10 networking mistakes that make you look unprofessional


If done right, networking is proved to be the best investment of every professional’s time and effort. It helps establish meaningful business connections and advance careers. And best of all, it helps you the most on a personal level. Here are 10 networking mistakes that make you look unprofessional.

But it seems like every networking event comes with a few bewildering moments. One might fret over what to wear, get tensed that he wouldn’t know what to say.

Some sweaty handshakes can give you a cringe-worthy experience, but here are 10 networking mistakes that can hinder your efforts to meet like-minded people and advance your career.

1. A is for Absence.

The biggest networking mistake an unprofessional can make is simply being absent; whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or part of a large company, it’s important to be visible and get noticed. One of the best ways to do this is by regularly attending professional and social events. In addition, by continually contributing information and tips to people who need them, you’ll quickly establish a reputation as a knowledgeable and reliable contact in your industry sector.

2. B is for being unprepared.

Sometimes a networking event might catch you off guard. Perhaps you received the last-minute invitation to the event, or perhaps you had committed to it months ago and didn’t remember until the day it was scheduled. The best advice for avoiding this mistake is to make a polished appearance a part of your routine. Keep your resume up to date, always carry your business card and dress professionally every time.
But preparing for events, conferences, and meetings doesn’t mean coming with a freshly printed stack of business cards. If you know certain people attending or speaking at the event, which might be in your interest, you should do your homework on them ahead of time. This will help you skip the small talk and get right into a meaningful conversation.

3. Putting on a front.

Never pretend to know someone you don’t or fabricate details in your job history. Although it is actually a common networking practice, no matter how eager you might be to ingratiate yourself with someone, lying is not the way to make that happen. Instead, be truthful about what you do and why you are there.

4. Overselling yourself!

Could you not do it? If you don’t really have specialized training in a specific department or your “second language” is a few semesters of French in college, don’t try to sell them as valuable skills or use them in your resume.

5. Asking the same question as everyone else.

Be Unique, Come up with new ideas. If you want to be good at networking, you have to stand out from the crowd, and to that, you have to avoid asking the same old, predictable questions everyone else is asking? The best way to make a positive impression on someone is to ask questions that unleash their passion or require them to tell personal stories.

Also Read: Answering the Question

6. Not being helpful to others.

Focus on being helpful to others rather than focusing on what benefits you can get out of the networking relationship. When you rethink how you network in this way, you’ll see the quality of your interactions go way up.

Burke suggests starting with the goal of helping ten people per month in a meaningful way. Start with a list from your immediate network, and “once you’ve warmed up your shockingly helpful muscles, expand your network each week.” Trust me; this will pay off over time.

Remember: What goes around comes back around. 

7. Not asking for anything or asking too much.

It’s helpful to come to a networking event or conversation with a specific goal in mind. For example, maybe you’re looking for a job and want to get advice on how to build your resume — or even get a referral. Or perhaps you already have a job, and you’re looking for feedback on your project, or you want to spread the word about your company’s work.

Once you have a goal in mind, the hard part is letting the other person know about your goal without coming off like you’re using them. When you’re networking, it’s okay — even encouraged — to have an “ask.” Not only can it help move the conversation and the relationship along, but it can also provide some welcome context to your follow-up.

However, there are two mistakes people often make here: Either they don’t make their “ask” clear enough, or they overdo it and ask too much of someone.

It would help if you didn’t ask for too much from someone you barely know. There’s a huge difference between asking someone for advice on your next career move and asking them to be your mentor forever and ever. The same goes for asking for a quote for a piece you’re writing versus asking them to review the entire piece and give you in-depth feedback.

8. Treating anyone as unimportant

Dismantling people who don’t meet the criteria of big names and A-listers is a mistake. A single discouraging comment can embarrass and discredit you for years to come. Instead, treat everyone you meet like they could make a real difference in your life. Be respectful and present, even if the connection is brief.

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9. Saying too much

If you are hitting it off with a new connection, you might get so comfortable that you actually say too much. Be warm and be friendly, but avoid oversharing about your personal life and never talk poorly about your past or present employer.

Even if you left your last job due to conflict, that doesn’t need to focus on your networking event. Instead, if questions about your past work come up, work hard to bring the conversation back to the positive, such as what you liked or what you learned from that job.

10. Avoiding being the one to end the conversation.

Ah, the art of gracefully ending a conversation at a networking event. It’s a tricky skill to master, but it’ll save you from ending up feeling trapped. 

Do not commit the mistake of letting people dominate your time because you will end up only talking to a few people for long periods and wasting the opportunity to connect with more people and share more ideas.

Although there is no need for you to hand out your resume at a networking event, it would still make sense to have an updated resume on you just in case you need it. How about getting a free resume review from our experts to make sure your resume is updated and ready to give out.