Want to make tons of valuable connections and build a solid network? Of course you do!
There are a lot of people who HATE the thought of networking. It can seem intimidating, fake, and hard to do. But the reality is that networking is a key skill you need to learn in order to be successful—no matter what you do.
If you're struggling to make more career friends and professional connections, you probably need to take a second look at your networking strategy. Are you making any of these mistakes?
You're A Selfish Networker
When you're networking, do you go in thinking, "How are you going to help me?" or do you go in thinking, "How can we help each other?"
Networking isn't all about your needs—it's about the other person's needs, too. Yes, you have a goal: you're looking for someone to help you get ahead, and someone who can give you the right introduction. However, the people you're networking with are trying to do the same thing.
If you're having a conversation with someone and making it all about you and your needs, you're probably not going to get too much support from the other person. They also have goals, and if they think you'll just take advantage of their network without anything in return, they probably won't be too open to working with you.
The key is offering value. Before you ask for a favor, you should always offer something of value to your new connection. Whether it's a strategic connection or simply a relevant article, offering your support early in the game will prove you're going to be a valuable connection in the future. It will also encourage people to return the favor somehow—and that favor could be introducing you to someone in their network.
You Wait Too Long To Follow Up With A New Connection
Don't you hate it when you had a great conversation with someone and you never hear from them again? How about when they just wait too long to reach out to you and you don't remember what you talked about?
Don't be that person. It's just bad networking. Follow up within 24 hours of meeting your new connection and briefly refresh them on your conversation. Then, make a note of your conversation so you can remember why you connected later on.
You Don't Keep In Touch With Your Contacts
Another thing that can frustrate both you and your connections is when someone only reaches out when they need something. Talk about feeling used!
It's important to nurture your network, even when you don't need it. Sending a friendly email to see how business is going or sending an article you think they might find interesting is all you need to help stay fresh on your connections' minds. Then, when you do need their help, they won't feel like you're just reaching out to them out of the blue, and they will be more likely to help you out.
So, how does your networking strategy stack up? If you're making any of these mistakes, you should re-evaluate.
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This post was originally published at an earlier date.