Is There Such a Thing as Networking too Aggressively?

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By: Heream Yang / September 23, 2019

I’ve always been a firm believer of go big or go home, but it turns out you may want to approach your networking strategy with a little more discretion. During an on-campus info session I attended for a large advisory firm, the recruiter was asked what her biggest turn-off was when it came to prospective job applicants. Her immediate response was, “overly aggressive networking.” While every industry has its own nuances, here are 5 basic faux pas to avoid to ensure that your networking goes as smoothly as possible.

1) Be considerate of other peoples’ time

The recruiter specifically mentioned that one of her biggest pet peeves was people lingering too long at the end of an info session. If most of the other attendees have left, you should probably take your cue to wrap up the conversation. While most employees are more than happy to talk about their companies, they are busy people, so try to be considerate of their time and that of the other people behind you also seeking to make valuable connections. Think of a few key questions to ask beforehand and get their contact info so you can continue the conversation afterwards

If you’ve ever been to a networking session, you’ve probably encountered that one person who tries to dominate the group conversation. While you should definitely speak up and say what you want to say, make sure everyone else in the group has a chance to talk. Business is all about collaboration, so being a conversation hog definitely does you no favors.

Lastly, try to keep networking calls around 20 minutes. It can be awkward trying to end a conversation on a natural note, so I like to wrap up my calls by asking, “Do you mind if I ask you one more question?” Obviously, if you’re having a really deep conversation or the person you’re speaking with is a close friend, exceptions can be made. However, the general rule is, try to cap the call somewhere around the 15 to 20-minute mark by saying something like, “I don’t want to take up too much more of your time.”

2) Use proper LinkedIn etiquette

Another point the recruiter mentioned is random people reaching out to her on LinkedIn. While there is a lot of controversy surrounding what is and isn’t proper LinkedIn etiquette, think about how it feels to be on the receiving end of a random request. If you have no context for that person, such as mutual connections, a shared alma mater, or a note specifically explaining why you’re reaching out, you’re probably not going to appreciate or accept the request. Read this helpful article about how to send a meaningful LinkedIn request. LinkedIn is a wonderful networking tool, so definitely take advantage of it, but do be mindful of the fact that you’re essentially connecting with a stranger and need to establish a legitimate reason for reaching out.

3) Take it easy on the emails

It can be a tricky situation when you’ve emailed a great potential connection and they just don’t reply. The truth is, people get busy, and they just might have glazed right over your email with all the other important messages flooding their inbox. Don’t take it personally, and do send a follow-up email, but not too soon, or it can seem a bit pushy. The general rule of thumb is to wait at least a week before following up. Make sure to phrase your email in a friendly way, such as, “I know you are very busy, and I just wanted to follow up to see if you were still available for a quick coffee chat.” If they still don’t reply, it’s best to let it go and reach out to someone else with the availability and willingness to connect with you.

4) Quality over quantity

When you first start networking, it can seem like a numbers game. However, you’ll quickly learn that quality trumps quantity and it is much better to have one or two people who will really vouch for you than twenty people who vaguely remember you name from a networking call. It can seem a bit aggressive when someone is randomly reaching out to lots of people at a company, so instead be intentional with your networking efforts and tailor each email to the person you’re contacting. Instead of mass emailing everyone at once, try starting with two to three people, then organically branching out to more people in the company.

5) Don’t ask for a job

It’s common knowledge that people network to further their careers and increase their job opportunities- you know it and the person you’re networking with knows it. However, it can be a bit pushy- and desperate- to ask for a job on the spot. Always have a resume you’re prepared to hand over, either physically or digitally, but refrain from asking for a position. Instead, focus on establishing solid connections that can pay off in the long run. Take on the role of a student and ask a lot of questions that show you’re truly interested in learning more about the industry and company life. Just be genuine, and look for mentors, role models, and advocates.

If you want to learn more about creating a successful networking strategy, read our articles on building connections more effectively and 3 steps to kickstart your networking process. In the meantime, pay it forward and treat other people the way you would want to be treated if you were on the other side, which you will be one day.

What did you think? Let’s chat. Comment below!


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