Networking is a great move for your career, we cannot seem to reiterate this point enough. However, as is normal with human interaction, we are bound to make mistakes which might hinder us from getting the most value out of a situation.
In this case, since you already know why networking is essential to building your career, we want to make sure you get the most value out of these professional interactions. To maximize the opportunities networking opens up, you will have to avoid scaring off potential professional contacts on your first meet. A remarkable first impression is the way to go here.
Here are a few things to avoid during networking conversations;
- Personal Problems
We already made it clear that this is a professional environment, there is therefore no room for your romantic relationship problems or any other personal issues you may be having. As healthy as it is to share your problems, this is not the right place for it so do avoid coming off as someone who is too burdened with personal issues.
Your first few conversations should be more like small talk; getting to know about your mutual interests (professionally). You may indeed be overwhelmed by personal problems but you need to remember that there is a time and place, and this is not it.
2. Controversial topics like Religion or Politics
As entitled as you are to your own beliefs and political affiliations, we would advise that you avoid conversations around religion or politics when networking.
“What if they share in my beliefs though?” is a valid question but you have to also consider the alternative, you do not want to get into some unnecessarily heated argument about how APC is better than PDP at an event where you are supposed to be making connections.
You may however find yourself in a situation where someone brings up these topics, it would be advisable to politely refuse to offer your opinion and move on to other topics. Chances are, you will end up having a long-term relationship with some of these people and somewhere along the line, these discussions will definitely come up, better to wait till then.
You may be that person who “knows a guy” and has all the inside scoop on everyone’s personal life, even the Linda Ikejis Nigerian gossip blogs have got nothing on you. Regardless of your need to share, it would be in your best interest to avoid dishing all of this information out when networking.
You want to be seen as someone who can be trusted with company and professional secrets which means coming off as a busybody or a blabber mouth is not what you want to grow your career.
Listen more than you speak, even when you think you may know more. No matter how casual and free the conversation gets, you are still in an environment that may break or make your reputation, you want to tread carefully.
Remember that networking events are not so different from interviews, you want to be as impressive as possible which means there is no room for talking about how every weekend you and your friends like to go club hopping and drinking. You also want to avoid lying for whatever reason. Trustworthy is the reputation you are looking to maintain.
Avoiding some of these things may seem difficult but since your career is priority, you want to make sure you’ve got all your bases covered.
Here are a few more helpful tips for you.
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