Did I mention how much I love networking? Oh sure, you know by now I found it daunting at first. I said I didn’t have time. But once I got into it, I discovered it rocks! It is awesome and fabulous… except when it isn’t. Not to end the week on a downer, BUT I have experienced – either directly or through close associates – some great networking disappointments that I must tell you about in the hopes you will learn from these sad, sad networking mistakes.
- Stop networking. OK, here’s the deal: We are all busy. Remember my adage about all of us having the same 24 hours in a day, we simply choose how to spend them. Reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend who is an avid runner and workout enthusiast. I asked him once how he did it? How was he able to find time to get in his workouts, go to work, spend time with his family, be active in the community, etc. He said he calendared it and was militant about protecting his workout time. By making it a priority, he made sure it got done. That’s when I understood. There have been times in my life when I deprioritized networking. Times when I said I was simply too busy to get together. Times when instead of saying “Yes!” I said, “no.” I can honestly tell you now that those times are some of my great disappointments. I think of all of the people I failed to meet or failed to get to know better, of all of the information exchange I missed out on, of all of the opportunities wasted. I try now to never stop networking. I call it Networking for Life. It is a priority for me. It ought to be one for you, too!
- Get beat up. Recall, I mentioned in an earlier post that you’re not going to agree with everything they say. Some of the most coveted meetings could turn out to be busts. People who you expected to open doors for you, may shut them instead. Don’t let it get you down. Chalk it up to “character building” and move on. Keep your positive disposition. On to the next meeting – it is bound to be better!
- Wear your anger and/or residual resentment on your sleeve. This one is especially for the job seekers among you. Please, I beg you, any hangover resentment you have from losing a job, missing an opportunity, feeling like you were cheated out of something… go get a big suitcase, put of all of that residual resentment inside, close the case, lock it, tuck it away under your bed… and never, ever, ever take it out again! They can see it in your eyes. They can sense it from your body language. They can hear it in your voice. They don’t care and it will send them running the other way!
- Say no to someone who requests a networking opportunity. Don’t say “no,” say, “YES!” Be a “Yes-Man!” You will always, always take something positive away from the interaction. You will leave wealthier than when you arrived.
- Fail to follow up. This was our topic on Wednesday. In order to stay top of mind with people, in order to be perceived in a professional manner, in order to rise to the top of your game, you must follow up and follow through! Here are a couple of additional ideas for your follow up:
- Find relevant articles based on generic topics of common interest or specific topics based on your dialogue with that contact(s). Of course, beware the email blast. If you are going to send an article to someone, send it to that person with a short (can be very short) note indicating that you thought he/she would enjoy this article.
- When you make an introduction of one contact to another, personalize that a bit, too. It doesn’t have to be lengthy, but give each person a brief (like one sentence) overview of who the person is and what they do. You might add how to know his/her. You might also include why you thought that connecting them would be a wise idea. Provide email addresses and phone numbers for each. Encourage them to connect. Three to five sentences, max, for each person. Easy. Memorable. Appreciated.
Avoid these mistakes and you are on your way to networking success! Go forth, networkers and, well, network!