The Seven Deadly Sins of Networking

Kevin and I were recently invited to be guest speakers for the Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce (DJCC) monthly meeting. After sharing some wine with our good friends Emily Hoad and Doug Lemme, current leaders in the DJCC, we knew we wanted to help our young professionals improve their networking skills. And hence, the Seven Deadly Sins of Networking were born!

Fortunately, other international trainers within Junior Chamber International had already harvested educational materials and activities to help others improve their networking skills.

So what are the seven deadly sins of networking, you ask? They are as follows:

  1. Unprofessional Image – Under dressed for the occasion
  2. Lack of Preparation – No goals set re: who to meet, how many new contacts to make, etc.
  3. Staying within Your Comfort Zone – Go to an event and just hang out with friends
  4. Talking About Me – Not letting the other person get a word in
  5. Lack of Focus – Not listening and paying attention to things like Blackberry, iPhone, etc.
  6. Poor Business Card Etiquette – Giving your card versus asking for the other’s
  7. Lack of Follow Up – While you may not need the contact today, you still don’t try to build the relationship post the meeting

It was great to see attendees identify where they “sin” and look for ways to improve. And, most sinning, as I would expect, occurred outside of the networking event – either lacking any preparation/goal setting for the event or following up with contacts made.

The biggest thing professionals need to remember that “networking” is a mindset, not a skill set. Mind over matter to get out of your comfort zone, prepare and meet new people to meet your long term goals. Also remember that you need to be building your network when you don’t need it as a network matures over time and won’t grow over night.

So where do you sin the most? Are there networking sins we are missing? What do you recommend people do to begin to improve to become networking saints?

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