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5 Ways Online Networking Can Go Wrong
Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Now that the digital age has allowed us to connect to anyone anywhere at anytime, networking has become a necessary practice in every job hunt. It's one of the most powerful tools for landing a job when done well. When it isn't, networking can not only be ineffective but also have adverse effects on your job search efforts.

LinkedIn is one of the easiest and most basic forms of online networking, but you should never rely on just one resource to get you to your goal. Since it can be done through a variety of ways, the people you want to reach might be accessed more easily on some networks more than others.

A successful job search is usually the result of good networking skills. In fact, most of your job searching efforts should be dedicated to reaching out to industry professionals. With so much time and effort intended for networking, you don't want it all to be for nought. To help keep your efforts from amounting to a waste of time, here are some things that you should avoid doing:

1) Asking for a job.
Networking for a job does not equate to inquiring about job opportunities. The aspect of building relationships with people is meant to lead to job opportunities. While you might be eager to get quick results, these relationships are meant to benefit all parties therefore the process takes time. Instead of focusing on finding job prospects, try to gear the subject matter toward learning from and helping others in their pursuits. By showing your value as a connection others will be obliging with what they have to offer as well.

2) Using a generic approach.
Asking for some guidance or assistance from people you don't know well is not the easiest task to carry out. Naturally, you'll want to sound formal and professional without sounding like a robot, again, not easy to do. A big problem with reaching out to strangers more or less is that you can end up becoming another blank face to them. Show your personality when you talk to them. Give them a sense of who you are and what you're hoping to achieve with their help. Generic soudning communication is a thing of that past. Standing out requires showing individuality.

3) Only reaching out to those you think have the most influence.
If you're in an entry-level position and you think that reaching out to the head of the company is going to help get you in, you'll be doing this for a long time. Depending on the size of the company, this could work, however, you shouldn't limit yourself to who you reach out to based solely on their title or status. Mid-level professionals can offer just as much help in your situation. They can sometimes be thought of as a sort of liaison between those at the lower end of the company and those higher up.

4) Not using LinkedIn properly.
If you've exhausted all your direct connections (1st), don't neglect using the "introduction" feature.  This will allow you to branch out to your 2nd and 3rd degree connections. It's simply a request for your shared connection to forward your desire to get acquainted with that 2nd or 3rd connection. LinkedIn should not be thought of as a free-for-all to contact whomever you want. Be strategic in how you choose the people to make connections with and you'll have better chances for successful introductions.

5) Asking for too much too soon.
When contacting someone for the first time, it's understandable that you want to paint them a full picture of who you are.This can lead you to bombard them with a lengthy email full of questions and information, which doesn't make it easy for them to help you--so they probably won't. In case you haven't noticed, communication is getting downsized. Instead of thinking in terms of paragraphs and sentences we're now down to character limits. Keep the lines of communication fluid by being brief and succint in your messages; one topic at a time.