There is a lot of etiquette when it comes to networking. Do this, don’t do that … it’s a lot to remember and take in.
At the end of the day … it’s important to remember that networking is nothing more than 2 people connecting because they like each other, have mutual interests, might want to work together and might be able to help each other out.
Which is why there are a few things around networking the drive me nuts. And it’s nothing to do with how you introduce yourself or whether you choose to have business cards or not. I’m talking things that commonly happen which simply don’t make sense from a behaviour point of view.
So I’ve compiled my top 5 things that drive me nuts when networking.
5 // The person who just wants a job or to sell you something.
It’s a common story. You get a LinkedIn connection from someone you don’t know. You have a quick look at their profile – a few common connections, nothing too suss about them. You’re in a good mood, so you accept.
5 minutes later. BOOM. A direct message in your inbox either asking you for a job or wanting to sell you something.
It drives me nuts. I normally swear. And then I make a point of removing the connection.
This isn’t Tinder people, where you swipe someone you fancy and hope that things work out from there. If you want to do the hard sell on me – do it via email. LinkedIn is a tool I value for creating connections … and if the first thing you are doing in our relationship is asking me to buy something or give you a job … it says you have no value in our relationship.
If you wouldn’t walk up to someone at a networking event and say “give me a job” or “buy my stuff” then don’t do it online.
4 // The person obsessed with vanity metrics.
When did LinkedIn connections become a badge of honour? And what value is there in connecting to a stranger just so you can boast about the number of connections you have?
If you wanted to randomly look up people – the search functionality in LinkedIn is pretty good anyway – you don’t have to be connected to them all.
I joined linked in on March 15, 2004. I’m proud that I was a reasonably early adopted of the platform. To date I only have 980 contacts. Until a few years ago, I absolutely refused to connect to people I didn’t know.
I’m a bit more lax on those rules these days – but I still consider each connection request and nix at least half of them that come in.
Which is why it drives me nuts when people boast about having 1000s of connections. Or not even being able to accept more connections because they have already maxed the system out.
All that means is that you have made an incredibly powerful tool useless, because sifting through your “stranger” connections to find your “real” connections is both time consuming and difficult.
Don’t connect for the sake of connecting.
3 // The person who isn’t willing to invest in some effort.
Here’s the fun one.
I received an email from someone wanting to enquire about an internship. They recently attended one of our genYOU events and loved it. The flattery continued … they told me how important genYOU is and what a difference we’re making.
My ego is pandered. Not bad, you’ve grabbed my attention.
What do I do next? I check out if the flatter is just lip service – or if they are genuine.
Have they subscribed to our Career Hacks? If so, do they open the emails and click on the articles?
Do they follow us on social? Have they interacted with any posts recently? Was that the one and only event that they have been to, or have they been coming to more things?
Very often, the answer is no. And it drives me nuts.
I’m not expecting you to be our #1 fan … it’s okay if you have only done a few of them. But I’m just looking to see that you are being genuine, and have made an effort and you aren’t just trying to flatter me because you desperately need an internship.
2 // The person who appears too perfect.
When you are networking, your goal is to put your best foot forward. We get it, and we all do it.
We want to appear to be 100% put together humans.
But let’s get real for a moment.
Strive as we might, none of us are perfect, and there is nothing more intimidating or weird than coming across as the person who is seemingly perfect.
Look them up and according to LinkedIn they are involved in about 50 clubs at uni, have done at least 20 internships, achieve super high GPAs and have worked throughout their degree.
It screams alarm bells – and whether I’m reading it on your profile or listening to you pitch yourself to me … I have sirens going off in my head.
What’s wrong? Why are they so perfect? How are they managing it all?
We’re human, people. And joking aside, when I do come across these people, two things normally go through my head:
a) They must be lying. This is more physically possible – there aren’t that many hours in a day.
b) If this is true … they are really overdue a breakdown. And I don’t want to have to clean that up.
It’s okay to be human. Actually, strike that. Being human is perfectly awesome. When you graduate you don’t have to have a perfect CV/LinkedIn bio. I’d much rather know that you have done a few things really well, rather than having done lots of things half-assed.
1 // The person who doesn’t follow-up.
I’m going to keep this one short, because it’s really simple.
We meet. We chat. I tell you about an opportunity and I also tell you either how to apply or to drop me a line tomorrow, so that I can give you further info.
You seem keen. I’m keen.
And then. Nothing. Crickets.
You didn’t follow up … until 2 weeks later. You were busy. You had an assignment. You forgot.
IT DRIVES ME NUTS.
Opportunities need to be seized. Grab them whilst they are there and in front of you. Because they are also fleeting. And whilst 2 weeks may seem like no time … in my world it’s an eternity and even if the opportunity is still available, chances are, I’m going to rule you out of the running because you didn’t seem to care that much.