As an Executive Coach with over 30 years of experience, I’m continually asked, “Why isn’t my networking working?” Here are a few things for networkers to check up on.
1. Using Spam Blockers
You have one of those “spam blockers” on your e-mail that requires people to fill out a form and ask for your permission before your e-mail will go through. Disable it now! If you’re job hunting and employers want to reach you, forget it if you make them work to get to you. There are plenty of other candidates out there who aren’t as fussy as you are. Put up with a little spam to make life easier for those you want to hear from — or you probably won’t hear from them.
2. Giving Out Your Home Phone Number
Having a home phone number that is answered by other people. Make sure your networking information only has a cell phone — and you answer it promptly and check messages frequently — if you have anyone living at your house other than you. This includes a spouse, who may either forget to give you an important message, or become aggressive in trying to “help” you get the job. Make sure you and only you have control over your phone.
3. Having An Unprofessional Voice Message
“Hi there. We’re making mad passionate love right now, but we’d love to talk to you when we’re done,” or, my favorite, “They’re coming to take me away… hee, haha, hoohoo, hee” is very funny for your closest friends (maybe), but inappropriate for employers to hear. And, folks, your child on the answering machine is cute only to you, and, perhaps, the grandparents. No one else wants to hear it.
4. Not Having Business Cards
If you don’t have them, get them now. Make sure your name, a mailing address, phone number and e-mail are all on there. Have 1,000 made. Don’t use those flimsy computer printer cards. You can print your own if you have a very good printer and use heavy cardstock, but get them professionally cut (about $6.00).
5. Not Having A Personal Branding Statement
Do you have a concise statement of who you are and what you do? While you may do many things in life and in your employment, if you can’t be put into a mental “box” in about 30 seconds people will write you off. Be sure you can pinpoint what your main professional function in life is. If you can’t, get help.
6. Dressing Inappropriately For Networking Events
Dressing inappropriately for networking events. Obviously, you’re going to dress differently for a singles event designed to generate dating from a business event designed to generate new business or make professional contacts. Make sure you know the rules of attire for each event, and don’t dress in any way that makes you seem less than professional.
7. Not Mixing And Mingling
Grabbing a table or a corner with your friends and camping out there. You’re there to meet new people. Meet them!
8. Not Watching Your Alcohol Intake
A drink or two can loosen you up enough to network well. Five or six drinks can start a reputation as a lush. Carefully watch your alcohol intake. And keep in mind even the best event has very limited food. Eat before you go to an event to counterbalance the alcohol you’re probably going to consume. One glass of wine on an empty stomach can be too much for some folks.
9. Reeking Of Cigarette Smoke
If you must persist in smoking, please make sure you’re well aired-out before you come into an event. Smoking is a major turn-off for employers, prospective business partners and most of the rest of the sane world.
10. Reeking Of Perfume Or Cologne
I strongly suggest not wearing either perfume or cologne at all, and being incredibly careful about scented hairsprays, lotions and body washes. Many people have severe allergies. Someone who reacts to you by sneezing and coughing in your presence isn’t going to help you in any way. They will avoid you. Of course (see number nine above) if you must continue to smoke, a little cologne smell is probably marginally better than smelling like a stale ashtray. But don’t marinate in it, please!
Photo Credit: Shutterstock