It's common knowledge that networking is extremely important to your job hunt, but are you making easily avoidable networking gaffs? Though the concept of networking is relatively simple, there are a number of ways to not execute your social skills well in practice. Simply put, people are different professionally and socially, and it can make the process of expanding your career network complicated. Not everyone is good at working a room and making connections. On the other hand, others are great at meeting lots of people, but are forgetful, inattentive or rude. However, there are common guidelines that can help you connect with people during your job search. Here are four mistakes to avoid when networking:
Not using the Internet
It's imperative to meet people in person at job fairs and other professional social gatherings, but the Internet is a necessary way to stay in contact with a vast network of people in your industry. Social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all great platforms for connecting with people. If you're not consistently active across multiple online avenues then you can potentially miss out on job opportunities or fall out of touch with associates and hiring managers.
Only thinking about yourself
Don't go into a networking situation with a selfish mindset. Remember that people want to connect with you for the same reasons you want to connect with them. Create a two-way street, and don't forget to share opportunities and pay it forward when someone helps you land an interview or pushes your resume to the top of the pile.
Forgetting to say thank you
If someone takes the time to help you out, make sure you properly thank them. This can be done with a handwritten letter or a kindly-worded email. The main idea is to emphasize your gratitude, because they took time out of their busy schedule to help you get ahead by connecting you with others.
Not following up
Always follow up with new connections. While you might meet dozens of people during a networking event, it's important to send quick emails or connect on LinkedIn the next day to stay in touch. If you promise to send someone your resume or portfolio, don't blow it off. Make sure you send them those materials as soon as possible to demonstrate your professionalism and initiative. You never know what it may lead to.