Originally published in Inc. Magazine on November 12, 2016
Networking with others is one of the most important ways that we have in business to find new customers and to make connections with others that can lead to our long-term success. While communications technology has taken over many of our business interactions, studies show that 84% of people still prefer in-person meetings, and 85% say that in-person meetings build stronger, more meaningful business relationships.
Unfortunately, many of us underutilize this important resource due to a variety of mistakes we make when it comes to networking. According to career expert Ines Temple, president of LHH-DBM Peru and LHH Chile, these 10 specific networking mistakes can get in the way of your success.
1. “I don’t like to make contacts”
Making contacts is “the conscious and voluntary activity of establishing and maintaining genuine and long-term relationships with persons who we appreciate and respect.” It’s a part of living and interacting within a community and we do it every day.
2. “Contacts are useful only to find work”
It’s a fact that 9 out of 10 jobs are landed, whether directly or indirectly, through contacts. But networking is about making those relationships worthwhile, renewing the bond, and mutually redefining our identity, image, and reputation with each interaction. (And asking a contact for a job is a serious mistake!).
3. “I network only when it’s convenient for me”
This is tantamount to saying “I remember you only when I need you.” Networking solely for your own benefit is self-centered and may be even manipulative. It’s the perfect way to destroy a relationship. We can smell manipulation miles away!
4. “I’m too busy”
Although nothing beats face-to-face interactions to build relationships of trust and affection, digital alternatives are effective to prevent us from vanishing from the face of the earth, a deadly sin in the professional world.
5. “It distracts me from serious work”
Networking takes time and energy, but it is key to employability-it is the “salesforce” of our image and reputation. Without contacts, our accomplishments and progress remain unknown and our personal brand ends up being worthless.
6. “I don’t like to go to social events”
The professional world also provides alternatives to interact with new and diverse people and expand your thinking patterns. Hanging out with the same people every day shows disregard for others, and we may end up being left behind.
7. “Have you heard the latest rumor?”
Using our contact network to harm reputations or to gossip destroys our credibility and our own reputation as serious or loyal individuals, even if we only become involved by listening. Is it worth it? You never know what tomorrow may bring…
8. “I can only afford to build relationships with important contacts”
It’s a serious mistake to think that only high-level contacts are valuable, and look down on others or to be arrogant. All people are worthy regardless of what they work on. There’s no such thing as a small contact!
9. “I have very few contacts”
As adults, we usually have 500 to 1,000 friends and acquaintances between school and college classmates, current and former work colleagues, people we know from our club, gym, the neighborhood, church, from our business, and the relatives and acquaintances of all of the above. Suppliers and clients, former suppliers and clients. Parents of our children’s friends… Make your list and protect it-ideally, in the cloud.
10. “I must impress my contacts”