Are You Making these 5 Networking Mistakes?

5 Networking Mistakes to Avoid | Maroon Oak
Some networking connects are more memorable than others - for the wrong reasons! Are you making any of the 5 networking mistakes that can hurt your career?
A place in Every Woman's heart and career.

Some networking connects are quite memorable – for the wrong reasons! Are you making these 5 networking mistakes that can hurt your career?

Deals are always closed by people. No matter how you found each other.

As a Founder and Speaker, I meet plenty of new connects each month at meetings and networking events or mixers. Typically, we share intros in a group or one-on-one. We talk business, exchange stories, connect on LinkedIn and try to keep in touch.

Admittedly, lots of Startup Founders and executives have plenty have polished pitches and sound bites – interesting, informative and occasionally, salesy too.

Then there are the others who confuse connecting with aggressive selling or follow ups. Whether you’re at your first networking event or a regular at attending events, a few basic rules always apply.

Here are 5 examples of Networking Mistakes. Or how NOT to Network!

(I remember them because of what they didn’t do right.)

It’s a Quick Pitch. Not your Biography

I was at an event with a huge turnout and everyone waited for their turn at an introduction. Early on was this professional who went on to share her life story that was not only overlong, but also irrelevant to both the audience and the topic. Even worse, she remained oblivious to the fidgets and bored expressions of others.

Networking events are time-bound – everyone wants a chance to have their say. In bigger groups especially, intros have time limits that are often stated upfront.

With diminishing attention spans, long pitches can be a turnoff so don’t exceed a minute or two.

Practice 2 or 3 versions of your pitch or professional skill, so you can keep convey smartly, and still keep attention.

Also Read 7 e-Networking Tips Every Professional Needs

Long Story Short

Here’s an entrepreneur who kept her pitch to zero. Zilch!

The reason – her product concept was so complicated that I would need  to watch a 14 minute video to understand how their shopping service worked.

Could she explain to me in 2 minutes, I asked.

No, but how long was 14 minutes anyway? And I really had to view it to understand it all.

Sorry, not happening.

Unless it’s rocket science, your business premise should be easy to understand. If you don’t have enough clarity to nail down your pitch, how do you expect someone else to grasp it.


Looking for Networking Events?

Explore our lineup of In-person and Online Events

Events & Workshops

Request. Don’t Expect. And Please Don’t Demand

A founder of a TV service asked me what I did, looked at my business card and told me point blank – it’s no good, you can’t do anything for me. And then he stepped too close for either comfort or courtesy and demanded – now tell me, how else can you help my business?

Just because someone shared their coordinates, don’t hound via LinkedIn, email or text either.

A networking connection is a success if both parties walked away with a desire to pursue the connect. Rarely are deals made at first meetings and truthfully, no one owes us anything.


Don’t Persist. Don’t Prolong

Then there are the ones who won’t let you get away.

I lost an opportunity to connect with 3 or 4 prospects at the end of an event, when a woman monopolized my time and attention to pitch her revolutionary sales training technique. Not only did she insist on talking at me non-stop, she ignored my panicked looks darting towards the others, as they made their way out, taking away any chance I had to speak with them.

Instead, had she heeded my requests to chat later, I’d have been more amenable to a conversation. I might also have connected her to others or invited her to events that I’m a part of. That’s the way business connects work – these kind of missteps or mistakes in Networking won’t generally pay off. Sometimes it’s a put off.


Card Shark – Not Cool!

This woman at a group event dashed from table to table, handing out her cards without sharing her name or even a simple hello. Most people didn’t even pick up her card. Others connect on LinkedIn and then go on to hound you with multiple messages. 

Yes, ideally, Networking events should enable an exchange of info and contact details. But you might not have enough time if it’s a large turnout. 

I encountered a similar situation at another event, so I briefly spoke to a few attendees, exchanged cards and wrote in my follow up email – didn’t get a chance to talk with you at length, but look forward to connecting again soon. Within hours, I had LinkedIn invites to connect from 3.

Even if you connect via LinkedIn at the event, make sure that you add a follow up note later on.

Also Read 8 Reasons Why You Should Network Digitally


Content Courtesy

Another event had a one-of-a-kind delegate whose inappropriate narrative had both the attendees and the hosts cringing. Pretty sure she didn’t make a connection with too many people there.

