10 Common Networking Mistakes to Avoid

mba-graduatesHere are some common networking mistakes to avoid in your job search:

  1. Not meeting professionals in person

Job seekers these days want to do everything online, without actually pressing the flesh and meeting people in person but there is no substitute for getting out there and introducing yourself to people who might know someone who is hiring. You should go to at least two or three meet-ups a month, and bring business cards and introduce yourself to random people. Don’t be shy, even if you aren’t the most outgoing person, talk to one or two strangers at these meet-ups, and see if you can find common ground.

  1. Expecting too much too quickly

It is important to not ask for what we want from networking contacts right away. You’ve got to give before we get. Take some time, get to know your contact, and see what skills or services you can provide for that person. Try not to think about what they can do for you just yet. The goal is to broaden your network and make meaningful connections so that they can help you later. So, start networking early.          

  1. Not meeting enough people

Although you want to build strong relationships with your networking contacts, the goal is to meet as many people as possible when you’re at networking events. Ask questions and, presuming you see a fit, politely ask for their card and ask for permission to stay in touch. Remember, this is not the time to make a sales presentation or to tell your life story. It is the time to spend a few minutes of quality time with someone new and then move on to meet a new prospect.

  1. Not working on personal branding

Anyone can reel off their qualifications and their skills but by understanding ourselves, we will be better equipped and more confident in ourselves and our abilities (and indeed shortcomings). We are better able to understand what transferable skills we have, in what environments we work best in, what drives us to work. When meeting people, if you understand yourself, this confidence resonates.

  1. Lacking professionalism

Let’s say someone has found a way to brand themselves, a way to differentiate themselves, how will people know about you? Though LinkedIn and other social networks like Facebook and Twitter have made it easier to network and get your name out there, many job seekers fail to keep a professional image of themselves online.

Spend some time improving your LinkedIn profile and developing your network. Remove those pictures from Facebook that you shouldn’t have taken, also.

mba graduates

  1. Being clueless

If you’re heading to a networking event, make sure you know why you’re going. Do you want a job? If so, are you seeking something specific, or will anything do? Are you looking for contacts or a mentor to provide guidance? As soon as someone starts talking with you, you have to hold up your end of the conversation. If you don’t know what you want, you can’t do that.

  1. Being unprepared

Thinking you know what you want is not the same as knowing it. Treat networking the same way you would treat an interview. Practice your pitch as well as your answers to questions about your career goals that might arise.

  1. Not following through

Another common networking mistake is the lack of following through with networking contacts. You have to remember to follow-up with contacts to continue your relationship and building a good network. Send your contact an e-mail every now and then or give them a call to schedule another meeting, but try not to go overboard. The last thing you want to do is annoy your networking contacts.

  1. Not having patience

Building a professional relationship is a lot like a romantic one – fragile. That being said, you shouldn’t be afraid to work hard to build relationships. One of the top networking mistakes is a lack of patience in conversations and wanting to pitch your sale from the beginning. You have to build up to your pitch. Focus on the other person for a while and find ways where you two can continue to connect.

  1. Forgetting business cards

There is nothing more embarrassing than establishing a good relationship with someone, extracting a pledge of help and then searching around for a cocktail napkin to write on. Spend a few extra bucks to print professional-looking cards on good-quality paper.

  1. Using a silly-sounding email name

Sure, your friends know you as “BestFriend4U” or “TimeForChat,” but when looking for work, stick to a serious email address, such as your real name.

  1. Being passive

If someone says, “Sorry, we don’t have anything right now,” take a minute or two to ask follow-up questions: “Well, what’s the outlook for future possibilities? Do you know anyone else in the industry who might have something? Any thoughts on what my next step should be?” Persistence shows true interest on your part and may help the person you’re networking with come up with ideas he might otherwise overlook.

  1. Not saying thank you

Since life can get busy and it’s easy to forget to send out a thank you card, setting a reminder on Gmail to say thank you can help you remember to show your appreciation to your newly acquired professional contacts.

  1. Not dressing appropriately

Whether it’s a networking event you are attending or simply meeting a contact for lunch – or even a Skype chat – dressing professionally is something you should always keep in mind. You’re trying to get a job, not go out on a casual date with friends.

