The Art of Project Management: Expert advice from experienced project managers in Silicon Valley, and around the world
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How To Suck At Networking

In one of the lessons in my Project Management Career Coaching Course I highlight some common networking mistakes people make.

Check it out.

1 – Dont’ Be Organized

The less organized you are, the more likely you will do something stupid like double-book yourself and have to reschedule a meeting.

If you look like you don’t know up from down, you are unlikely to make a good impression on the other party.

2 – Don’t Respect Their Time

Be on time.

Be as concise as possible — don’t spend an hour telling them your life story.

Networking is about communicating, and that’s a two-way street.

I’ll talk about gratitude later, but you really have to think about this.

If someone has agreed to meet you for coffee or lunch or is taking time to answer your questions, you should be grateful. One way to do that is to truly understand that they have a busy life just like everyone else, and they have taken some of that time and given it to you.

It’s a gift all wrapped up in a pretty box with a bow. If you don’t treat it that way, don’t expect them to get to like and trust you.

3 – Be Lazy

Be engaged. Be sincerely involved and take the time and effort to make a great impression on people.

Do some research ahead of time about whatever topic you are going to discuss. Maybe you want to ask them about their role and their company.

Research that company as much as you can before hand.

If you’ve worked with them before, do you remember the specifics of the projects you worked on together?

Brain storm and write down the things about them you remember, especially the positive things. Compliment them on those things you remember them doing well when you worked together.

4 – Be Pushy

Are you coming across to the other person as unrespectful or ‘in it for yourself?’ You’d be surprised by the tone and presumption of  some people when trying to network with other people.

“Can you take my resume to the hiring manager?”

“Tell me about the jobs that are open.”

You know what these questions show your conversation partner? That you are having this conversation strictly for selfish reasons. Especially if you don’t even know someone very well yet, these questions are out of line.

A much more effective approach is to listen and try to come up with ways you can help the other person as much as possible.

Never ask for them to go be your lackey and run around trying to get you a job.

That’s got a great way to start off a new professional relationship.

5 – Show No Gratitude

It never ceases to amaze and displease me how often people show an utter lack of gratitude to other people.

Talk about networking suicide.

If someone is meeting with you, answering your question via email, or introducing you to someone why wouldn’t you say how grateful you are to them for their time and effort?

Even if you disagree with what you heard, it doesn’t matter. Be grateful for their time and attention.

6 – Don’t Follow Up

When you talk to someone and you don’t follow up with them, you lose a lot of opportunity to strengthen the professional relationship you’ve started.

Even if it’s just an email or call to see how they are doing, put some kind of system in place to remind yourself to follow up with them and maintain your professional relationships.

Are you doing any of these?

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About the Author

Josh helps new and aspiring project managers reach their career goals. He has been managing projects in Computing, Financial Services, Telecommunications, and Aerospace for over a decade. Josh’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Science degree in Project Management and he is PMP certified. The best method for tapping into Josh’s knowledge and experience is his training for project management, where Josh shares his best practices for how to get ahead in your project management career and his best practices in specific project management processes.
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