5 Professional Networking Blunders
Whether you’re actively looking for a new career, or just looking to boost your online professional networking, it is very important to ensure that you aren’t doing anything to damage your professional image or ruin your chances of building an engaged following of industry professionals. In this article we will look at 5 professional networking blunders that you must avoid.
1. Using LinkedIn as a digital CV
A common misconception is that LinkedIn is just a digital, online CV, but this can be very limiting to your networking efforts or job hunt. Whilst LinkedIn does provide you with a platform from which to include your professional achievements and experiences, it is not a good idea to simply create a carbon copy of your CV on there.
LinkedIn has many capabilities, and being able to showcase your online, interactive CV is not the only one. Try selecting the most recent and relevant experiences from your CV and highlight them on your LinkedIn profile. This will allow people viewing your profile to gain a good understanding of who you are very quickly.
However, there are many other features built into LinkedIn which will help you to connect with other professionals and showcase your experiences in the early stages of your job hunt. Begin investigating LinkedIn’s Groups and start posting updates to your profile and you should start to see how LinkedIn is an incredible multi-directional conversational platform.
Final thought: Does your LinkedIn profile highlight your professional career in a concise manner?
2. Arriving at a networking meeting unprepared
There’s no better way to fail in an event or networking meeting than to go in unprepared and without an agenda. Planning what you want to achieve is the key to any kind of success, so make sure you have done the same for your networking endeavours. Whether you’re looking for a new career or you just want to make new connections with fellow industry professionals, it is so important to plan ahead and then stick to that plan.
Time is of the essence and oftentimes you only have a couple of minutes to converse with others at such networking meetings. However, when networking with people on social media platforms (such as Twitter or LinkedIn) it can be even harder to get someones attention and retain it than it is on a one-to-one basis. Sticking to a plan of what you want to say and what you want to achieve will help you to keep to the point and not get side tracked – not to mention you’ll avoid having any awkward moments!
Final thought: What can you offer them in exchange for their knowledge?
3. Ignoring LinkedIn Groups
One of the best ways to meet professionals within your industry and join in with a conversation of interest is to join a LinkedIn Group, but many professionals overlook this. Ignoring LinkedIn Groups is the same as turning your head to a group of like-minded industry professionals at a networking meeting.
LinkedIn Groups are often very targeted to a specific conversation, especially those that are private and by invitation only, so be sure to pick your groups well. It might even be worth trying to contact one of the group admins requesting an invitation and introducing yourself, providing them with a reason why you would be a great addition to the group and conversations taking place on there.
Be sure to spend some time first getting to know the group, reading through past threads and conversations, and have a look through the other members. Knowing your audience is key and you want to make a very good first impression, so doing this initial research will be invaluable to you. Ensure you contribute regularly, perhaps once or twice a week to begin with, but don’t over do it, especially if you aren’t an expert on the topic.
Final thought: Are you providing others with information on topics that you are an expert in? Are you letting your voice be heard?
4. Not having an elevator pitch
Imagine that you get into an elevator and standing next to you is the CEO of your or another company and you have 30 seconds to pitch yourself to them. What do you say? If you’re not sure what you’d say then you clearly don’t have an elevator pitch to hand – and this could lose you a great connection and / or your perfect job.
What you need to do is think about who you are and what your key selling points are, and then practice your speech.
It is important to be positive and confident in what you say, there’s nothing worse than making it awkward for the other person, but don’t pitch yourself at the wrong level as this will come back to bite you if you do make some headway. Lastly, never directly ask for an opportunity as this will make for an awkward situation for the other person and will likely make them very uncomfortable.
Final thought: Would you be interested in meeting you again if you were the person on the receiving end of your elevator pitch?
5. Other blunders
Preparation is key, and investing some time into pitching yourself in the right light is a very good investment of your time – not doing this, however could have a much more negative affect than you could imagine.
Think about every eventuality from your online and offline networking endeavours. If you met someone in an elevator tomorrow, would you be able to pitch yourself to them successfully? Would you be able to hand them your business card – and would this include your current contact details and social network links? If a headhunter was to look at your LinkedIn profile would they get a very good understanding of your professional achievements and capabilities very quickly? If the answer to these questions is ‘no‘ then you need to make some changes.
Final thought: Are you doing everything in your power to present yourself to others in the light you would like to be received?
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