11 May Ten Serious Networking Mistakes
Original Spanish version published in El Comercio newspaper (Peru) on June 11, 2016
- “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.
- “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!).
- “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!
- “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.
- “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.
- “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.
- “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…
- “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 to look down on others or to be conceited. All people are worthy regardless of what they do to make a living. There’s no such thing as a small contact!
- “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. Contacts include suppliers and clients, as well as former suppliers and clients; and the parents of our children’s friends… Make your list and protect it –ideally, in the cloud.
- “I must impress my contacts”
The essence of every good relationship is trust, not impressing others. Acting appropriately, and being genuinely warm and authentic opens the doors to trust and credibility. Being polite to everyone and listening to them with a real interest benefits your personal and professional image and reputation. The secret is to inspire others and always leave something valuable for them in every interaction!