Getting to know people in your field, and in other fields, can lead to a new career opportunity or help you advance in your current career. Nowadays, networking can be conducted in person or using a variety of technologies including email, texting, social media, and other messaging tools.
It is essential to network in order to increase your job prospects on at least two counts. First, it allows you to understand the opportunities available to you in your field and your options as a job seeker. Secondly, an employer is more likely to hire a candidate who has been recommended by a trusted colleague or contact. Even though networking is important when looking for a job, not everyone does it effectively.
Having online profiles that are outdated or incomplete
Most likely, when you meet people, whether in person or online, they will have a look at your LinkedIn profile or any other social media profiles you have. Having an incomplete or outdated profile may make these new contacts less likely to recommend you for positions they know about. Make sure your social media profiles are regularly updated so that your most relevant information is always on display.
Poor communication skills
Nearly every job requires communication, and it is rare to find a successful employee who lacks this skill. It is therefore imperative to demonstrate strong communication skills when networking with professionals who can launch or advance your career. Poor grammar, excessive or infrequent speaking, or an appearance of social awkwardness may raise concerns about an applicant's ability to communicate with co-workers, managers, or clients once hired. It’s important to show confidence with every interaction.
Failure to assist the other person in any way
Taking advantage of networking for personal gain will most likely lead you to forget about being of service to others. For networking to work, it must be reciprocated.
No excuse is good enough for not taking action - even if you don't believe you can help the other person. It's impossible to know what everyone needs but saying something as simple as "Thank you for taking the time to chat with me. I'd love to stay in touch, and if I can be of assistance in any way, feel free to reach out." can go a long way.
Not being specific enough
Whenever you network, it's tempting to include every possible job you might be interested in, just in case the contact can help you. It may be more difficult for the contact to assist you if you list a bunch of different occupations and industries. Be specific about what you are looking for and narrow your pitch to one field.
Aiming for immediate results
You have to spend time building relationships, finding common ground, and becoming comfortable enough to ask a stranger to recommend you to someone who might hire you. If you want people to go to bat for you, you need to give as much as you get.
It is common for people to assume that networking will lead to immediate personal gain if they are doing it. Although this may be true on a very general level, it could also be a simple matter of broadening your network and/or establishing social connections.
Networking is a common first step in the job search process, so it must be treated with the same professionalism and dedication as job interviews. It is imperative to view networking as a two-way street. Remember that both parties need to help one another, since today’s job seeker could become tomorrow’s employer or mentor.