, I fear the error of obtrusive redundancy, therefore I take no action.  Any thoughts are most gratefully appreciated.
  • Melvin E
    Melvin E
    Good comments Melissa, I like the idea of consistency in our networking efforts.  Also, we should not overlook any source or contact as we network.  Also, good point about having something to offer vs. just taking for self.
  • Lorraine L
    Lorraine L
    I am so guilty of the fits and spurts networking.  I'm a private cna/caregiver, trying to get my shows going on my jewelry, plus work. I am so tired by the time my dayoff comes around.Not a very good multitasker.Need suggestions

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