We all should know by now that networking is an important way to assist you in finding job leads, inside sources, and actual positions within a company. Because we know it to be so important, we may be tempted to take short cuts or wrong turns in order to get to what we want in this “relationship.” There are right ways and wrong ways to network, and even some that may be in the grey area; hopefully some of these tips may help clear up some areas to avoid in the future.
When it comes to meeting the contacts of others, it is always best to have that friend do the introductions. That may not always be an available option, in which case, you can easily tell the contact that your mutual friend suggested you to call. However, be sure that is what has really happened. Did your friend actually suggest you to call them, or are you just throwing that name out because you know there is a relationship there? It is important to act and speak honestly in all matters or it can come back to haunt you later. If the contact called your mutual friend, would they indeed vouch for you? If not, you should not name drop in any way that implies a false statement.
Too much too soon is a no-no. If you are reaching out to a contact, do not go too far in your initial contact. Contact them, reference those whom you have in common, and ask them if they have any available time to meet with you in the future. Some people want to jump the gun and make plans all in one fail swoop – “Hey, I was told to contact you by Jefferson, and I was wondering if we could meet to discuss the open position. How about we meet for lunch next Thursday at Ruby Tuesday’s?” Do not jump into setting meeting dates and times initially, that is quite presumptuous.
Remember, networking should always be treated as a two-way relationship, not a one-way street for you alone. If you have set up a meeting with a contact, make sure the meeting is not all about you. Establish a common ground, and see what you all can do to help each other. What do you have that can benefit him? Do not sit down at a lunch meeting and plop your resume on the table for him to take a look at; that is too far too soon again. You can discuss your skills and experience, but keep it verbal, and not just you trying to get your resume into his hands.
If you have reached out to someone and they have agreed to meet with you for coffee or a meal, be sure you do two things: first, meet them close to their side of town, and second, pay for their meal. If there is a distance between you do not seek to meet half way; remember, they are doing you the favor, so inconvenience them as little as possible. Meeting close to their location and paying the tab shows that you appreciate the time they are taking out of their busy schedule to meet with you.
These are just some of the often forgotten points of networking etiquette, and maybe they can help you think of other areas you have failed to consider before. If so, please share by posting a comment below.