Top 10 Networking Mistakes To Avoid In Your Job Search

Networking has become critical in today’s job markets. Many employers now prefer to use non-traditional means to fill open roles within their organisations. They rely on referrals from current staff members, partner organisations and other referral sources. They trust the referrals from these sources, as they consider them less risky than sourcing talents from traditional job ads. The usual recruiting process takes ample time and resources to scale through the series of shortlisting, interviewing, and notification of candidates at different points of the interview process.

Networking is essential for job seekers; however, it can also be challenging, as it’s relatively easy to make mistakes during the networking process. This post will discuss the mistakes professionals make when networking.


#1. Waiting until you need to network

Networking under desperation does not work well. Start networking today

A job search process can be long and tedious, and it may take several months to land the job you want. It can be tempting to put-off networking until you need a job. However, building your network now is the smartest thing you can do when you don’t need one. Strong relationships with other professionals will open up doors for you when the time comes.

Waiting until the last minute or before you need help to start networking can severely hurt your chances of landing a job, as you will be a lot more under pressure to seek networking rewards that may not come outrightly. Networking under desperation does not work well. Your new network may detect you are all out to feed on them, which can hurt your chances of gaining a deep connection with your network and striking up a good conversation.

Even when you don’t need it, continuous networking ensures you have a wide range of networks you can tap into when you eventually need help. This move can save you from the emotional dilemma and the untold pressures you encounter when you desperately need a job.

Therefore, ensure you grow your network daily by meeting and connecting with professionals and mentors in your field who might be able to hear you out when you eventually need someone to talk to. This activity affords you some time to understand each other before actually reaching out for assistance. You can continually grow your network by:

  • Attending networking events in your locality
  • Expanding your network on LinkedIn and Twitter
  • Joining relevant groups — both online and locally
  • Following influential and notable professionals in your industry


#2. Asking for a job outrightly

Networking is a process —it takes time to establish trust and build rapport

After a long job search, it might be tempting to put all your requests before a connection you just met and make demands outrightly. Do not make this mistake — build trust and rapport with the person and get to know each other first by being genuinely interested in learning about their work. Getting useful information from your new network is your primary goal.

You don’t want to be perceived as needy and desperate. Asking for favours on your first meeting is not ideal, as most professionals are unlikely to do any favours for someone or offer assistance to someone they just met and barely know. Networking with a new person is similar to developing a romantic relationship — it takes time to establish trust and build rapport.

#3. Not researching the potential network

Conduct sufficient research on your network before the meeting

In today’s digital world, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re conducting your research before meeting with someone. Whether online or in-person, knowing as much as you can about the person you meet with will help the conversation flow more naturally and give you a better understanding of their interests.

Therefore, ensure you conduct enough research on your network before meeting with them. There are plenty of resources out there, including LinkedIn, that can provide you with information about your network’s interests, career path, and work history.


#4. Not having clarity of goals

Define and be clear about your career goals

Networking can be a great way to meet professionals in your field and learn about job openings. However, if you are unsure about what you want, making the most of these meetings can be challenging. To ensure you are adequately prepared for your networking meeting:

  1. Be clear about your career goals
  2. Determine the aim of the meeting — what would you like to take out of the meeting
  3. Ask the right questions — be prepared to ask questions that show your genuine interest in the person and their work.

Knowing what you hope to gain from the meeting will help you make the most of your time with the interviewer. By having a specific goal, you can better focus your questions and come away with the information you need.


#5. Arriving late for the networking meeting

Don’t ruin all your hard work by arriving late for the meeting

Networking is an essential part of any job hunt, and first impressions last longer, and sometimes there is no other opportunity to make a second impression.

Arriving late for a networking interview might reduce your chances of landing a job even though the connection is ready to help you. You have done the most tedious part of the process by connecting with the right person and organising an interview — don’t ruin all your hard work by arriving late for the meeting.

Try to get to the meeting location at least 5–10 minutes early so you can compose yourself and avoid any last-minute rush. We know life gets in the way, and the unexpected may happen; ensure you notify your network if you are running late.


#6. Not following up after a networking meeting

Keep your network alive by staying in touch

If you are like most people, the thought of networking makes your palms sweat and your heart race. It’s difficult enough to put yourself out there and make small talk with strangers, let alone create a lasting impression that could lead to a job opportunity. A networking chat doesn’t have to end the minute the meeting ends. Keep your network alive by staying in touch with your network via social media and other channels.


#7. Neglecting personal branding

Know your strengths and put your best foot forward

Before your next networking meeting, make sure you have your personal branding clearly defined. That means having a clear understanding of what makes you unique and different. Knowing how to communicate your strengths confidently will help you make the most of those valuable face-to-face interactions. So take some time to think about what makes you stand out from the crowd, and practice sharing your story in an engaging way. By putting your best foot forward, you’ll be sure to make a great impression on your network.


#8. Not meeting enough people

The more people you have in your network, the merrier, and the higher your chances of landing a job

The goal of networking is to get the results you want. It can be tempting to go to sleep after one successful networking meeting. While it’s completely okay to feel fulfilled and satisfied after a networking meeting, you want to keep going.

Do not get your foot off the pedal. When it comes to networking, the more people you have in your network, the merrier, and the higher your chances of landing a job.

Therefore, I encourage you to meet as many people as possible to grow your network and ultimately improve your chances of landing your dream role.


#9. No “thank you” note

Show appreciation

Networking can be a great way to meet new people and find jobs. But what do you do after the meeting?

Thanking your networking contacts shows that you appreciate their time and can help keep you in mind for future opportunities.

In addition, everyone is busy, and such a gesture should be appreciated with a simple thank you note. This act will go a long way to let your contact feel valued. Ensure you do the following after your networking meeting:

1. Send a thank-you note within 24 hours of having the meeting.

2. Personalise it, thanking the person for their time and advice.

3. Mention something specific that was discussed in the meeting.

4. Keep it short and sweet.


#10. Not dressing the part

Remember to dress the part — first impressions matter.

Networking meetings are an excellent opportunity to connect with people in your industry. You want to make a good impression, so it’s essential to dress well.

It’s easy to get over-prepared for the questions you wish to ask your connection, yet neglecting an essential part of the meeting — dressing up for success.

Dressing for success is vital in the professional world. It’s a chance for you to make a good impression on potential employers, so it’s essential to look your best. Fortunately, dressing well doesn’t have to be expensive — a business casual outfit should work.


Final Summary

In today’s competitive job market, it’s more important than ever to build your professional network. A strong network can help you find jobs before they are even posted, as well as connect you with valuable contacts who can help you advance your career. Networking can help you find a new opportunity or provide an introduction for someone who could potentially hire you.

Networking also allows you to build relationships with people who may be able to help you in your search, or at the very least, put you in touch with someone who can. To make the most of your networking opportunities, it is crucial to avoid these common networking mistakes as you prepare for your next networking meeting.

Good luck!

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