There are so many mixed messages for women in business. You get this cut-throat, emotionless mentality of "it's just business" drilled at you, and then you're criticized for embodying that. If that's your approach to self-marketing, you might be guilty of some weird networking self-sabotage. See, where most business schools go wrong is ignoring the human element of business. People are people and they want to connect and feel liked and appreciated. Well, most people. It's why advertising works. Yet, we're still told "it's business, not personal" when it comes to our own connections.
If you're going with the whole "all business" mentality, you're missing the true heart of networking, which isn't about what you can gain but how you can help each other, according to career website ZipRecruiter. Once you cut past the business and get to the heart of people, explore what you have in common and delve into how you can be of service, then you'll start making those lasting connections that help your career take off. Otherwise, you'll just get relegated to the long, long, long, list of forgettable people who just wanted to network for their own personal gain.
If you're striking out in the networking game, even if you're making an effort to connect, make sure you're not committing any of these weird mistakes.
1. You Forgot To Wash Off The Slime
Transactional networking, or the practice of lining up meetings and lunches with a specific goal in mind (finding a job, for example) is kind of a slimy practice, according to the Harvard Business Review. True networking is about making real, meaningful connections, and your networking targets aren't likely to feel the love (or want to help you) if they know you're just talking to them because you want something.
2. You're Not Offering To Take Out Their Metaphorical (Or Literal) Trash
Deep down, everyone knows that networking is partially about how you can benefit from your network. But that also means network members need to benefit from you, according to business and writing coach Jeff Goins. You have to offer as much, if not more, than you take. And your mere existence/skill set doesn't count. It's not a benefit to most people just to know you. You have to do things like tweeting people's articles, recommending them for opportunities, granting favors, and talking them up without expecting anything in return.
3. You Didn't Ask About Their Dog
You should think of networking more as friend building. Well, acquaintance building is probably more accurate. People will remember you and want to continue a relationship with you if they like you on more than a work level. That means not just talking shop, according to Dr. Ivan Misner, business networking blogger. It means finding common interests and getting to know one another.
4. You Think They Care About Your Spreadsheets
Do you want to talk to someone who just drones on about themselves forever? Yeah, neither does the person you're trying to network with. In fact, they'll probably stop listening and start going over their to-do list in their heads not long after you start yammering. You need to listen as much, if not more, than you talk. You need to stop being selfish and self-absorbed and focus on the fact that you're building a partnership, not a fan cub.
5. You Have Emotional Tantrums
Teacher, best-selling author, and writing coach Julia Cameron said that when you become jealous of another person's success, it's just your inner self/child crying out in an effort to push you toward your own goals. You don't really want that person to fail, you just also want to succeed. Jealousy is bad in networking. You may think you're coming off as hungry and eager to attain your networking partner's level of success, but it really makes you look untrustworthy.
6. You Won't Leap
You probably know a lot of people who are more successful than you at your own game, even though they're clearly less talented. The reason is likely because they're brave. Success is often less about talent and more about determination. If you're not ruled by fear, you may be crippled by perfectionism. If you want to get unstuck and really take off in your career, you need to stick your neck out and just do it. It can be hard for perfectionists to do and learn as they go as opposed to waiting to start until they've learned, but that's how it's done. You have to learn to look forward to failure. As Cameron says, "leap and the net will appear."
Approaching your career from a more service-oriented perspective will open the doors you need opened so you can leap into your proverbial net. Or fly above it.