The Career-Killing Networking Mistake You Must Avoid

Are you making a killer networking mistake that is derailing your job search efforts? Many people do.

I built my first business through networking alone—no website, no marketing, no social media, and ugly business cards. Now, as someone who teaches networking, I find that I’m both self-conscious (am I practicing what I preach?) and highly observant (I can’t believe he just did that!) when I go out networking.

As I’ve refined both my own process and what I teach, I’ve learned that one of the most important pieces to becoming a good networker is learning what NOT to do. If you want to create success for yourself from networking—building relationships, finding jobs, meeting collaborators, or landing new clients—I highly recommend that you avoid this common networking blunder:

Don’t sell yourself (or your product) right away.

When I ask people what they don’t like about networking, the number one reason I hear is this: everyone is selling something. My clients complain that people at networking events are “salesy,” fake, and only there because they want something.

Here’s the deal—we all have agendas when we go out networking. We might be looking for a new job, clients, collaborators, or staff. This alone is not the problem.

The problem begins when you start looking at every new person you meet as a potential employer or client. If you’re seeing dollar signs above someone’s head, you are most likely projecting a desperate, “salesy” energy, which is the wrong energy for networking.

The vast majority of people will be turned off if you try a hard sell before they have shown interest. Even if they would have been interested in what you have to offer, the damage is done.

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Instead, look at each person you meet simply as a new connection.

Only share more about what you do and how you might be able to help someone if they have made it clear that they’re interested in learning more. If you follow this rule, you will both enjoy networking more and have more success!