I will never forget the first time I networked my way into an opportunity. I had recently moved to Miami, Florida for college and I wasn’t having any luck finding a job. The first day of class my new professor mentioned that he held a position at the school’s research center and that he oversaw student research assistants. After class I informed my professor that I was interested in the position and I set up a time to meet with him and the director of the research center. One week later I had a job. 

I loved that job and most students on campus didn’t even know it existed because like most positions, it was not advertised.

I became a firm believer in the power of networking. Such a believer that the last position I held before resigning to run My Fab Finance full-time, was also secured through networking. I had never heard of the organization, however someone in my network recommended me for the position.

I could go on and on about how networking has served me but that is not what you came here for right?

As someone who is frequently in a position to connect individuals with meaningful contacts through my own influential circle, there are a few mistakes that I have observed over the past few years.

Here are a few networking mistakes to avoid:

      1. Underestimating contacts

How many times have you met someone and their body language and lack of conversation indicates that they are not interested in what you have to say? It’s rude and it is obvious when you are doing it. Never underestimate the people you meet because you never know who you are talking to. It’s a good practice in general to treat everyone with importance. Afterall, everyone is important to someone.

          1. Talking About Yourself TOO Much

A surefire way to turn people off is to talk about yourself too much. Of course the point of networking is getting to know each other to determine how you can benefit each other down the line. But it is not necessary to drop your life story during the first conversation. Conversational narcissism can signal a lack of humility and people don’t really like to help people who aren’t humble.

Not sure how to stop being so chatty? Check out this helpful video

            1. Not Getting Contact Information

Most people panic about not having business cards at industry events and mixers. Let’s be honest, what percentage of people actually follow up? Two years ago I attended a conference and forgot  my business cards at home. It was actually perfect because I made sure I got the card of everyone that I wanted to remain connected with and I emailed them. Obtain the contact information for the people that you want to connect with and assume that the follow-up responsibility lies with you.

If you are unsure of what to say or how to follow up, check out the Building Your Boss Network Guide where we discuss acceptable follow-up time and what to mention in your message

              1. Not Networking at All

There are a few people who would not be able to tell you the last time they networked.  These same people probably wouldn’t be able to tell you the last time they were connected to an opportunity. There are several reasons people fail to network such as a lack of time or social awkwardness, but this is a costly mistake. You can’t afford not to network.  Failure to network dramatically reduces your circle of influence which directly impacts your opportunities.

I’d love to hear your stories. What was the last opportunity you secured through networking?