Regardless of the function or industry, nearly every job requires some type of networking to be successful. A firm cannot prosper until it reaches the proper people, regardless of how talented the entrepreneur is or how in-demand his or her products are. This also applies to job searches, as successful people often have strong personal and professional networks, and vice versa. Even though networking, both face-to-face and online, has become an essential part of the job search process, some job seekers continue to get it wrong. Of course, some people’s products or services are in such high demand that they will create connections regardless of what they do. However, networking takes time and effort for most of us, and understanding how beneficial relationships are established and why they are vital will increase job seekers’ prospects of reaching career success.
Let’s take a look at a few networking blunders that job searchers frequently make and how they can harm their chances.
1. The Best-Seller
The purpose of networking should be to form long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with people who share common interests. These connections can then be used to gain employment, referrals, recommendations, advice, or mentoring. Certainly, networking necessitates some self-promotion; otherwise, determining who has similar backgrounds and interests would be practically impossible. Unfortunately, some people perceive networking as an opportunity to over-promote themselves, giving everyone they meet the “hard sell.” These hard sellers’ goal is to impress as many people as possible by talking about themselves as much as possible. This frequently has the reverse effect of what they intended, since many people are turned off by braggarts who show little concern in others.
While hard sellers will network with anyone who would listen to them talk about their favorite subject (themselves), self-servants will only network with individuals who they believe will assist them develop their professions. They may also prove to be difficult sellers once they have identified a target. However, if self-serving people discover that the person they’re conversing with lacks the professional clout they expected, they won’t waste another second before abruptly quitting the conversation and looking for someone with the credentials they need to advance their careers.
3. The Difficult Communicator
Communication is the foundation of practically every work, and it is uncommon to find a successful person who lacks communication skills. As a result, it is critical to display great communication skills from the initial meeting while networking with individuals who might help establish or enhance one’s career. Job candidates who use poor language, say too much or too little, appear socially awkward or hesitant to answer inquiries about their background may raise worries about their capacity to communicate with coworkers, bosses, or clients once employed. While introverts may struggle with socializing, it is simply the first of many obstacles they must overcome during the job search process.
4. The Negative First Impression
As the saying goes, first impressions last, and generating a terrible first impression while networking with well-connected business leaders can be difficult to overcome. Many people assess others based on their looks, whether it’s right or wrong, and job searchers who attend networking events dressed sloppily or inappropriately are beginning off on the wrong foot. Attire and grooming practices, as well as the ability to provide a decent handshake and personal introduction, are frequently considered. Furthermore, if alcohol is offered, overindulgence might be interpreted as a red flag and can quickly destroy any job offer. Job searchers should always be aware of how they are seen by individuals with whom they desire to establish long-term professional ties.
5. Failure to Follow Through
Those that are in a position to assist others with their job or business goals are often willing to meet at a later date or discuss over the phone, and will close their initial meeting with a simple “call me.” Job seekers should view this as a test to determine whether or not they can follow instructions and are worth the effort. Those who fail to follow up, call at the wrong time, or simply forget to call demonstrate a lack of dependability, and suggesting them for employment becomes risky if they demonstrate similar unreliability at work. Also, thanking those that go out of their way to assist is usually a nice practice, whilst declining to acknowledge their efforts may appear selfish or uncaring.
Because networking is frequently the initial stage in the job search process, it should be approached with the same zeal and professionalism as job interviews or work functions. Networking should also be considered a two-way street. Each partner must be willing to assist the other, and today’s job seeker could be tomorrow’s employer or mentor. Networking, like a successful job, does not happen quickly and involves an investment of time. Those that approach it professionally, courteously, selflessly, and persistently will finally see great outcomes.