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Networking Sins

I ran across this article about networking sins a while back and have had it on my list to share. I think it’s an ok list, but based on what I see with networking on LinkedIn (my current tool of choice) I don’t see much abuse. The biggest thing that bothers me (and I’ve mentioned before) is the recommend me/I’ll recommend you thing, and that’s not intrusive to the parties involved, I’m just not sure it’s a good idea. I think I get one request for an introduction every 3 months. Maybe I don’t know the right people! The challenge there is that you can see that I’m linked to someone, but no idea of the strength of the relationship, which can put you in the odd position of knowing the requestor will enough, but not knowing the target of the introduction as well. Still, to me that falls well short of a sin.

But it got me thinking, what are the mistakes that everyone makes? I think most of us are fairly forgiving about networking mistakes – especially in person – but it would be nice to build the list and work on ways to avoid it. And not all mistakes are active, I’ve learned the hard way that being passive and just not actively participating in a group conversation can send the wrong impression.

So, I’ll start with that one, and hoping you’ll share your own mistakes (because it’s not nice to point out flaws in others!)

#1 – Standing with a group that is talking and not participating in the conversation reasonably actively


I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.


Posted by Wesley Brown on 16 September 2009

5.  Using a social network without knowing how it works

It's taken me a long time to adapt to the new rapidly changing social networking stuff. I just started with twitter after two attempts of just watching to try and figure out what the heck to do with it.

I have made some mistakes with Linkedin by adding people I didn't really know and linkedin doesn't allow you to remove them.

I rejected people I didn't know at all and got chewed out for that since it reflected negatively on them.

After that I've been very slow to do any of the other social networking stuff until I have a grasp on it.

Posted by Steve Jones on 16 September 2009

I'm not sure there's one way things work. I see people using LinkedIn, FB, etc. in different ways.

The thing I'd say is a mistake, kind of building on a few items in the link, is that people seem to overuse or underuse their networking abilities. Some people assume because you shook their hand or accepted a business card that you are willing to recommend them or are a longtime friend.

Others are afraid to ask for anything.

I think that it's worth following up with people that you bond with and build a relationship, but understand that it takes some time and effort.

Posted by Robert Pearl on 16 September 2009

I definately see LinkedIN as one of the most powerful networking tools to date, and don't think everyone uses it to its full potential.  I don't even know how to fully use it, but have been very active on it as of late.  It's a great way to find folks in the professional world and reach out them.  

I see FB as more of a family oriented scrapbook social gathering, teenage and clubby meeting site.  Although, I've seen professional folks requesting that I join them on FB, and a lot of companies are starting to sprout up there.

By far, LinkedIN is more professional and serious in nature, and all around a great virtual meeting place for professionals, finding a job,makeing business contacts, etc. etc.

One possible thing to be careful is who you allow into your network, as LinkedIN states "Why its important to know who you add"  Every member in your network will see all your updates, connections, profile, groups, etc. - so that's one caveat worth heeding (maybe a potential sin? :-) - RP

Posted by Stuart R Ainsworth on 17 September 2009

#2 I think the inverse of this is being a social butterfly, or networking for the sole reason of beign connected.  It's a good thing to meet new people, but you shouldn't make that your only purpose.  Networks need to be both wide AND deep, and by depth I mean you should have developed rich relationships with a few key individuals.

I'm not sure if this makes much sense, but my point is that networks are made of acquaintences, associates, and friends; you have to some of each, but you need to foster all of them.

Posted by Andy Warren on 17 September 2009

Stuart, I get your point, but what is the downside of being a social butterfly networker? I haven't seen any place where it causes pain on either side yet.

Posted by Blythe Morrow on 22 September 2009

#3. Being overly negative in an introductory conversation.

If you're networking, try to leave the people you talk to feeling better than they did before they met you. It triggers a subconcious desire to talk to you again. This includes positive (open) body languge vs. negative (closed) body language.

Posted by gabriel.raymer on 25 September 2009

Social networking has been my saving grace. I had a 10 yr. detour in my computer career, when I joined the military, and in the infinite wisdom of the military they made me a mechanic. Without having contacts available to me it would've made the transition back to IT and development even more difficult.

I didn't know that on Linkedin it reflected negatively on people if you didn't add them. That's a curious notion. I see Linkedin as a way of collecting business cards, without the excessive bulk of hard copy. However, it would be nice to toss a business card (contact) without anyone losing face.

Also, to the point of body language, it definitely impacts communication. Since my wife is deaf it's amazing the things that I'm able to notice in conversations now that I'm more aware of body language. However, you've also got to be aware of people's culture and what the body language translate to.

I guess an overall view on social activity 'links' back into what Wesley was talking about. Get to know the tool and culture before you take the wrong action.

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