Today I read an blog post by Karen Burns, author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Carer Advice You Can Actually Use, about the 50 Worst of the Worst (and most common) Job Interview Mistakes.
Some of the mistakes are pretty obvious, some are shocking (would anyone actually think about lighting up a cigarette in an interview???) Other mistakes were more modern, like forgetting to remove your Bluetooth earpiece. No, this is not an acceptable piece of jewelry nor is it a modern accessory. You look pretty foolish when you wear it on an interview (or in the grocery store). It shouts “Look at me. I’m important. I’m cool.”
My motivation of re-posting this insightful article is to ask you to read through this list of the worst of the worst mistakes with an eye towards networking and relationship building. Some of these same mistakes occur when we network with other people.
These unconscious behaviors and negative actions can put a real damper on the conversation and can ruin any first impression that you hope to make. The results: it is unlikely that you will develop a long-term, mutually-beneficial relationship with the person you are networking with. More likely you will create the “yuck” response. That is the opposite of the law of attraction; it is the law of repulsion.
As your networking coach, let me point out a few of the bad habits and mistakes from Ms. Burns’ list that are also relevant to your success in networking and relationship building.
Don’t do these things while networking:
- #1 Arriving late. Strive to be a timely person when networking. This demonstrates your respect for the other person and shows that you are an organized, together person. If you are running late, make sure you communicate your situation. Take the person’s cell phone number with you and let them know if you are stuck in traffic, or are running behind. If you are on the receiving side of the late person, strive to be a forgiving person and don’t make a big deal about it. Hold your original time commitment and end the networking meeting or call as originally scheduled. This will be the natural consequence for the tardy person – less time with wonderful you!
- #7. Forgetting the name of the person that you are networking with. Try to use the person’s name at least three times in your conversation. This will help you remember the person’s name. It also serves to draw the other person in. It’s a basic technique for rapport building. There is no sweeter sound on earth than the sound of your own name.
- # 10 Wearing a Bluetooth earpiece and #49 leaving your cell phone on while networking. I suggest that you remove all gadgets and power down, so that your total attention is on the person you are networking with. This action will prevent you from being distracted and will send a powerful message of “I care about you” to the other person.
- #22 failing to listen carefully to what the other person is saying; #23 Talking more than half the time; #24 Interrupting the other person. All very bad behavior pretty much in any context, networking or otherwise. This very common mistake can be easily corrected. It’s called “stop talking and start listening.” How can you expect to learn something new if you are dominating the conversation? Find the mute button on your personal vocal dashboard and practice your skills of observation.
- #26 Yawning. This signals boredom and disinterest. If you haven’t slept well or missed your caffeine jolt this morning, let the person know your situation, so they don’t misinterpret your action and take it personally. Find ways to energize your body (I like to do a quick set of 10 push ups to get the blood pumping; although this can be a little awkward in a coffee shop)
- #35 Shaking hands too weakly, or too firmly. Handshakes help to set the first and last impression and can either bring you closer or send a quick warning sign. Practice your professional handshake. Make sure you connect “web to web” – no gaps or misses. Read the article Get a Grip on the value of a professional handshake.
- #36 Failing to make eye contact (or making continuous eye contact). Eye contact is part of your non-verbal communication. It sends powerful messages about your personal confidence, your interest in the other person, and also your attention span. Your goal is to put the other person at ease with you. Find the right level and style of eye contact to achieve this outcome.
- #40 Complaining about anything! No one likes to spend time with negative people, so don’t be one. Remember what your mother told you: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” That is not to say we don’t want you to be honest, open, candid and real when you network, just make sure you balance the energy and conversation. Too much negative is just that. Negative.
- #47 Oversharing. Although I am a firm believer that you need to bring your whole human being and your authentic self to networking, you do want to be careful how and when you share what. Don’t create a burden for other people that you don’t know well by dumping your deepest darkest secrets on them in the first meeting. Save this for later. Much later. Or save it for someone more appropriate (i.e., your therapist, your priest, your diary.)
- #50 Failing to ask for help. I do not advocate asking for a job during an initial networking meetings. This can come off as a transaction. However, I do strongly advocate that you know and communicate with people specifically what you are looking for/needing and how they can help you. The more specific you can get about what/who you are looking to meet, the more likely you are to get it. Make it easy for people to help you by being very specific about what you need/want.
What other mistakes have you experienced during networking? (either on the receiving end, or the side of error) Please share your mistakes, insights and advice here for others to benefit from.