Mistakes That Hinder Effective Networking

Networking, as defined by Investopedia as “the exchange of information and ideas among people with a common profession or special interest,” extends beyond job-seekers and new hires. It’s a practice that offers substantial advantages even to CEOs and business leaders.

While many prefer to connect within their own industry, CEOs and business owners benefit from engaging with individuals across diverse fields. This approach enables them to “gain insights into new business models, technologies, marketing strategies, etc., which can be integrated into their own businesses, and potentially position them as industry leaders.”

Like any business initiative, effective networking requires a strategic approach. Here are common pitfalls that can hinder the successful expansion of your professional network:

Going in with no game plan

Some business leaders believe they can improvise at networking events without setting clear objectives or adequately preparing beforehand by researching the event and its attendees. However, relying on spontaneity isn’t the most effective strategy for networking.

According to Navigate Forward, “No one wants to spend time repeating information that’s easily accessible online.” Before attending an event, it’s advisable to scrutinise the attendee list if available and review “your [potential] contact’s LinkedIn profile, company website, and any articles they’ve authored to prepare for your meeting.”

Making it all about you

Participating in a networking event does not mean you should monopolise conversations or extensively discuss your personal or professional life. Effective networking involves leveraging the opportunity to understand others and their business motivations. Remember to ask questions and show genuine interest in others’ perspectives and experiences.

Coming across as unprofessional

According to Indeed, enjoying yourself at a networking event is perfectly fine, provided you maintain professionalism by using “please” and “thank you,” respecting personal space, and being courteous. Have a good time, but always ensure you treat others with respect and kindness.

Not willing to help others

As emphasised, effective networking involves more than just focusing on your own interests. Approach conferences or trade shows with the intention of sharing your knowledge and expertise to assist others.

According to author and coach Lolly Daskal, when you establish a reputation for being helpful within your network, “people will be eager to reciprocate.” Whenever feasible, enthusiastically respond to requests for advice and take additional steps to understand their needs, offering proactive assistance.

Failing to follow up

Failing to follow up after networking could be the most critical mistake you make. Imagine meeting interesting individuals at a conference, exchanging contact details, and agreeing to stay connected. If you don’t follow through, you risk losing valuable resources for future professional endeavors.

According to LinkedIn, “Send a personalised email or message within a day or two, thanking them for their time, summarising key points, and proposing a next step.” This proactive approach demonstrates your interest, reliability, and initiative when reconnecting with contacts from networking events.

Join a built-in network

Avoid these and similar mistakes by joining a structured network such as The Alternative Board (TAB). As a TAB member, you gain immediate access to a community of local business leaders and tap into a global network of CEOs and business owners.

TAB Advisory Boards provide members with a local, supportive network of seasoned peers from diverse industries that do not compete with yours. Explore the benefits of joining TAB to broaden your professional network, exchange valuable insights, and benefit from mutual accountability.

Read 19 Reasons you need a Business Advisory Board