Establishing relationships with professionals you wouldn’t normally have access to on a social level hasn’t always been easy. Enter networking events. Everyone wants to have the best opportunities available and these events allow for this. As straightforward as they can be, however, there are quite a few ways to leave a poor first impression with new contacts. Here are a few networking mistakes to avoid:
Beware of “The Social Butterfly Effect”
Your main objective at a networking event is to connect with professionals from different backgrounds to get a better understanding of what they do and how you can, in turn, build your own brand for the better. While it’s fantastic to try and talk to many different people, you want to make sure that you do some research before the event. Narrow down some specific targets who you can share some face time with. Remember, it’s not about the quantity of conversations you have, but the quality of the conversations being had.
Sidestep being someone else’s “stepping stone”
Some folks at networking events come on a little stronger than others. They’ll overwhelm you with their catalog of accomplishments and bombard you with multiple connections on different social networking platforms. This can be perfectly fine as long as there’s an understanding that the connection is beneficial for both parties. You do not want to be someone’s else stepping stone into a career opportunity without receiving any sort of value in return. It may sound selfish, but make sure that you assess what value each person you are meeting might have to you. Likewise, you should be willing to reciprocate and return a favor, when needed.
Don’t overwhelm someone with your social media footprint
The age of technology can both help and hurt your cause. When networking with possible employers or other professionals, be selective with the platforms you decide to share with them. For example, your e-mail, a copy of your resume, a business card and, if you have one, your LinkedIn should be it. Unless you’re specifically applying for or looking for an opportunity that directly correlates with social media, refrain from giving them any of your other accounts (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.) until you have established a stronger relationship. Not only are you leaving yourself out there to be thoroughly scrutinized, but you also risk the fact of flooding their network with your activity.
Good things don’t really come to those who wait
You’ve gone to a few networking events. You’ve met a with a couple of interesting people. You’ve received some business cards and also distributed a few of your own. You’re done, right? Think again. If you want to leverage these new connections, you need to follow up before you are forgotten. Within 24-36 hours, send them an e-mail or LinkedIn request with a message thanking them for their time. In this note, make sure to refer to specific things / anecdotes you spoke about in person. And if the connection works, stay relevant. Contact them frequently, even if it’s just to check in, that way it doesn’t appear like you’re only reaching out when you need something. You’ll also be fresh in their heads when an opportunity that suits you may pop up on their end.