Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Networking: Mistakes you Don’t Know You’re Making

This blog post was written by Peer Career Ambassador, Stela Maksutaj (’17).

Networking (ˈnetˌwərk): socioeconomic business activity by which business people and entrepreneurs meet to form business relationships and to recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities, share information and seek potential partners for ventures.

How intimidating! The word networking itself is off putting to some people, but really what we are saying is…It’s important to build and foster relationships. When observing the bare foundation of how to network, there are key mistakes most people make. Here are a few mistakes you should avoid:

  1. Having unrealistic expectations

If you go into an event expecting a job from someone, you are doing it all wrong! Depending on the context of your interaction, your conversation should be focused on learning more about the other person and their experiences. Pushing or even asking for a job is completely inappropriate in a networking setting, and should be avoided at all costs. View every interaction as an opportunity to build a relationship with someone, which might benefit you in future.

  1. Contacting your Network Only when You Need Them

The trick to fostering a relationship lies in timing. Once you have developed some sort of relationship with someone, it is critical to keep them in mind aside from times of need. Shooting a “how are you doing since our last conversation..” email can go a long way. When it is time to reach out to your networks for an internship or job, this person will feel more inclined to help you because of the relationship you have fostered. The overall conversation will seem more natural, and the person will have a better time actually supporting you.

  1. Forgetting to Follow Up

Following up a networking conversation is almost as important as the conversation itself. Sending a thank you email, or better yet hand written note, makes you memorable and professional. It is important to send the follow up in a timely fashion, as well as creating a space for an open forum in the future. To remain memorable, you can slip in a part of your conversation that exceptionally stood out, such as something funny discussed or a similarity/connection (similar interest in sports, food, etc.) Forgetting to send a follow up cuts your line of communication, and your number one goal should be to extend this line!

There is a nuance to networking, and though everyone has his or her own personal twist, many things are standard. If you make sure to avoid these common mistakes, you already have one foot up on your peers. Good luck, and Happy Networking Season!