By now, we’ve all heard that networking is important, whether you’re looking for a new job, you’ve just started at a new company, or you simply want to remain connected and engaged in your industry or professional communities. While there’s no one right way to approach networking – building relationships is more art than science, in my experience – there are some wrong ways to go about it.
Here are some of the key mistakes that I’ve encountered over the years that I’d like to help you avoid.
Don’t treat networking like a one-way transaction, where you reach out to someone to “get something” like a favor, information, or introduction to another person. While that may be true for some people, that’s not the approach or attitude that I recommend.
Networking is a two-way street, where you get to know people and they get to know you. The relationship is nurtured because you invest in it and because both parties enjoy it and benefit from it. So don’t forget the natural give-and-take of any relationship and be willing to offer up your services, insights, or connections as well.
When you’ve finally nailed down that coffee chat with a VP at your dream company, don’t waste their time asking questions whose answers you could easily find on your own. Instead, do your homework before the meeting and come with thoughtful insights and questions whose answers will truly further your knowledge of the industry, the company, and the recruiting landscape.
You want the other person to be impressed with your level of research because who knows, they may end up recommending you for a job if they also feel like you’re the right fit for their company!
Lastly, don’t forget your manners! Busy professionals are, well, very busy and while they’re often happy to help, it takes effort on their part. So be sure to express your gratitude for their time and input.
Don’t forget to send a thank you email within a reasonable time after your meeting. If they tell you they can only spare 20 minutes, remain vigilant of the time and say your thank-you’s and goodbye’s when it’s up. Those manners will go a long way in leaving a good impression.
Melody Jones is the co-founder of Vantage Point MBA Admissions Consulting, a boutique, full-service MBA admissions consulting firm that advises applicants to the top MBA programs in the world. With Vantage Point, Melody and her co-founder, Meredith, have developed a unique 360° approach to the application process, delivering the perspectives that matter from not only experienced consultants and former admissions directors from top 10 MBA programs but also current MBA students and post-MBA professionals at some of the top companies in the world. By providing its clients firsthand insights from people who understand the process from the inside out, Vantage Point helps each candidate develop the most competitive and differentiated applications possible, maximizing his or her chances of admission to the most selective MBA programs.