I saw a link to an article titled The Terrible Networking Mistake That Almost Everyone Makes. Somehow, I read it as “the worst,” which usually baits me into reading the article because I usually disagree with what some author said is “the worst.”
I think there are more than one “worst” networking mistakes… and somehow, I figured out how to do most of them when in my job search.
But if I had to choose ONE WORST networking mistake that probably everyone makes, it is simply this:
Not following up.
Yes, it’s a not a good idea to give an introduction without asking for permission from the person you are introducing to… perhaps that is terrible (it can be more terrible with certain contacts than with other contacts).
And there are other terrible networking mistakes we all make… but the I think the worst thing we do while “networking” is simply not following up.
Follow-up is hard. How do we keep track of all the people we meet, when we should follow-up, and what we follow-up about? JibberJobber comes in, but even with a great system, it can be hard to keep track of everything (especially if you didn’t put their name in in the first place!).
Follow-up can be embarrassing. If you are shy (aka, introverted), you might feel embarrassed. What if you say the wrong thing? What if you don’t remember what you were supposed to follow-up with? How embarrassing it could be to say “um, we talked a couple of weeks ago, and I know we were supposed to talk again, but I can’t remember what we talked about… “
Follow-up can be inconvenient. If I have a gazillion other things to do on my list, and all of them are way easier than following-up with someone, guess what I’m going to do first…
Follow-up is risky. What if they say no, spit in your face, print your email and read it out loud to all their friends while laughing at you, or reach through the phone and punch you in the face? Oh wait, most of those are highly unlikely to happen… but still, someone might say no. My advice? Be ready for a yes, be ready for a no, be gracious and don’t burn any bridges. As sales professionals say, no means “not yet.” Definitely don’t let them define you, or affect your morale. Just move on.
Keith Ferrazzi wrote that 95% of people don’t follow-up… many times, I’ve been a part of that 95% number. Other times I’ve gotten over the excuses, humbled myself to the point of being able to hear “no,” or saying “can you remind me why we’re talking?”, or chosen to do the follow-up instead of the 20 easier things on my list (like writing a blog post :p), and I’ve followed-up.
Amazing things happen when you follow-up.
My challenge to you, this week, is to follow-up with someone. Be one of the 5 percenters who actually do it. And do it again, and again, and again, and see what happens to your networking. See what happens to your attitude, and your morale, and your job search efforts.