A networking event can be a dress rehearsal for a job interview, but no one will help you get your foot in the door if you give the impression that you’ll slouch through it once it’s open. Remember, you have to look and act the part so you can convince others that you’re ready to work and be a professional.

  1. Not helping others.

Many job seekers get into the mindset that networking is a one-way street. Unfortunately, this mindset can have a negative impact on your job search. The solution: Give back to your professional connections. For example, if one of your friends secured you a job interview with their employer, find a way you can return the favor. Whether it’s being there for them as they work towards their promotion or helping them find a mentor, this is a great way to help the people who help you during your job search.

Contributed by Shilpa Verma Kansal ( Class of 2008, IBS GURGAON )

Being Focused in a Hyper Connected World

Hyper Connected World


In terms of connectivity and communication our world has been transformed in last decade. With the advent of the Internet, a new era of communication started in early 2000s which was later compounded by social media and great innovations in mobile telecommunication industry.

Today we have to admit that we are living in a hyper-connected world with data and information available on our fingertips. With a simple touch we can access and utilize terabytes of data which is available literally for free.

And now, the entire human society is faced with even bigger challenges i.e. how to analyze this data, and how to be focused in this era of hyper-connectivity and social media revolution. In this article I will focus on the challenge of ‘Being Focused in a Hyper Connected World’.

Today students and professionals are connected with their social acquaintances via mobile phones, various texting apps, internet platforms like Emails, Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Hike, YouTube, WeChat etc. And their daily duties and activities are greatly affected by this online connectivity. According to various studies an average person checks his mobile phone more than 50 times a day for various reasons. For today’s generation the first thing after getting up in the morning is to check mobile phones and so is the last thing before they go to bed.

There is Terabytes of information (Authenticated and Unauthenticated) available for their consumption in almost every possible manner. There are Photos and Videos, Blogs and Texts, Mails and Socially shared information about billions and billions of people on the internet. This presents us with a great opportunity to connect and collaborate with each other to come up with great solutions to the problems of the mankind. But it also threatens us in more ways than one; it takes away our invaluable time which otherwise would have been spent on books or sports, leisure or physical activities, offline socializing, human interaction and for social causes.

Utility of Connectivity 8

We have to objectively think – What is the utility of being connected to our acquaintances online, what should be the amount of time we spend on our social connections Vs. our Personal Development, What is the opportunity cost of being connected to friends online, What is the outcome of being connected to those strangers on the cyber world which can harm the society in an unprecedented manner, Is our online communication adversely affecting our health and well being, How is our psychological and immediate (OFFLINE) social life is affected by this online connectivity. Human being is the only species in the planet with most sophisticated communication channels, methods and tools. But we have to think that due to this hyper connectivity – Are we the most blessed species as well?

Consequences of Hyper connectivity

Today one small beep on a smart-phone can distract an individual and take away his precious time. Data shows that employees and students are not able to focus on small issues for a decent period of time and that their problem solving abilities are badly affected due to such distractions. Activities like problem solving, and analyzing complex issues require incremental amount of time to reach to the solution. Each incremental hour spent on a problem solving/creative activity becomes more and more important because that is the only way to reach a state of mind where solution appears for the first time.

Following are frequently reported problems due to this hyper connected world:

  • Decreasing time of focused activity
  • Less Productivity due to distraction
  • Inferior Solutions
  • Increased cost of production
  • People having a lot information but no idea how to utilize it for their betterment

Being Focused In a Hyper Connected World 9

If we want our next and current generation to be relevant and productive, we need to encourage them for being focused for a long period of time at once.

Following are a few methods or techniques that one can deploy for being focused in this hyper connected world:

