Posted by: careerworks | November 9, 2010

Avoiding Networking Blunders

You’ll hear the same advise from just about everyone; that getting out there is important, but doing it badly can do more harm than good.

The reason we need to network is to exchange information or ideas; specifically: “the exchange and cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business,” according to Merriam-Webster.

The key part of the definition is the word “exchange.” Too often people think networking means you just harass people until they give you a job or help you make a connection. But browbeating your LinkedIn connections into getting you a job, won’t get you very far. “Don’t monopolize the conversation [by talking] about your career needs,” stressed Thom Singer, author of “The ABC’s of Networking.” Instead, find out what your contact needs, Singer added. “You might know the person who can help them solve their biggest challenge, but if you are not asking questions, and listening to their answers, you will not even know you can help.”

Networking is all about helping each other.

For those networking novices out there who need a bit of help, here are six networking no-nos from hiring managers, human resource pros and people who are often hit up by net-workers.

1. Don’t be an amateur
Networking is a bit more laid back than an actual job interview, but that doesn’t mean you should leave professionalism at the door. People often complain that the job seeker doesn’t take the time to prepare enough. They come in asking for a job rather than being oriented in finding out what the other persons challenges are. It’s not about you; it’s about them.

2. The fake informational interview
An informational interview is one of the greatest networking tools. It helps open doors and also helps you figure out if a job, a company or an industry is right for you.

The key to such an informational interview is to make it seem like you’re not looking for a particular job, but you’re just doing some exploratory research and want to sit down with a hiring manager or a contact to find out what a person in a particular position does and knows.

But sometimes job seekers want to pull a fast one, that is to say they are only interested in themselves and not the other person; and that’s a big no-no.

Most employers are open to informational interviews and they are open to job interviews. Just be honest. The bait and switch game is just annoying.

3. The two-timer
Networking is about making a connection with one person at a time, not 100 people. How do you expect to build a relationship with someone and get her to help you if she thinks you see her as just one person on a long list of contacts?

Not every person out there is a potential networking source, even though social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter make us think so.
LinkedIn and other social media tools are not like a phone book. You wouldn’t take all the phone books from Los Angeles Country and tell people you have 10 million people in your network ‘hey, you have their phone numbers, you could call any of them. Linking to strangers makes your social network no better than a phone book.

4. Ingrates don’t rate
There’s nothing worse than taking your connections for granted. The one thing people hate is job seekers who don’t say thank you. They give freely of their time, knowledge, information, contacts, etc., and there are people who don’t call or write to say thank you. It’s also incumbent on the person asking the favor to follow-up. Don’t just connect with people when you need a favor or help. You can afford the time and expense to let people who have spent their time and shared their knowledge with you to say thanks and let them know how their information helped you. Please don’t wait to contact them until you need their help again. Sadly this happens all to often.
She also doesn’t like it when she offers help and never hears from the person, that is until they need help, again.

5. No sob stories
Many of us are desperate to find work in this economy, so it’s totally understandable if your personal and financial lives are in turmoil.
That said, don’t dump this on your networking contacts, and don’t tweet or Facebook that stuff either.

It’s not that people won’t be understanding or sympathetic, but human nature makes us gravitate to people who seem to have things together and don’t seem hopeless.

6. Beware stalking
There’s this feeling out there that you should do just about anything to get your foot in the door, but that doesn’t mean you should ambush people in public, at their office, or on the Web.  Same goes for cyberspace.
There are lots of people on Twitter publicly asking other tweeters if they can send them a resume, or asking them to connect them to someone they know.
This is why more people are hiding their connections on LinkedIn from public view. Nobody wants a bunch of people hitting them up for jobs or job leads.

Be professional, polite, and sincere.

Some content from Eve Tahmincioglu contributor


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