Mistakes in Professional Networking

21 July 2014


Hello Fellow Networkers, 
The world of Networking is always filled with people that are trying to tell you what do to, and how to do it. Here is a few things you should NOT do.
Don't pursue networking opportunities purely for the job prospects. 
Why? In Hong Kong, your contacts will figure you out. You will leave them feeling used, and they will be less likely to recommend you for an opportunity.
The Answer: Provide Value. If you’re looking for a job, don’t ask for it—work for it. Do research into what your contact does both in and out of work and find ways that you can contribute your time or support. Don't be a stalker, however perhaps you could volunteer your expertise in social media for the next big project they are working on. Maybe offer your accounting knowledge for their non-profit charity events. This will provide opportunity for your contacts to see you in a work capactiy and will be closer to a referral that way.
The "Rules"
Sometimes the unwritten “rules” for networking with peers are straightforward: follow up promptly, connect with them on LinkedIn, offer to buy them coffee or lunch and arrange for a meetup soon. But the harsh truth is, sometimes those "rules" don’t work for people who are above you in status. It would be nice if JK Rowling, Gordon Ramsay, or Taylor Swift wanted to hang out with me, however it is very unlikely. Try not to cross the lines of being a stalker and connect with people on a professional level first. Give them a good reason to meet you. If you are successful, then go ahead with the natural "rules" and network away!
Don't Talk about Yourself—All the Time
You’re passionate, talented and eager! You have lots of ideas to share and you want to make sure that every person you meet knows who you are and what you do. This is great, but be-careful! Do not be repetitive and make sure you listen to what new contacts do and are passionate about. Sharing your life story, and flashing back to every memory you have can be over kill. Just limit yourself, and move on.
Not Saying Thanks
You attended an event and grabbed coffee with a new professional contact. Then—the week got busy, and you didn’t get around to saying thank you. They'll understand, right? Maybe. But if you don’t show gratitude, even in the smallest (or largest) manner, you risk leaving a negative impression— which might not the outcome you hoped for.
The answer? Set yourself a reminder on Gmail, your phone, a small post-it note, and make sure to send off a quick note, or a quick email saying  “thanks for taking the time to meet with me!” It doesn't take much time, and it will be noted by the receiver, that you valued their time and your time together professionally. 
Just remember: Networking can result in life-long contacts. Don't create contacts for the short term and don't pursue contacts for the sole purpose of getting a job. Network the 'right' way, prove your worth, don't stalk, say thank you, and prosper. 
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