Avoid these Networking Pitfalls – Especially when Searching for a Job

Whether you are looking for a job or building your professional relationships for other reasons, be sure to avoid these common networking pitfalls.

Transaction Tony – He’s the guy who contacts you only when he’s between jobs. His approach to networking is narrowly focused on asking people he knows and people they know for help finding a job. He’d be more successful in his job search and after he lands if he broadened his view of networking from a transactional approach to a strategy of building ongoing mutually beneficial relationships.

Heads-down Haley – Hard-working and focused, she has made looking for a job her full-time job. She researches diligently, identifying target industries and companies and applying online to job postings. Good for her. Unfortunately, though, she avoids live conversations, face-to-face meetings and initiating new relationships. If she leveraged her organizational skills and the people she already knows, she’d likely uncover more leads and increase her odds in getting interviews. She’d also make more positive connections with decision-makers at the companies where she’s applying.

Burned-out BarryAfter a difficult exit from his last role, he hasn’t moved past his feelings of frustration, disappointment and discouragement. Barry’s unresolved feelings make his search even harder than it would be normally. His energy and confidence are visibly depleted; he’s unknowingly sabotaging his interviews and networking conversations – not to mention his family relationships. He needs extra emotional and social support in order to regain his confidence, energy-level and resilience.

Flexible Phoebe – She’s open to working in different industries and doesn’t want to close off any options. The problem is that she’s too vague and general when she talks about her search: “I’m industry-agnostic, open to any size organization, and considering profit and non-profit organizations.” If she would declare her preferences more specifically, she would help others help her.

Clarence Closednetwork – He worked at a big company for several years and built a strong internal network. Unfortunately, most of the people he knows all know each other. His relational reach would be broader if he tapped into multiple networks. He could reconnect with former colleagues who are now with other organizations. And he could build friendships with people in some of his other circles, like parents of his kids’ friends, neighbors, people who volunteer with him at community service organizations, or others from his yoga class. The good news is that it’s not too late to rekindle or stoke relationships – especially if he had positive connections with them previously.

Distracted Daphne – She attends networking and social events to meet new people. But she always seems to be looking over the other person’s shoulder to see who else is in the room instead of giving someone her full attention. It’s no surprise people leave a conversation without feeling a connection; many experience her as aloof or scattered – not the impression she’d like to leave with people who could otherwise be potential advocates for her in her job search. She also doesn’t have a plan for following up. So, these conversations tend not to turn into helpful relationships. As a result, it’s taking her even longer than she expected to find a new job.

Learn from these job hunters’ mistakes. You’ll likely strengthen and broaden your relational network and have a more enjoyable, fruitful and quicker job search.


Joe Baker is a Partner and Executive Coach with PeopleResults. He also serves on the board of directors for Executive Leaders in Transition Exchange (ELITE), a non-profit organization that helps senior HR and finance leaders find jobs through networking.  You can reach him at jbaker@people-results.com or LinkedIn.