How Not To Network

Posted: April 10, 2012

Working women in India need to network for professional success. Here are 5 common networking mistakes you should never make.

 

By Prerna Malik

Networking is key to boosting your professional growth or improving your business prospects, for working women in India. Whether you work in an organization or run your own show, you have to spend time interacting with people, both in person and via email or social networking sites.

Have you ever stopped to give a thought to how people may perceive you via your networking efforts?

Do you come across as the helpful team player you really are or do people think you’re nosy and bothersome? Do your emails upset your clients? Do your social media profiles tie in with your professional and business goals?

Yes, networking is important and how you network makes a huge difference to how people respond and react to you. Create a networking style that is authentic and appealing by avoiding these 5 common networking mistakes:

1. Using the wrong body language and tone

Networking in person at events, meetings and conferences can be a great way to meet potential employers and prospective clients. However, if your body language comes across as overbearing or aggressive, you’ll only end up driving people away. Lata Goenka Kedia, Founder and Image Director at Maximum Effect Image Consultants says, “Respect body space and don’t hog people.” Using too many gestures, loud talking or moving in too close to a person can put off people and be disastrous for your networking efforts.

Conversation too is vital. Whether you’re talking online or offline, how you converse makes a world of difference to your networking abilities and success. Do your emails have letters in CAPS? Do you use pleasantries before jumping into dry business details? When you talk to someone, are you curt or is your voice warm and welcoming?

The best way to know whether you’re making this common networking mistake is to ask for feedback from others – a professional business consultant, trusted friends, colleagues or even, family members. Ask them to read your email or social media updates and give you feedback on phone conversations.

Whether you’re talking online or offline, how you converse makes a world of difference to your networking abilities and success.

2. Networking only when you want to

Are you networking only to promote yourself or only when you want to? Is your online or offline conversation only about you, you and more you? Well, chances are that people are no longer listening. Networking only to sell will never help you actually sell anything. Sarika Gupta Bhattacharya, Founder and Director of Altavis and BizDivas puts is best when she says, “Avoid hard selling or even selling while networking… focus on helping and building a connection or relationship.

Networking should be about helping another person and not about helping yourself. Your communication should reflect your desire to actually build a professional relationship with the other person. Garvita Chaturvedi, Executive Coach and HR Specialist at Altavis Pvt. Ltd, feels one should, “Focus on finding out areas of common interest rather than talking about your own product/service.

Networking only when you want to is a mistake that most people make and this sends out the message that you’re not serious about your network and only want to ‘use’ them. And trust me, no one likes to be used. So, make networking an integral part of your everyday life and you’ll be surprised to see the benefits flow in.

3. Not respecting personal boundaries

Do you contact people whenever you want to? Call them at inappropriate hours or drop by their offices without prior appointments? Bhattacharya stresses the importance of asking for permission to contact people over the phone and also, ask for convenient times to call. Yes, life is busy for everyone and no one likes to be bothered by calls and meetings that aren’t scheduled and planned. So, before you pick up that phone, check to see if the time is appropriate and if possible, send an email to set up a convenient time to chat. 

4. Spamming your network

Unfortunately, not many of us realize that we’re spamming our carefully cultivated network when we send out mass emails, tweets or posts simply talking about our latest product, event or promotion. All the time. Sure, you can reach out to your network to share your business, but if you do it too often, people will lose interest and will no longer want to stay connected with you. A good rule is to have a healthy mix of business, general and personal updates. This is more of a risk especially during online business networking as it is easier to exploit social media than engage with it. So review your last emails and social networking updates to see if you’re making this huge mistake.

5. Telling your network…everything

In an age where Facebook friends and Twitter followers are an integral part of our lives, it is easy to share everything with our network – from our latest product to the toothache you’re experiencing today. Don’t get carried away by the ease of social networking and use it to share EVERYTHING with your friends and followers. Why? Because you never know who may be listening to your online conversation.

A prospective employer may Google your name and come across your rant about a former co-worker on Facebook, using uncomplimentary language.

Treat your online conversations with the same respect and discretion as your offline interactions.

Treat your online conversations with the same respect and discretion as your offline interactions. Don’t ‘say’ anything that can impact your professional reputation in a negative way. A little tact, diplomacy and caution can go a long way in creating a professional network that works to your utmost advantage.

Networking in a way that reflects genuine concern and authenticity is what connects others to you. So, the next time you write an email or Facebook update or make a phone call, make sure that you aren’t making these networking gaffes and hurting your professional reputation.

What do you think are the networking mistakes that people make when connecting with others, online and offline?

*Photo credit: MichaelR

About the Author: Prerna Malik is the editor of The Mom Writes, a site for work-from-home moms and co-owner of Social Media Direct, a digital agency that offers quality, customized social media and web content solutions to business owners.

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