According to U.S News and World Report, over 70% of people land jobs through networking. Networking is key to advancing your career or business. When done correctly, it can result in a new position, contract or worthwhile business deal. When done ineffectively, though, it can lead to wasted time or –– far worse –– a bad first impression. At the core of good networking is effective relationship building, which means fostering meaningful conversations and focusing on the person to whom you are speaking. In turn, you’ll have the opportunity to share who you are and, in the process, uncover potential opportunities.
Take your networking to the next level by avoiding these common mistakes people make when attempting to build their networks.
1. Don't Wait To Be Approached
Avoid playing shy. You might not usually approach strangers, but networking events provide the perfect cover for you to initiate a conversation. Start by asking open-ended questions like, "What do you enjoy most about X?" or "Why did you get involved with Y?" And don’t let the conversation stop at the event. Instead, follow up, because most people won't. Send a quick email thanking your new contact, and if you’re looking to meet up again, mention it then.
2. Don't Be Inauthentic
Avoid superficial conversations by cultivating curiousity. The wider your range of interests, the more capable you'll be of staying true to yourself while allowing the conversation to go where it may. The best way to appear interesting is to be interesting. Conversations will only get awkward once you begin overthinking and stepping outside yourself.
3. Don't Be Self-Centered
Avoid framing every interaction in terms of how you might benefit. Instead, look at the initial conversation as the start of a relationship that you’ll need to water to grow. The fruits of networking sometimes take several seasons to develop. Be faithful in cultivating authentic relationships centered around mutual interests.
T.D. Jakes is a charismatic leader, visionary, provocative thinking, entrepreneur and compassion humanitarian with a voice that has reverberated from the world's most prominent stages. His look at life comes from the perspective of a father, a student, a pastor and a friend. His daytime talk show will be premiering this fall across the nation.Follow @tdjakesshow on Twitter!