  • Dedicated time and span for online activity: One needs to analyze his/her schedule and daily productive activities. They should abstain from any kind of social connection like Facebook and Whatsapp during their most productive hours. For example one should check these tools and platforms 15 minutes in morning, 20 minutes in the afternoon, 25 minutes in the evening. This is only a suggestion; time spent in morning/afternoon and evening on online activity may vary from person to person as they have different daily routine and different lifestyle.
  • Fixed frequency: One needs to diligently define her/his own acceptable frequency for checking these social media apps. Ideally (If not used for business and personal development purpose) one should check on these apps only 3 times a day, that too not for more than 60 minutes per day.
  • Utilize online platform for personal development, learning new skills, and being trained on new technologies which helps you to become a better professional or student rather than connecting with friends for gossiping, following strangers etc. There is a ton of knowledge and information available online, which can be used for our own self development so that we can realize our dreams and fulfil our aspirations.
  • Goal setting for your online activities: Things like monitoring the time spent on different online activities and its repercussions, minimizing non-productive activities on the internet etc. will help students to come up with a better strategy to allocate their time for their online activities.
  • Every user of internet and these social media platforms should be aware of his/her online activity because they are closely being monitored by websites like Facebook, Google, etc. These companies use this data to influence your buying behaviours. I believe now things are not bought online rather they are sold (PUSH MARKETING) online. Most of the times users end up buying things they never needed. This encourages consumerism and wasteful allocation of resources like money and time. One should be extra cautious of this phenomenon.
  • Being connected to more and more online communities or groups in your own field of occupation helps individuals to remain focused about their fields of business and being aware of the industry trends. For students they should try and access online data for researching the activities performed across the globe. They should avail the benefits of watching videos/lectures/seminars, reading course materials related to their subjects and courses online.

In the end I would like to emphasize the importance of being focused by saying that – Today every bit of information is available for billions of people, and only those people will win in tomorrow’s marketplaces that are focused, well informed, and ruthlessly passionate about the work they do. And Internet might be a boon or bane in deciding that. So be focused and do not take your eyes off your goals. Internet, telecommunication and online world can tremendously help individuals professionally, economically and socially but we have to make a conscious effort for that.

Contributed by Avdhesh Shukla ( Class of 2009, IBS BANGLORE )

MBA and the Art of Networking

the art of networking

Since the markets crashed in 2009, there has been a drastic reduction in the number of students appearing for the coveted Common Admission Test. The number for 2013 was 1.95 Lakh as compared to 2.14 Lakh in 2012; a drop of almost 8.9%. The dip clearly suggests that the demand for MBA graduates has declined in comparison to its supply.

The negative growth has also made the aspiring student weary of the future prospects as a B-School graduate; however MBA is still one of the most preferred professional courses in India. With a high number of students still competing for an admission to the best colleges and thereafter for desirable job positions, it’s imperative for a prospective/current MBA student to enter his/her college with a fair idea of what ‘NETWORKING’ is all about. Once equipped with the basics of   the art of networking, an individual can build an all important network within and beyond the campus boundaries.

A network here refers to an individual or a group of professionals who are aware of your credentials and are willing to lend a helping hand in learning the finer nuances of the professional world. This enhances your chances of being more employable and they might even help you land a job. In this fast moving and competitive day and age, we eventually are a sum of our networks! Let’s decipher the best way to network while at a B-School and how the art of networking that starts during the B-School journey will eventually help us in creating long lasting professional relationships.

Network in the realms of B-School!

In any MBA class there are students from diverse backgrounds, which supersede one’s class, creed or color. Students differ from each other based on their field of study, amount of work experience, extracurricular achievements etc. Regardless of whether they like it or not, they start collaborating on different projects, assignments, clubs and this is one place where one automatically creates a network with peers and faculties.

MBA is a professional course, make the most of it!

There is no harm in having a good time, however this is a professional course and within the next 24 months everyone will be out in some organization or the other. Having a cordial relationship with all your peers and faculty will be an added advantage for you in the years ahead. Any image one creates during the time spent at a B-School will always create a recall value (either positive or negative) amongst your batch-mates and the faculty. Please do remember that the visiting faculties at B-School are leaders from the corporate world. Your seniors or batch-mates may be a reference points during an interview or a social meeting. It is also important to lead while you are at a B-School to demonstrate the leader that lies in you; however it is equally important to be a good team player and allow others to lead too.

Building your network beyond the realms of the B-School:

While  you  engage  in  the  activities  within  your  campus,  one  must  immediately  start  developing  a network according to ones area of interests in the corporate world. It will always be useful to focus on the field you eventually want to have a career in. It is also imperative to connect with people who are better than you and have more experience than you. Below is something which few of my fellow batch mates and I tried. It paid dividends in the long run:

Nishkam Karma:

While I was preparing for my B-School journey I read this term in one of the newspapers I used to subscribe (I must admit reading newspapers always helps). In essence, this is a term from Bhagvad Geeta which points as action without expectation of results. As we approach a lot of people from the corporate world for guidance, please bear in mind that we should reach out to them with an intention of learning from their experiences and not to land a job. So here this term is slightly modified as one expects to learn or add some value from any interaction. Try not to have your very first meeting with a resume in hand and expectations of landing a job. The focus should solely be creating a network.

