Studies for the past 40 years have reported that between 45% and 70% of all jobs are found through networking, yet most career seekers spend a minor portion of their job search time networking. If you are a typical seeker, then the first reason networking is hurting your career is because you are not doing enough of it. Do more… and you can uncover more opportunities sooner.
I enjoy networking and make it a part of my activities on an ongoing basis, mostly meeting one on one with other business people and entrepreneurs. After twelve years of consistent networking, I seek to limit the amount of time I spend with job seekers because they tend to be too self-focused (I am being polite). Just last week, I had a two hour meeting in which the seeker spoke about himself and his situation almost the entire time. So, if you are a typical career seeker, the second reason networking is hurting your career is because you are too self-centered and turn people off. Be more balanced in your networking discussions… and you will develop more interpersonal rapport sooner.
Most career seekers lack clear goals for their networking. They meet and talk, then leave with parting comments such as “If you hear of an opportunity that you think would fit me, please let me know.” So, if you are a typical career seeker, the third reason networking is hurting your career is because you are not making effective requests for action from the people you meet. Ask for introductions to specific, useful contacts… and you will connect with new quality people who increase your odds of success.
When you request someone to meet with you in person or chat over the phone, they expect you to have an agenda. Most career seekers, however, don’t. They have rambling, casual conversations that tend to lead nowhere. So, if you are a typical career seeker, the fourth reason networking is hurting your career is because you fail to have a pre-planned agenda that guides your conversations. In the networking chapter of my career book, I recommend a simple and effective four stage agenda for your networking meetings and calls … warm them up, seek to identify ways to help the other person, discuss your needs and get useful introductions, and recap who has what action items to be accomplished in what time frames. Follow this recipe… and you will better insure your meetings are more effective.
Your follow through (or lack thereof) during your networking gives people ideas as to how organized you are. Most career seekers fail to follow up in a timely manner or do so in an unprofessional manner, which makes them wonder if this will be your behavior with others such as contacts to which they introduce you. So, if you are a typical career seeker, the fifth reason networking is hurting your career is because you don’t follow through in a timely or professional manner. Improve your behaviors in this important area… and you will generate results sooner.
While I could give several other reasons your networking may be hurting your career based upon networking with hundreds of career seekers, this is a good sampling of some of the more notable things to consider when you next decide to put yourself out there.