9 Networking Blunders That Undermine Your Reputation

Ive been called the "queen of networking" for longer than I can remember. At one point, I felt like this was, perhaps, an insult, since so many people think networking is a bad word. But I later realizedthats simply because too many people do it poorly, thus giving networking a bad name. After countless conversations, speeches, and seminars teaching people how to better network, here are the nineways that you might be contributing to the bad wrap that networking gets.

1. You don't get buy-in.

One of the linchpins of networking is the ability to create value-add relationships for others, which begins with an introduction. That intention is pure and necessary. Where the error begins is when you blindly send a three-way email introduction (or worse, just give someone the third partys contact info) so that you and your original conversation partner know the introduction is coming, but the third party is in-the-dark.

I much prefer to take the extra step of calling or emailing before making an introduction to get the buy-in from the third party. This preps everyone and makes the introduction seamless and more importantly, invited by all parties.

Of course, there are circumstances where this isnt necessary because you are certain its a value-add to both parties and/or you have such a trusted relationship with the third party that you know it will be a warranted introduction. When deciding how to proceed, put yourself in the shoes of the third party and ask yourself, If I got a blind email connecting me to this person by this person, how would I feel?

Related:4 Ways to Make Yourself Memorable and Leave Great Impressions

2. You don't follow up.

Follow up is critical both to keep the momentum going once an introduction is made and to close-the-loop afterward. The biggest problem is when someone makes an introduction for you and you never let that person know what happened as a result. This is a fast way to inadvertently signal to that person that you dont value their time or that they leveragedtheir reputation with the other party. Do a quick follow up and share what occurred (as well as to say thank you).

3. You keep bad company.

Its no wonder that when we were kids, our parents were so concerned about whether or not we were hanging out with the bad kids. You are the company you keep, both by osmosis and by the perception of others. The good news is, if you keep great company, you get to ride on their reputational equity as well as glean great traits from them. But when we keep poor company, they bring us down and lessen the way others perceive us. Consider doing some housekeeping.

4. You take too long.

I believe that 24 business hours is the maximum amount of time you have to follow up with someone before you begin to look like you dont care or think you are too important. We are all busy and pulled in a lot of directions. But your reply can be as simple as, Im back-logged on email right now and wanted you to know that I saw your note. Iwill get back with you as soon as possible, and look forward to connecting soon!.

5. You only look out for yourself.

One of the primary reasonsnetworking has a sullied reputation isso many people who claim to be "networking" are simplyout for their own advantage. Its best to shift your mentality tobeing curious when you meet or connect with people. Ask them meaningful questions and really listen. See what you can learn and how you can find connection points. Always ask how you can help them in some way, not with an expectation of what you can get in return.

Related:Science Says Doing These 3 Simple Things Will Make You More Charismatic

6. You only think up.

Its not uncommon to think that the only way to advance is to buoy yourself to people with higher titles or more perceived power. While its fine to connect with people who are further along in their careers, dont forget that theres also value in meeting people in every direction of where you are in your career trajectory: down, laterally and up.

7. You underestimate the power of someones Rolodex.

When you meet someone, youre not meeting just them, youre meeting hundreds of people. As we can see from social media, people have hundreds (if not thousands) of contacts.While some are naturally stronger than others, keep in mind that they are a gatekeeper to the people they know and to whom they could introduce you. Dont write someone off because you dont see immediate value.

8. You dont do what you say youre going to do.

This is a quick way to chip away at trust and lessen your credibility. If you say youll follow up with an email today, do it. If you say youll be at the dinner, be thereand be on time.

9. You think youdont need to network.

As someone who hosts monthly networking events in three cities for hundreds of people at each event, I often hear this when I extend invitations. When you say you dont need to networkyoure sayingyou will never be in need of the help of others nor do you want to meet anyone new to help them.

Networking is a fancy word for relationship building, so youre basically saying that you are happy to live with the circle youve created and have put up a wall to anyone else. What you may mean is that youre not currently looking for something you think you can gain from meeting new people (refer back to point 5) or that you dont like big events, in which case, express that.

If you see yourself in any of these networking faux-pas, consider working on them in the New Year to expandyour circle!

Related:Feel Like No One Likes Your Great Idea? Here Are 5 Reasons Why People Might Oppose It.

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