Many people assume that once workers become executives, networking is no longer necessary. According to a survey by Robert Half Management Resources, this misconception often extends to higher-ups themselves who undervalue networking as they advance in their careers.
The survey also revealed that those who network face pitfalls, no matter how experienced they might be. Here are five common networking mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Not asking for help
Often people worry about imposing on others and are unsure of themselves. As a result, they avoid seeking help from others. This does more harm than good, even if they think they're saving their pride.
"We all need guidance from time to time, and people are usually happy to offer support when they can," said Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources.
2. Failing to keep in touch or reaching out only when they need something
Business relationships may differ from personal relationships, but the rules still apply: If your businesses associates only hear from you when you need something from them, you'll soon find your requests for help going unanswered.
According to the survey, sending a friendly email or forwarding an interesting blog post keeps connections strong. That way, it won't be awkward or one-sided the next time you ask for help.
3. Taking a narrow view of your potenital network
Many professionals, executives and entry-level workers alike limit the scope of their networking to people in the same field and those who are at the same stage in their career.
Connect with professionals at all levels and across many fields rather than sticking to the comfort of industry peers or former colleagues. It's useful to have access to perspectives different from your own, and you may discover unexpected opportunities for applying your skills and knowledge.
4. Not thanking contacts when they provide help
Failing to thank contacts can come across as rude, as though you are taking the person's assistance for granted. By not acknowledging and thanking your contacts, you risk jeopardizing your relationships and reputation. A simple "thank you" might sound trivial, but it goes a long way in the business world.
5. Not helping others
A reciprocal business relationship is hard to come by. There's rarely a perfect match between what two professionals need and can provide for one another at a given time. However, most people can find someone, somewhere, to help.
When you develop a reputation for reaching out and giving, people are inclined to do the same for you. Not to mention you create new contacts when you offer yourself to others, which never hurts.
This survey was based on the responses of more than 2,200 CFOs to identify the most common networking mistakes among executives.