Questions like race, politics, relationships or visa status are best left alone or kept for different platforms. A lot of people can sound ignorant, naive or condescending in their remarks or side stories. Even if it’s unintended, the damage is done.

While making an impact counts, bland is better than controversial.


Do you Network Online or on LinkedIn?

Meet Peers, and Explore Events and Resources on the Women in Startups Community!

Love Networking? Here’s what makes Good Networking!

Short and sweet

A thumb rule I learned early on is – even in a one-to-one, don’t exceed 60 seconds at a time in whatever you’re saying. Shorter sentences work best.

Research beforehand

Many events share the attendee list and almost everyone is findable on LinkedIn or Google. Looking people up can give you a huge leg up in a professional conversation. You also remember them better.

Read body language

There are times they want to talk to someone else but stay out of politeness. It’s ok to let go – there might not be a deal there, anyway.


The best conversationalists are listeners. Ask questions. Even if you don’t get to share your spiel, after the meeting is done, you’re the one they’ll remember.

Quality over Quantity

We all want to work the room but that’s not always possible. So your best option might be picking out a few people and talking to them. Again, research helps you decide exactly who.

Follow up and follow through

An email note, call or even a message on LinkedIn or Twitter or other social/ email is not only good manners, it’s also great business sense. If you promised some info, don’t forget to send it within the promised timeline.

A Million Contacts Online

All of these guidelines apply to Online networking too. Granted, we may be safe behind our screens, but the same etiquette can win you connections or repel them into avoiding you. These tips on smart e-networking can help you navigate the digital universe.

At the end of the day, being cued-in, plus simple commonsense and courtesy work best.

It’s not hard to avoid these Networking mistakes, it just needs a little restraint. So the next time, you’re at a meeting, don’t just Network. Connect!

Do share your networking experiences – good or bad – in the comments below.

Pooja Krishna is an Entrepreneur, Consultant and Mom. She has worked both in large corporates and managed startups over the last 20+ years. A co-founder of Maroon Oak, she’s also founded Win Thinks, a small business consulting company, and Trading Paces, which educates amateur and pro stock traders. She blogs and teaches workshops about Brand Strategy, Social Media & Future ready Career Solutions. She loves being a Classroom Mentor and teaching students across the U.S. about Job Skills and Entrepreneurship. Read her interview on Huffington Post.

A trivia buff and yoga & hula hoop enthusiast, Pooja loves spending time with her family playing board games and watching documentaries. 

Maroon Oak on TwitterMaroon Oak on LinkedIninstagram icon

Facebook logo

  1. […] topical but try to avoid controversial topics. Your content is not a soapbox. If you express opinions on political, social, or religious matters, […]

  2. Marci 5 years ago

    Oh my, I’ve met so many of these personalities at networking events and I confess to making similar mistakes early on in my entrepreneurial career.

    One wise person asked me upon meeting for the first time, “How can I support you in your business?” THAT spoke volumes.

  3. Helpful. Under your “Don’t Persist. Don’t Prolong “I would suggest that sometimes it is necessary to disengage by saying “Excuse me, but I do want to speak with other people.” If that does not work, just walk away. This is not what any of us want to do, but on the other hand you cannot sacrifice your opportunities at an event you probably paid to go to because someone keeps on speaking.

  4. Yeu Doi 7 years ago

    Thank you! These tips will help us refine our networking skills!

  5. Rosey 7 years ago

    These are great tips! I have yet been to a networking opportunity meeting but I will take your tips into consideration when pitching my brand/ blog!

  6. Crystal 7 years ago

    Networking is something I’m always working on. I’m incredibly shy so it’s difficult for me. This is a great article for those that might need a push in the right direction.

  7. Oyinkan 7 years ago

    I think it’s very important to give your card to someone who you’ve already had a convo with. I totally agree with not dropping your card just anywhere.

  8. Elizabeth O. 7 years ago

    Networking can be tricky sometimes. It’s really important that you have a plan and that you know what you’re doing. It’s not easy but you can definitely educate yourself about how to properly build networks for your business.

  9. Karen Jolly 7 years ago

    Great list of tips to include in my considerations. I am always careful in all the things I do in networking. I believe that the output must always be quality over quantity.

