4 Networking Mistakes and How to Fix Them

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In my blogs, I often talk about the importance of having a strong social and professional network. Especially when you are looking for a job, knowing people who can help is the best way to land the job of your dreams. I can't possibly overstate the value of using sites like Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter to help further your career goals.
 
That being said, there are still common mistakes that lots of people are making every day. It isn't enough just to build a network, you have to go beyond that and develop networking skills that can help you connect better with others.
 
Here are 4 common networking mistakes and how to fix them:
 
Only talking about yourself – I see this one all the time. I know it's tempting to want to market yourself over and over, but if you are the only thing you talk about, people will get bored. Nothing makes you appear to be a self-centered jerk more than constant self-promotion. Of course you want to talk about yourself sometimes but you can't make it your main topic of interest.
 
How to fix it – Look around and start getting interested in others. Find people who you admire and ask them questions. Listen to other people and participate in discussions. No matter where you are in your career, there is always someone who is farther down the ladder. Find out who they are and where they are at in their career progress. Offer them advice and help. The more you make it not about you, the more real connections you will make.
 
Just wanting a job – Even though I am talking about networking as it relates to your job search, don't think that networking is just something you do when you are out of work. Going to networking events and asking everyone to help you find a job isn't the way to go about it. No one wants to be used and when you are only interested in people just for the help, it's obvious.
 
How to fix it – Understand that networking is a continual process. Focus on helping people, offering your time and talent or just your support. Make the connection be more about what you can give than about what you want. When you help someone, they are much more likely to think of you as a determined worker and will be more willing to give you a referral.
 
Forgetting to say thanks – When someone helps you or you meet with a contact, make sure to thank them for their time. Believe it or not, a simple “thank you” can work wonders. Remember that your goal is to make valuable connections and show yourself as a real professional.
 
How to fix it – Buy some blank cards or some nice stationery. Keep them in your bag so that you can write a quick thank you note immediately after a meeting or get together. It's also a good idea to keep a book of stamps on hand as well. This will make remembering to say thanks easy.
 
Not following up – If you talk with someone and they ask you to send them your resume or to email them later, make sure you follow through. Maybe it's someone you just met at a networking event and you aren't sure if they are sincere, so you don't want to bother them. Whatever the case, if they ask you to get back in touch with them, do it.
 
How to fix it – Understand that meeting someone is the first step in the networking process. If they have opened the door to further contact, it's up to you to make the next step. Even if they don't remember talking to you, they'll be impressed that you remembered.
 
Have you ever made one of these mistakes? What other mistakes do you see often? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
 
By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer for SalesHeadsBlog and Nexxt. Along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.

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