Six signs that your online networking skills suck

Everyday, you and thousands of job hunters and professionals network online, but very few actually observe the basics to secure valuable and lasting connections or opportunities that can bring new business or a new job.

Effective networking, particularly when conducted online, is a game-changer. It’s the current must-do for today’s professional. Online and social media connections are far more powerful career-builders than the old school resume or hobnobbing with recruiters. It’s not just ‘who you know’, rather it’s ‘who wants to know you’.

I have 6 red-flags that highlight you as a poor online networker and relegate you to the no-mans land of unanswered calls and discarded connection requests, plus some tips how you can improve.

#6 You’re all Stop-Start-Stop

Merging into traffic from a dead stop requires going full throttle and some aggressive manoeuvring. It’s awkward and erratic — the opposite of a smooth ride. If you come across as someone who seems to network by flipping your on/off switch, that inconsistency is going to red flag you as awkward, ineffective and most often also as insincere.

View online connecting as a new add-on to your professional lifestyle and maintain cruising speed if you decide to enter the world of online networking. Set aside time periodically to keep doors open with key contacts. Be relational on an ongoing basis, and not just in fits and starts.

#5 You’re Unprepared and Uninformed

And … ACTION – you’re on! I can work out in a nanosecond if all you have done is your 5 minute Dr. Google search to prepare when opportunity knocks. I strongly suggest that you always do your homework, maintain your knowledge of current events, trends in your industry, and shake-ups in the competition.

Read the news, not just the tabloids. Displaying a working knowledge of current events is an easy way to add value to almost any online conversation. Consider it your homework for building a more engaging profile with genuine personality and as a critical element in establishing your relevancy.

Your industry will be impacted by world events. Maintain at least a basic awareness of global situations or risk labelling yourself as non-visionary and not connection worthy.

#4 You’re Self-serving

If it’s all about you, what’s in it for them?

Stop selling – instead aim to connect. Stop talking, start listening and read between the lines. Smart and genuine questions and contributions can be far more valuable than statements, and resultant answers are more likely to provide information critical to discovering connection points. Don’t be one of those guys who constantly blanket the online world with statements. They can easily be perceived as presumptive and require others to recognise potential value. By using questions, you make the other online connections feel involved in the conversation, gather the puzzles pieces and connect with smart questions. Great listeners gain more.

#3 You’re Still Out of Touch

Can’t be bothered with Twitter? Slack on LinkedIn? While it’s difficult (and often unnecessary) to be a force on all things social media, dismissive statements – “Why bother?!” – will mark you as prehistoric and behind the times.

Instead, be strategic. Maintain online profiles on the sites that are relevant to your industry and include these links on your social profiles, business cards and email signatures. More connecting points will lead to more conversational opportunities, which will lead to more effective communication. Get it?

#2 You’re Rude and Lazy

Rudeness, intentional or not – is a connection killer.

Bad manners come in many forms: lack of follow-through, obvious disinterest and the disregard of social niceties. Bottom line? If you say you’ll message back or call, do it. If you say you’ll make a referral, make the referral. Focus on present interactions. Be genuine. Be polite. Be present.

Set aside time for follow-up messages, thank you tweets and text or phone calls. Schedule periodic follow-ups and meetings and input monthly events into your calendar. You can outsource these types of tasks if it all sounds too hard for you. It’s more palatable than a mega vitamin and is truly good for you and your career. Be motivated.

#1 You Take Anything and You’re ALL OVER THE PLACE

Don’t trick or treat for endorsements or connections.

Don’t waste time collecting meaningless endorsements and connections. Instead gather what, and whom, you can truly and effectively cultivate into a pick-up-the-phone contact. Be organised and focused on genuine connections.

Keep your communication brief: your name, your purpose and a next step in order to get me excited and build some real interest. Avoid answering all the questions or you risk eliminating the need and opportunity for further contact.

Record a strong and confident personal upbeat communication style. Upgrade your email signature. Proofread your emails with the idea that less is often more. Just be professional.

It’s not that hard to network online and it does not require much work, just genuine focus on what matters. Enjoy it and always remember to hunt wisely!