  10. Chloe 7 years ago

    I love this, I find that people forget that it is REAL people are the ones that make the ultimate decisions when it comes to networking/marketing/business.

  11. RaNesha 7 years ago

    These are all very helpful to tips we all often forget. This post was a great reminder to stay focused when networking.

  12. Erin 7 years ago

    Awesome tips! I got a kick out of the card shark lady. Seriously, who does that?!

  13. Molly 7 years ago

    You are so right about all of these! I love reading body language and quality over quantity is definitely the most important thing!


  14. Sondra Barker 7 years ago

    I love these tips. I always keep things short and sweet. I’ve always dislike super long content.

  15. Nay 7 years ago

    Great tips. It really does make sense to keep things short and sweet and strictly about the business.

  16. Jessica 7 years ago

    These are great tips! I think that research is so important. It often weeds out those just searching for free things and piggybacking exposure. Knowing that you have mutual interests and goals is going to help both people/companies out rather than just one, which is really what it’s all about in the end right?

  17. Emme Chatterton 7 years ago

    I was cringing reading these stories… they are common types of people you find in all business unfortunately, and life! Learning good manners, pleasant social skills, and showing real human empathy is 99% of networking… great article.

  18. These ideas are really helpful for anyone who is in business including blogging.Networking is really important to be successful in any business.And it matters how you connect with others.

  19. Amber 7 years ago

    What great tips! I always try to make things short and sweet. I know I prefer to read things that way too.

  20. Jessi 7 years ago

    This is a wonderful list! I have always believed that a pitch should be short, sweet and to the point. People don’t have the time for a 14 minute explanation and your personal biography.

  21. Shahntay 7 years ago

    Yes, I agree. Keeping the details short, and pitching in 2 minutes does the trick. I learned really early that if you don’t get it out quickly you can loose the audience.

  22. Nellwyn 7 years ago

    Keeping it short and sweet is one of my favourite networking tips. Perfecting your elevator pitch is absolutely essential!

  23. Muna Kenny 7 years ago

    I’m surprised how people attend networking meet ups with such attitude. I’ve learned a lot from your post!

  24. megan 7 years ago

    i loved these tips – and things to avoid. my biggest problem is selling myself and not being nervous. i always feel like i stumble over my words, and then afterwards I rehash the situation, and how i could have done it better.

  25. These are wonderful tips! A lot of people make the mistake of faking it during networking. But I’m pretty sure “engaging genuinely” is the most important one ever 🙂

  26. I have been in sales for more than 30 years. These are to do’s whether you are just starting or still in the game. Very helpful post.

  27. Caroline 7 years ago

    Love these tips! I am going to a networking event next week and I will definitely be using these.

  28. Polly 7 years ago

    Following up and following through are so important! I take people more seriously when they can actually stick to their word!

  29. Madpawn 7 years ago

    Nice insights! The short resume at the end helps alot and so do your tips, keep it up!

  30. These are all great tips for proper networking. I’m saving this to look through again at length, when I can take notes and add certain bits and pieces to my business habit-building – although most of it really boils down to common sense, a lot of these things are so basic that people just don’t think of them consciously, so having them pointed out in this way is perfect!

  31. stacey 7 years ago

    Great ideas. I love the recap at the end. keep it short, works best, leave some unanswered questions for followup.

  32. Rose 7 years ago

    These are great tips! Networking is such a vital component in life and business. First impressions matter and lasting. I think one thing you hit on that is critical is being able to perceive a person’s body language. You can tell you’ve lost someone’s attention by their body language and that it’s time to move on. Otherwise that connection is lost. Thanks for sharing these insightful tips!

  33. Sincerely Ophelia 7 years ago

    That’s pretty awesome. It’s very useful for my next event. 🙂 thanks!

    XOXO // Check out my latest post if you like 😉
    SINCERELY OPHELIA | 5 reasons why you should get small bag for your next purchase

  34. Biljana N. 7 years ago

    I had honestly never thought about any of this!!!!! This will absolutely help me in the future!

  35. Katell 7 years ago

    This is a gem – what great ideas. Thanks for sharing!

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


©2024 Maroon Oak LLC


Please email us here - we'd love to hear from you!


Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?