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5 worst networking mistakes

5 worst networking mistakes

networkingEveryone tries to network, but few people do it well, often making the same basic mistakes.

Here’s what not to do when you’re trying to expand or leverage your network:

If you make a bad mistake on the job search, what’s the worst that can happen? You might not get the job, and as frustrating as that is, sometimes it’s just not meant to happen. If you really fumble the ball and you don’t get hired, maybe those people didn’t deserve you.

People who don’t understand networking routinely throw their friends and trusted colleagues under the bus, and even when it’s inadvertent, that kind of thing stings. Unfortunate networking behaviors can damage your relationships or destroy them altogether.

So how do you keep your networking nose clean? If you avoid these Five Worst Networking Mistakes, you’ll be ahead of the game.


Networking is a slow and patient activity, like gardening. When you network, you plant seeds, and over time you water them and grow them. You’re cultivating relationships and learning about people and their perspectives.

Networking is a personal growth activity and a way to give back.

When you are starting the relationship with any new contact don’t jump right in with “here is what I have for you”. This is a mistake as you need to work on what they need to help their business and then try to help them if you can. You cannot go out of your way and do things you don’t know how to do but if you have an existing ability or contact to help them that is where you start.

If anyone offers help to you or comments on what could help you, listen, then see if that will help you, even if it does not help you pretend that it does and be happy for the networking time and any advice that you are offered. Don’t push people to extend themselves for you when you have little or no social capital invested with them.


Some people network with anyone, tossing out business cards like confetti. Networking isn’t a numbers game. Find someone you can help, determine whether they might (someday) be able to help you, and then approach them on your own terms.

Always select the people you want to network with. And keep your list relatively small, because there is no way to build meaningful connections with dozens or hundreds of people.


If your company provides financial services, establishing a connection with Warren Buffett would be great. Or say you need seed capital; hooking up with Mark Cuban would be awesome. Awesome and almost impossible.

The best connections are mutually beneficial. What can you offer Buffett or Cuban? Not much. You may desperately want to connect with the top people in your industry, but the right to connect is not based on want or need. You must earn the right to connect. Find people who can benefit from your knowledge and insight or your connections.

The “status” level of your connections is irrelevant. All that matters is whether you can help each other reach your goals


A fundamental misconception about networking is that it’s appropriate to call or write to perfect strangers and ask them to do things for you

You cannot grab a name from social media or get a stack of business cards from a leads group and start cold calling them and ask for connections or help with building your business clientele.

That’s not networking. That’s another abuse of the social frame for commercial purposes. Talk to your friends instead, and see who they know. Go to networking events and talk to the people, learn their needs and build your name with them and opportunities will present themselves. Step out there. Don’t call people you don’t know and ask them to go out of their way for you.

It wouldn’t be good judgment on their part if they did. What does “vouch for” mean, anyway? It means that you can speak for someone. How can a stranger speak for you?


Each person is valuable as an individual. The worst thing a networker can do is to treat another person like a conduit, a pass-through or a means to an end. It feels bad when people do that to you.

What matters in networking and in the workplace is energy. If the energy between you and another person is good energy, you might become friends. That’s when the concrete stuff – introductions, job leads and favors – will come in. Don’t rush the transaction.


It drives me crazy that people take the time to network, go to events, spend money and talk to people they don’t know in the name of “Networking” and then leave the event and do nothing but schedule the next event. If you talk to people (if your not you are in the wrong place by the way) and they need something or your conversations and group discussions start to show a mutual interest you need to act on it. Dont wear a person out but take the next step to explore a business relationship or maybe help them in some way. This is what it is all about so just DO IT.

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