Tag: networking advice


Networking Don’t: Why You Should Never Use Empty Flattery

While networking can be tricky, it should never involve trickery, which could cause your networking efforts to blow up in your face. There are several networking don’ts to avoid, which I’ve previously written about. One don’t I’d like to focus on today is empty flattery.

Empty flattery, also known as “buttering up” people, is never a good networking strategy for two reasons. One, most discerning people recognize it immediately and are turned off by it. And two, networking is all about taking the time to build genuine relationships, not being phony to get a list of someone’s contacts.

Story of a networking don’t

I remember someone who was trying to secure my business for his media promotion services. I had only met him once before, and therefore didn’t know much about him.

He told me he saw me as a thought leader in my industry. I couldn’t help but wonder why he’d think this. He’d never once “liked” or commented on any social media or blog post I’d ever made. When his actions didn’t match up with his words, I privately questioned his sincerity.

Then, he asked me to introduce him to one of my contacts, wanting an immediate connection with someone I’ve spent ten years building a business relationship with. I had to set a healthy boundary by letting him know, since my contact greatly values doing work with people he already has an established relationship with, I was hesitant to introduce to him someone I barely know yet. (A lesson I’d already learned in my career, and one everyone will learn in their career at some point.)

This boundary was an opportunity for the inquiring party to put in more time and effort to build a more meaningful networking relationship with me, which would’ve likely led to an eventual introduction to my other colleague. However, it’s been almost a year and I haven’t heard from him since, deepening my questioning of his original flattering words.

Networking do’s and don’ts

To avoid a networking faux pas like the one above, here are some networking do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.

When first trying to connect with a potential contact, don’t use empty flattery to manipulate the situation.

A sincere compliment is okay, but even then I suggest you first put some action behind it. For example, if you really like someone’s work, share it first with others you think could benefit from it, or help promote it to your own social media following.

Imagine to yourself, once you finally have the opportunity to compliment this person on their work, they ask you, “How much do you like it?” They won’t likely ask this question, but if they did, could you answer it?

Also, put less focus on compliments and more focus on being genuinely curious about the other person’s work. Ask appropriate questions about what they enjoy most about their work, what trends they’re noticing in their field, etc.

Then, listen to their responses for things you may have in common with them, especially regarding common values and ethics. This is a much better way to build rapport with someone.

Finally, don’t forget to set appropriate expectations. Understand it’s going to take time to build trust with someone.

No one is immediately going to trust a stranger with their network. Instead, they’re going to protect their contacts so as not to burn any bridges with them. You should do the same for your own contacts, and should hope they’d do the same for you.

More resources

For more networking do’s and don’ts, check out these resources:

How to Avoid an Epic Fail When Networking

Networking often feels awkward, and can sometimes backfire, even with the best of intentions. Add to it the awkwardness and limitations of a pandemic, and you’ve got yourself a potential epic fail.

We’ve all failed at least once in our networking strategies. This week, I want to provide some tips to help you try some new and different approaches to avoid an epic fail.

Stay tuned for next week when I share some out-of-the-box interview tips!

Successful networking strategies

One of the most successful strategies is to spend more time doing it! Job seekers should spend 80% of their job search networking and only 20% actually applying to job ads. However, most job seekers have this reversed.

But to be successful, you also have to understand the etiquette involved in networking. Check out these previous posts for five tips most people fail to implement.

1. Avoid appearing desperate on LinkedIn

Every job seeker knows it’s important to be on LinkedIn, but they don’t know how to keep from looking desperate. Recruiters can detect desperation just from a job seeker’s profile, and will steer clear.

Click here to learn how to avoid looking desperate on LinkedIn.

How to Stop Looking Desperate on LinkedIn

2. Create a more inviting elevator pitch

An elevator pitch, created from the same old cookie-cutter approach, will make your listener want to pitch themselves down an elevator shaft!

Instead, click here to try a more inviting and less annoying approach.

The Best Way to Write a Successful Elevator Speech

3. Don’t ask, “Can I pick your brain?”

Leading your networking conversation with this common question can quickly result in an epic fail.

For a lot of professionals, this question is a trigger. To them, it’s code for, “I want to take from you your years of knowledge, advice, or contacts, without giving anything in return.”

This is not a good way to start off on the right foot.

But good news! There are appropriate ways to start a conversation with a potential new contact. Click here to learn how to do so using proper etiquette.

Why “Can I Pick Your Brain?” Is the Wrong Approach

4. Become a good networking contact yourself

Instead of just trying to find good networking contacts, you might also have better luck by serving as a good contact yourself.

To learn five ways you can give back and contribute more to your networking relationships, click here.

How to Stop Networking for Good Contacts and How to Be One!

5. Protect yourself from toxic professional relationships

You’ve probably heard the popular networking advice, “Never burn a bridge.” But I also say, “Never stay standing on a bridge someone else has lit a match to.”

While it’s important to maintain good networking relationships, you should also protect yourself from the toxic ones. Especially if they could hurt your other professional relationships.

Click here to learn how to recognize toxic relationships in your professional circles.

Never Say Never: How to Know When You Should Let a Bridge Burn

Related resources