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5 Business Networking Sins To Avoid

Posted: October 9, 2012

Great business networking is a must for working women in India.  Here are 5 business networking mistakes you should definitely avoid! 

By Tanvi Gautam

You have heard it before. Your network is your net worth. Are you doing enough to raise its value and yours alongside?

Whether it is securing a promotion, a job with a new organization or even a move into a new industry, knowing the right people can provide opportunities that would otherwise not exist. And that is why networking is such a big deal. (Read, 10 Tips for Successful Business Networking

Unfortunately, there are some common business networking mistakes we all make when trying to create our professional network:

Business networking mistake 1: Many working women aim too low

One of the primary objectives of your networking efforts should be to develop relationships with individuals in positions of power. It’s great to meet a credit analyst at a bank in your city — but a relationship with the department manager offers even more potential down the road. 

Many women (and men, too) aim too low, telling themselves things like “He/she would have no interest in getting to know me” and “I’m not important enough.” Be confident and dream big — take advantage of every opportunity that you have to get to know the movers and shakers in your industry.

Asking an interesting question, making a comment that shows that you know what you are talking about is a good way to start. Sharing articles or other information that might be relevant to the senior person is another way since a lot of them are often drowning under information overload.

Business networking mistake 2: Not committing for the “long haul”

Many women have the wrong expectations when it comes to networking. They often expect immediate results — and when nothing happens, they get discouraged and give up. It’s important to understand that the relationships you develop through your networking efforts may take months or even years to “pay off” in the form of job opportunities or career advancement. Don’t approach this process with a “what’s in it for me?” mentality — instead, focus on getting to know other professionals and helping them out whenever you can. The effort you put into networking will come back to benefit you… but you have to be patient! It should be ‘net’working not ‘need’ working. Get into a regular rhythm starting today. 

Business networking mistake 3: Not building a professional network online

Social networking sites like LinkedIn are an important part of your approach to networking. LinkedIn and similar sites offer opportunities to connect with professionals in your industry that you may never encounter in “real life.” These connections can become extremely valuable — but if you don’t pursue networking online, you’ll never discover them. Twitter is a great opportunity to learn vicariously from people you admire and contribute to a conversation that then builds a relationship. (Read, Getting Started on LinkedIn) (Bonus link: Eight Tips for Networking on Twitter) 

Business networking mistake 4: Sticking to what’s comfortable

It’s easy to fall into a networking rut. Once you’ve established a comfort level with a group of professionals, it’s tempting to spend your time exclusively with them, instead of consistently expanding your network. It is important that you continue to spend time nurturing the relationships you have begun, but you should make it a goal to continue to grow your circle as well. Set a concrete goal — for some of you, meeting and having a conversation with 2 new contacts each week may be reasonable, while for others meeting a new person each month is more realistic. Set a goal that is realistic for you — but that also forces you out of your comfort zone! Research shows that weak ties, the ones that connect us to groups we don’t normally associate with are the best for job searches and unique information. 

Business networking mistake 5: Not speaking up in your professional network

In group settings, many working women are hesitant about speaking up, for fear of saying something that’s incorrect or irrelevant. Of course, you shouldn’t speak just to speak — but if you have something to say, get it out! You’re highly competent, professional, and you know what you’re talking about. You wouldn’t have a job in your industry if you didn’t. Stop limiting yourself and speak up when you’ve got something to say!

Don’t underestimate the importance of relationships when it comes to building a successful career. Your intellect, your personality, and your skills give you the ability to excel at your job. But it is effective business networking that opens the doors to new opportunities.

Business networking is an indispensible tool to build the career of your dreams. Too many women at work repeat the same business networking mistakes over and over again — don’t be one of them! If you’d like to learn more, get in touch with us today!

*Photo credit: Svilen Milev.

About The Author: Tanvi Gautam, PhD, is the Managing Partner of an HR consulting and training firm (www.globalpeopletree.com) aimed at creating high engagement work places. When it comes to women and leadership she reminds her clients: “If not you, then who. If not now, then when?” She conducts a highly popular program for corporates called the ‘Secrets Of The Network Weaver’. She blogs on women and leadership at www.wowfactor.asia. Follow her on Twitter @tanvi_gautam.

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