How to Fail at Networking

By Rafael Herrera, Career Coach, Online Campus Support Center

CTU Professional Development - When Networking FailsFailure is human, and relationships are rarely easy - even professional ones. Failing in networking is no different from failing in any other kind of human relationship.

Often, the reasons for failure in various types of relationships overlap. When you hit obstacles in the relationship road, they’re great opportunities to take a step back and reflect. To help you navigate the road to successful business relationships, avoid the following pitfalls:

The ‘Gimme’ Syndrome

Networking isn’t all about you. Like any relationship, it should be a two-way street. Perhaps your goal is to obtain a connection who can provide a job lead or other resource. These are good goals, but what’s in it for the other person?

Build a networking bridge by identifying shared professional backgrounds or a career interest, so that the potential gain for both is obvious. In your connection requests, including the phrase, “If there is anything I can do to help you…,” is a green light to creating that two-way street. You might think that you have nothing to offer your new connection, but you won’t know for sure until you try.

Undelivered Promises

Not following through on a promise is an excellent way to fail at networking. Put yourself in another's shoes. If you were promised a resource or phone number by a connection that they failed to deliver, you’d be annoyed. At the least, you wouldn’t be motivated to connect with that person in the future. At most, they’ve tarnished their credibility with you.

Good intentions are great, but if you find yourself practicing all talk and no actual show, you’ve conveyed that undependable impression to others. As a professional potentially involved in the same social or professional circles, you can develop a decidedly untrustworthy reputation among us. Always make sure to follow through with promises you make, or provide a timely explanation for why you can’t fulfill them. Even if you can’t make good on a promise, your connections will gain trust in you for showing that you value your commitments to them.

Connecting, but Not Connecting

Sending general cookie-cutter messages as invitations to connect is sure to fail in motivating anyone to form a relationship with you. Though you’re often requesting connections via computer, don’t forget a human is at the other end.

Send unique messages to people in the language that you use in your personal and professional life, letting the context of each situation be your guide. You’re hopefully connecting to people with similar interests as your own, so the stage is already set. People aren’t obligated to reciprocate your interest in connecting, but if you seem personable, professional or interesting that may be enough reason for potential connections to go for it.

When networking, remember the relationship basics that you’d normally practice in face-to-face interaction. If you don’t, you’ll lose out on the value of networking. Just as with all relationships, missing the human element in networking misses the point.

CTU Staff - Rafael HerreraRafael Herrera holds a master’s degree in community counseling from Argosy University and a bachelor’s in psychology from Loyola University Chicago.  He serves as a career coach at Colorado Technical University working with students through career courses and coaching.  Rafael also publishes CTU’s biweekly career services newsletter.

Stay in the know. Subscribe to CTU’s blog and receive fresh updates directly to your inbox. Join us.

Image credit: Flickr/Lyle58

Copyright © 2016 Colorado Technical University (CTU). All rights reserved. No information may be duplicated without CTU's permission. The CTU logo is a registered trademark of Career Education Corporation. CTU cannot guarantee employment or salary. Not all programs are available to residents of all states. Programs vary by location and modality; see catalog for details. Financial aid is available for those who qualify. See the Accreditation & Licensure section for information on the agencies that approve and regulate the school's programs, including relevant complaint procedures here. Find employment rates, financial obligations and other disclosures below.

Privacy Statement Legal Terms and Conditions Student Disclosures Sitemap Student Safety Contact Us

 (855) 230-0555

Terms and Conditions By providing your mobile number, you agree to receive text messages from Colorado Tech via its mobile text message provider.  You may opt out of receiving messages by texting the word STOP to 94576, or simply reply with the word STOP to any text message you receive from Colorado Tech. While CEC or its mobile text message provider will not charge end users for receiving/responding to promotional messages, depending on the terms of your mobile phone plan, you may incur a cost from your mobile service carrier to receive and respond to any promotional text messages (standard messaging and data rates/fees and other charges may apply).  Charges will appear on your mobile phone bill or will be deducted from pre-paid amounts.  Current participating/supported carriers are: Alltel, AT&T, Boost, Cellcom, Cellular One, Cellular South, Cincinnati Bell, Cricket, Element Wireless, Golden State Cellular, iWireless, Metro PCS, Nextel, nTelos, Plateau Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon Wireless, Viaero Wireless, Virgin, and more.×