There are certain faux-pas to be avoided at all costs when it comes to networking. I am here to let you in on them.
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1. DON'T Ghost the person in your network
After reaching out to someone in your network, don't just ghost them or disappear, even if you have had a change in plans. Doing the disappearing act will likely damage your relationship and make it harder to connect with the person in the future. Most of these professional circles are quite small.
Keep the person updated on where you are at. If they respond to you requesting your CV, reply within 24 hours with an up-to-date CV while you are still on their radar. Any longer than that and they will have moved on to another priority. If you email and don't hear a response back, send a nudge a week later.
2. DON'T be desperate
Desperation has never been a good look on anything and networking is certainly no different. The thing about desperation is that it leaves a really negative impression. It tells the potential employer or the person in your network that you are not really interested in the position, you just want a job. This also says you are not really committed and the minute you get something better you will jump ship. While this may be true, it wont get you past the interview stage. Also, when you're desperate you can't really negotiate the best deal out of a situation.
DO: Take care of your 4 walls
If you are really in need of a job, any job, then take care of your four walls as Dave Ramsey says. Find a job that will help you pay your bills, take care of the family and get you out of desperation mode. Stabilize yourself so that your immediate needs are met. Once you have that, step up your job search and job hunt with a targeted approach for a job that aligns with your competencies and your skills
3. DON'T waste time
The people you are reaching out to in your network are most likely very busy and therefore don't have a lot of time to read lengthy stories in your introductory email. If your message is too wordy it will just put people off and reduce the chances of them responding to you.
DO: K.I.S.S. - Keep It Short and Sweet
Get straight to the point by first introducing yourself, providing a line or two about how you got their contact and state your ask - why are you reaching out. If you would like to learn more about the company then state just that and then let them know when you would like to hear from them and close off.
4. DON'T Bad mouth your employer or co-workers
Regardless of whether you left or are trying to leave a toxic situation, there is no point of dragging the employer's name in the mud. This will actually speak more negatively of you than of the previous person and will leave a potential employer thinking that you are quite unprofessional.
DO: Keep professional - always! You don't need to lie about the really negative experience but instead focus on the lessons you learned from this or the takeaways that you had. Be clear that you are looking to move on because the current context is not ideal for your growth. There are many ways to describe the previous employer in a professional manner without name calling.
5. DON'T ask for a job
This one seems counter-intuitive. You are looking for a job, why wouldn't you ask for a job? This comes back to that question of desperation. Asking for a job directly is quite cringe-worthy, almost like asking for money from a friend/family member. By asking for a job directly you set yourself up to be turned down. It is almost as bad as someone asking you to marry them when you just said hello, and while romantic movies may idealize this, you would shoot the person down figuratively in real life.
DO: Share what you have to offer
Flip the tables by knowing your worth and highlighting what value you could add to a company or a potential employer. Let folks in your network know of the skills/competencies that you have to offer - this will make their heads begin to make connections on who they could put you in touch with and also cause them to assess how they could incorporate your skills in their current teams even if they don't have a specific position for you. Plus the cardinal rule of networking and career development is...
Relationship, relationship, relationship
Nurture those professional relationships. Reach out to folks when you are not actively searching. Keep connecting with people and building upon those connections.
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