9 Don’ts While Networking as a Young Professional

Networking is integral to any professional experience, but learning how to navigate these situations can be overwhelming. To help, I’ve compiled a list of what you should absolutely avoid while networking:

  1. Don’t go in without a plan: Approach a potential opportunity to network with the same diligence and preparedness that you would apply to any other professional situation. Determine what your objectives are before entering a given situation. Are you aiming to connect with a specific individual or organization or just to socialize? Know before you go.
  2. Don’t be short-sighted: Oftentimes, you don’t have an immediate goal when networking, but down the line, your professional needs will materialize. Networking is building, so create a solid professional base now to give you leverage when you need it down the line.
  3. Don’t be overly confident: You’re new to the game. You should be poised, collected, and excited to meet and gain inspiration from experienced professionals. Have respect for individuals who work where you may want to one day. Never exude self-importance.
  4. Don’t be excessively forward with requests: Being ambitious and goal-oriented is important, but immediately putting pressure on new connections to give of themselves or their resources will alienate them. Don’t be aggressive.
  5. Don’t get too personal: While networking is a social endeavor, remember that it should always bear professional overtones. Don’t spill your secrets or share too much about your personal life because it may make your conversations uncomfortable. Also, don’t pry into the private lives of those with whom you’re conversing.
  6. Don’t be insecure: Remember that you are a young professional, that you do have a lot to offer, and that you do have goals. Don’t be timid in your conversations or fawn over seasoned professionals. Learning from their experiences is most important.
  7. Don’t don field-blinders: Never pass up the opportunity to meet anyone, whether he or she works in your current or desired field of work or not. Conversations with individuals who offer different perspectives on issues you care about can expand your knowledge.
  8. Don’t forget to follow up: If you do make a connection, following up is key. Don’t make empty promises if you don’t intend to circle back to them. Reach out via phone, e-mail, or LinkedIn.
  9. And, finally… don’t spend all your time at the bar: Don’t isolate yourself and only keep the company of alcoholic beverages. You’ll be missing out on making helpful contacts, or get to them after one too many…