It’s always a good idea to leverage your network as you set your sites on the next big opportunity or the next rung of the career ladder. But while you make the most of your valuable connections, watch out for a few social blunders that can actually close doors instead of opening them. No matter how many connections you have, how close your professional friendships may be, or how often you use your network to get ahead, remember: your relationships should come first on your list of priorities. In order to keep your connections strong, avoid these common blunders.
Don’t Rush to Ask for Favors
Never launch a conversation by immediately discussing your own needs and then asking your contact for a favor. Instead, inquire about their own projects. Remember some of the issues they’ve been wrestling with and politely ask for updates. Show genuine interest in their lives and their situations. When the moment feels right, shift the conversation toward your request. If this seems fake to you, like a ritual or a choreographed dance routine, that’s because it is...But this dance also goes by another name: manners. We use these rituals to show respect for each other, and we gain respect by showing respect first.
Don’t be Forgetful or Clueless
The most socially savvy people around us don’t just have high levels of empathy and emotional intelligence; they also have powerful memories. Their minds retain information and details about the people in their lives, and this information may include names, birthdays, vacation plans, health issues, and career goals. If someone mentions a desire or plan in passing, take a mental note. If they mention that their mother is having surgery, don’t forget this. Knowledge is power…and it also helps us show kindness to others when the moment arrives.
Don’t Be Ungrateful
Expert networkers have mastered the art of saying thank you. They move through their lives constantly thanking others and recognizing that they need the help and support of those around them to accomplish their goals.
Don’t Ask for Recommendations you Haven’t Earned
Too often, desperate job seekers will ask friends and family members to provide them with professional recommendations, even if these people have never seen them operating in a professional capacity. Don’t ask this favor from people who can’t speak directly about your work, and try not to ask those who don’t know you on a personal level. Keep your recommendations relevant to the opportunity you’re pursuing.
Build as many network connections as you can, and then work to keep these people on your side and in your corner. For more advice, arrange a consultation with the financial staffing pros at Cordia.