Networking should help, not hurt your job search. Steer clear of these top common networking mistakes. [TWEET]

There’s simply no better technique to promote yourself than by networking with colleagues in your industry. Through word of mouth, those connections will speak on your behalf, recommend you when a job opportunity becomes available, or even contact you before a position is made public. However, if approached incorrectly, your networking efforts could prove to be fruitless and even hurt your job-search efforts.

Here are four of the most common networking mistakes professionals make and what you can do to avoid them.

Networking Mistake #1: Peddling your resume to everyone you meet.

Many people have a difficult time talking about themselves and promoting their professional achievements during networking events. This, in of itself, is a mistake. After all, how will the people you meet understand your value if you don’t promote your talents and interests?

But there’s a fine line between talking about your skills with confident and bullishly peddling your talents. The goal is to promote yourself without looking like you’re trying to promote yourself. Confused yet? Stay with me, I promise it will make sense soon. Let’s look at an example:

Jon Doe is at a college career fair. He goes around pitching his resume and all the awards he’s piled up, making sure no one will forget him.

On the other side of the conference hall, his sister Jane Doe tries another tactic. She starts the dialogue by asking about the company and its mission. She then works her interests, contributions and achievements into the conversation.

Jane Doe promoted herself without being viewed as an overly pushy salesperson. Jon Doe committed the most dangerous networking mistake – acting as though he is the best and only candidate for the job. When you find yourself slipping into John Doe’s shoes, remind yourself: No one wants to hire an arrogant sales slug.

Networking Mistake #2: Getting too personal.

Talking about your personal life is not necessarily a bad thing, particularly when it may help you find common ground with potential connections. However, save some topics for the bar or gym, once you’ve gotten to know the person better. You don’t need share everything about your career or personality. The general rule of thumb is to avoid sharing personal details about your life unless they are directly related to the job. The trick is understanding where to draw the line and remembering to keep your actions professional. Should they serve alcohol at the event, remember one thing: this is not boys or girls night out. Keep yourself in check.

Networking don’t #3: Leaving your phone and other gadgets on.

When you arrive at an event, turn your mobile devices off. Not on vibrate or on silent – the temptation to answer that text or see what your friend pinned or tweeted is too great - turn it off.

Unless you need to be on call for an emergency, you don’t need to check your cell phone while someone is talking to you. This could cost your dearly. Your goal at every networking event is to have as many meaningful conversations as possible before going on your merry way. You can’t do that when your eyes are glued to your phone. If the temptation is still too great and you find yourself visiting the restroom three or four times to connect, leave the phone in the car or check it with your bag when you arrive.

Networking Mistake #4: Not dressing the part.

Your appearance, from your clothing to your grooming habits and hairstyle, is an extension of your professional brand. Take pride in how you present yourself when you are in the public eye. Research the event to gauge the setting and determine what attire is most appropriate for the event so you don’t stick out like a sore thumb. If you’re unsure how formal the event is, bring a suit jacket (and a tie for the guys) you can throw over your existing outfit to dress it up. Unless the invitation states it as the appropriate dress, do not wear shorts. T-shirts, tennis shoes, and so forth to a professional gathering. Click on the following link for more tips on how to dress to network.

Keep these networking dos and don’ts in mind the next time you attend an event and you’re sure to make the right first impression.

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