Don't commit these "seven deadly sins" of professional networking.
"Your network is your net worth." It's an oft-uttered piece of business advice that holds true in virtually every career path and industry. As many highly qualified candidates who have lost out on a job have learned, it's more often who you know rather than what you know that gets you where you need to go.
Networking is one of the most important things you can do as an entrepreneur. Whether it's online through social media sites or offline at industry events, there's a good chance that anyone you connect with can either help you directly or put you in touch with someone else who can. Your professional network can be invaluable to the success of your business, providing new perspectives and ideas, advice and even financial resources, so it's crucial to learn good relationship management skills to make the most out of each new connection.
Mike Muhney, CEO of mobile relationship management purveyor vipOrbit, warned that while social media is incredibly powerful and useful in networking, it can also hurt your ability to create professional and personal connections if you don't utilize it well.
"We are all so caught up in technology and digital self-expression that we have lost touch from a person-to-person standpoint and allow ourselves to think in terms of mass breadth, i.e. how many friends, followers or viewers we have,"Muhney told BusinessNewsDaily. "Meaningful business always has, and always will, come from meaningful relationships. The best and most enduring ones are personal and individual, not mass, based and thus sustainable."
Following the model of the classic seven deadly sins, Muhney outlined seven mistakes that can be detrimental to your networking success:
If you don’t believe in you, who will? Self-promotion requires tact. Toot your horn too often or too loudly, and all you can expect is a wave of unreturned messages and deleted connections. People are attracted to authenticity. Crafting a false image is a turnoff to all. Share your accomplishments and the spotlight with those who contributed to your success. You might even score bonus exposure by reaching beyond your network.
If your personal concerns are your only concerns, why should others care about you? When you seek to meet others' needs and do a great job, they're more inclined to reciprocate. Focus your messages and offerings on the interests and needs of your audience, not what you're looking to promote.
If you're too eager or lusting after the attention of others, your otherwise professional efforts can lead to a very unprofessional reputation. Nobody invites crossing the line of acceptable and professional efforts with that of becoming a pest revealing personal cravings over that of the other's needs. You can’t force someone to reciprocate. Do what you said you'd do or send what you promised and let the rest happen naturally.
If you read an email with unintended sarcasm or interpret a short missive as an angry one, you might be tempted to reciprocate in kind. The power of a smile and laughter can produce priceless and ever-expanding opportunities, but the consequences of discourtesy are immediately and potentially irreversibly destructive. Consider communication carefully. Responding in anger can destroy your reputation and your relationships.
If you're sending mass emails or group texts in an effort to save yourself time but at the expense of oversharing information, you risk losing the right to be taken seriously. By default, "mass" is mutually exclusive of "personal." Balance group messages for general announcements by inviting personal responses of interest.
If you're building yourself up by putting others down, your need for the spotlight will backfire. Don't focus on what others have or the connections others have made. Set your own relationship goals based on what you have to offer your network, not what you seek to gain from them.
If your efforts to connect or stay in touch border on the apathetic, you need to shape up, perhaps in more ways than one. A lack of drive and determination to exercise meaningful connections will only result in relationship atrophy. Scheduling regular communication may be drudgery, but positive results will prove worth the time and effort.
"Generally speaking, the complete antidote to the seven deadly networking sins is nothing more than simply being nice to all people all the time," Muhney said. "In fact, some relationship experts estimate that simply being nice can result in a 30 to 40 percent increase in success. Who ever thought that simply being nice could in fact be the very thing that completely sets you apart and distinct from everyone else, and helps pave your road to success?"