Practice being a good listener:

We all love to talk and talk for hours. However once you are out there to meet stalwarts and create a network of your own, you need to step back, listen and learn. Listening carefully, skimming and keeping useful information is an art that one needs to master. So till the time you master the art, try to write down important points which were a part of your discussion.

Pick up the Phone / Write an E-Mail:

These are the basics and yet somehow we resist from making that first connect, via phone or email. The worst that can happen to us is that we will not be entertained at all, however 1 in 10 will respond. That single addition  to  your  network  may  turn  out  to  be  a  game  changer  in  your  professional development. If possible, always try and meet the person (at least once) for maximum impact. It gives them a fair idea about you and vice versa.

Follow up on regular intervals:Professional-Networking-for

This might start sounding like a sales pitch, but this is important for an individual; who aspires to stand out in the crowd and wants to create a recall with influential decision makers in the industry. Every SMS/e-mail/phone call does get registered and it can be for any special occasion / or just a catch up call (Note: start calling once you have a rapport in place).

Showcase your progress in a subtle manner:

While we interact with people from the corporate world, they will guide and advise us on different aspects.  It is imperative to be a quick learner and implement their suggestions. Once it’s implemented, you can share the outcome within your network of people and thank the concerned person for the insight.

Get an Internship:

Once you have a network in place, rather than asking for a job (if that is what you are building your network for) always try to land an internship. People are more than happy to hire an intern. Although stipend is necessary, one should not mind working for free if the opportunity is worth its while. Good work in an internship definitely augurs well for the future strengthens your network and helps you to interact with more people at work and hence adding more people to your network.


Rome was not built in a day! Similarly the dividends of one’s network are not overnight just as all the other things in life. Hence the suggestion is to start as soon as one enters the B-School. It is also important for us to be patient with the development of our network in the corporate world. The people we are reaching out to would be the bigwigs and will be pressed for time in most occasions. Hence do not try too hard or appear pushy.

The art of networking is something which one gets better with time. However, with the growing competition and fewer market opportunities, one who keeps adding valuable relations to his kitty will definitely have an upper hand.

Happy networking.

Contributed by Gaurav Sharga (Class of 2010, IBS GURGAON)

Networking Online

The word networking has taken on a whole new dimension during the last decade. Previously a person developed a network after prolonged interactions with a set of people. This network consisted of mainly his colleagues, friends and acquaintances. The study of such social networks was a mainstay of ‘Sociology’, ‘Social Psychology’ etc,. Nowadays however social networking has become synonymous with online social activity on social networking platforms like Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Myspace and many more.

The process of befriending people through many interactions has radically transformed. It has shifted to a stage where two parties after a single meeting befriend each other on a social networking website and then continue their interactions online. Thanks to such platforms, sharing information between like-minded individuals has become easier than ever before. Distance was a huge barrier for maintaining relationships with people. Pen-pals did exist but the level to which interactions could occur was limited by the postal service and time taken to receive and send messages. All this has now changed with the advent of the internet and specifically the social media networks. This points to a scenario in the near future where every individual will be capable of expanding his/her network to a level which can’t be imagined.

This means that every person will have access to more information about his network and it would be easy to get in touch with someone, required for a specific activity. However we must understand that social media platforms are just a tool to facilitate networking. A person’s network is still defined by the relationship he shares with each member in his network. Consider a situation where in a person ‘X’ contacts two people ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ for help regarding a certain task. The relationship X shares with Y & Z will define the level of help he would receive from them. Though Y & Z are connected to X by his network, Y might consider X as an acquaintance and Z might consider X as a really close friend. This would in turn define the nature of help received from each of them.

To conclude it’s more important to nurture and maintain relationships than single-mindedly increasing one’s network.

“The successful networkers I know, the ones receiving tons of referrals and feeling truly happy about themselves, continually put the other person’s needs ahead of their own.”

-Bob Burg