by Karen Kodzik
In any given week I may network with hundreds of job seekers and professionals in career transition. I see various levels of networking skills and savvy—as well mistakes. Are you guilty of any of these networking no-nos?
1. No eye contact. Have you ever been in a conversation with someone at a networking event and they are constantly looking over your shoulder for the next person? It doesn’t make the contact or conversation seem genuine or authentic. And the likelihood of you wanting to continue a business relationship with that person is slim to none.
2. One-way conversations. People practice so hard to master their elevator speech that they forget to practice general conversation and active listening skills. There couldn’t be a bigger turnoff than a one-way conversation where the other person does all the talking. Good networking is give and take, a two-way street.
3. No business card. The biggest clue that someone is new to networking is when they don’t have a card to exchange so that the conversation can continue beyond the initial meeting. The initial conversation hopefully leads to a stronger business relationship and exchanging contact information encourages that process.
4. No respect for time. I see this mostly with people who are unemployed. They forget that even though they have a lot of open time, the person they are networking with may not. It’s rude to monopolize a person’s time, and might make them less likely to want to give you any time in the future.
5. Networking too soon. Too often I see people jump into networking before they are clear about their objective, their networking skills are sharp, or they understand how to make the most out of networking conversations. Jumping in too soon can waste a good networking opportunity—or worse—it can make you have to go back and do damage control.
Remember, networking isn’t about asking for a job. It is about fostering a professional relationship. Good luck!
Karen Kodzik, a career management consultant and founder of Cultivating Careers, holds a Master’s degree with an emphasis in Career Development and has worked with professionals in transition for over 13 years. She has worked inside of Fortune 500 companies, a global consulting firm, higher education, and a non-profit organization. She has coached and consulted various levels of professionals across industries throughout the country.