If you ask an association leader to list his or her strengths, “networking” would probably be near the top, and for good reason! Association leaders work with a lot of people and have to delegate tasks, wrangle volunteers, and head up programs. Those networking connections are incredibly valuable to association leaders to accomplish all those tasks. But there are some pretty common mistakes that can strike even the savviest networker. I saw this great article on businessinsider.com about it, and it addresses that very issue! Here are businessinsider.com’s recommendations and a few of my own.
- Not Maintaining Relationships
Not following up on networking connections is like going to the grocery store, getting a full cart of groceries, then leaving it in the store and walking out empty handed. What a waste of time! Make notes on business cards, leave yourself calendar messages, or even write on your hand… but follow through! Those relationships are hard to come by and valuable. Take care of them when the opportunities present themselves!
- Being Self-Centered
Nobody wants to hear about “me-me-me” even in a job interview where, to be fair, they’re asking all about you-you-you. We’ve mentioned the Cocktail Party Rule on the MC Talks blog before: talk about yourself the way you would contribute to a conversation at a cocktail party. 70% of the time let them talk, and you pick up the last 30%. Be sure to have some questions on hand, too! Be interested!
- Not Being Polite
This seems so obvious, but think about the direction that networking events are moving these days. Venues like bars are common, offices are more and more casual, and lots of pros are trying “outside the box” networking events to make them more fun and easy to attend. The downfall there is that it’s easy to forget that you’re still technically in a professional setting and then down goes your guard and sometimes the manners go too. Be polite! These impressions last a long time and even if you don’t care about embarrassing yourself in front of a stranger now, he or she may wind up on the other side of a desk from you one day.
- Sloppy Online Presence
Speaking of sloppy, get those online profiles together. You don’t necessarily have to go so far as to have your own website, but remember running a name through a search engine or social media search is pretty standard in networking these days. Make sure your profiles are at least current and complete. Worry about the frills later.
- Pitching “The Ask” Too Early
It’s pretty standard “bad form” but you’d be surprised how many people lead with, “can you get me a job?” Other popular asks are, “Do you know so-and-so?” “Who can I talk to so I can get a job just like yours?” and “Will you read/edit/critique this?” Don’t start out right away asking for a favor. You can keep that goal in the back of your head, but asking right away seems rude and a bit needy.
Here are a few others to watch out for:
Faking expertise or knowledge
- Discounting someone because they don’t appear to be “useful”
- Not saying thanks
- Gathering a network so large you forget who people are
Need some more help with networking? Click below to download our free guide!