Strategic Business Networking

6 Brutal Fails of Networking

This is a guest post from Laura Jorgensen of Cedar Fort Books. Follow Cedar Fort on Twitter and Like them on Facebook!

Why should people network?

The answer might be obvious to many who have benefited from the effects of networking.

“Many people make introductions, get promoted, or jumpstart career transitions because of networking – having the courage to meet new people and having the discipline to maintain familiar contacts,” says Caroline Ceniza-Levine of SixFigureStart.

For myself, about half of the jobs that I’ve had were because I knew someone who already worked there. From an internet point of view, networking is a way to get your message heard by as many people as possible. The more friends you have the more people willing to listen and repeat your message.

You’re probably saying to yourself about now, “Wait! I thought you were going to tell us how to not network.” So I am, but first I wanted to set the stage of what networking can do.

Recently I went to two different conventions, one for fun and personal interests and the other for work. Conventions are great places to network because it is a bunch of like-minded people getting together to talk about something that they’re passionate about. You don’t have to seek them out, they’ve gathered together for you.

Unfortunately I mostly failed at the whole networking thing, especially at the second convention (granted the second day I was sick, but still). I only gave out my business card to one (count them, 1) person total, and that was because I told myself I couldn’t leave until I did (I left right after). I was able to say hi to some of the panelists, but it wasn’t anything that would make them remember me out of the hundreds of other people that were there trying to network too.

On the whole, the one good experience was definitely a foil for my many other failures. And from those, here is what I’ve learned about how to NOT network:

6 Ways to Network Unsuccessfully

  1. Blend in: If they can’t see you they won’t know that you’re there.
  2. Don’t talk: Not even to your neighbor, not even about the weather, cause that might lead to something else.
  3. Be obnoxious: No I wasn’t (at least I don’t think I was), but I noticed some people that, even though they had good resumes, I wasn’t sure that I’d want to be in contact with later.
  4. Be sick: Well I guess that’s not really a requirement, but being grumpy and miserable is indeed a turn off. If you really want people to stay away you could hack into a handkerchief every once in a while.
  5. Be self-centered: One-sided conversations, are great ways to not get to know other people.
  6. Don’t have a purpose: At the first convention I knew more the type of person that I was interested in networking with. At the second I didn’t. So I ended up just swiping swag off their tables and not really talking to them.

Moral of the story: Don’t do what I did at the conventions.

Go talk to people. Be memorable. Be interested in other people and they will most likely be interested in you. Be a likable person so that people will WANT to be your friend. And don’t be afraid to talk to strangers–they may be just the person you’re looking for. Also stay in contact with old and new friends. You never know when you might hit a gold mine.

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