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Avoid these common networking mistakes

It's no secret that networking is important if you're looking to move forward in your career. The professional connections you make can lead to a number of opportunities both in the short- and long-term. However, according to a recent article I read on Inc.com, there are common networking mistakes people make that take the value right out of this process. Here's a look at a few of these mistakes:

Appearing disinterested:

Networking events can be overwhelming, but it's important to come across as invested in each of the conversations you have. "We concentrate so heavily on connecting with the right title that we begin to consider every midlevel conversation a missed opportunity for speaking with the people who really matter," writes Inc.com contributor Maya Townsend, founder of Partnering Resources, a Massachusetts-based management consulting company. The truth is that you never know who could end up being a great connection down the line, so it's in your best interest to devote the same level of attention to everyone with whom you speak.

Only networking with like-minded people:

Of course it's easiest to forge connections with people with whom you have a lot in common, but going outside your comfort zone is key to broadening your skills and your perspective. By networking with people who have different backgrounds and areas of expertise, "You gain information and perspectives that can help you fill your blind spot," writes Townsend.

Waiting until it's too late:

Just because you have a job that you enjoy doesn't mean you should put networking on hold. For example, many people make the mistake of waiting until they've been laid off to get in touch with their connections. "Desperate job hunters are too keyed up and needy to truly connect," writes Townsend, adding that the people to whom they reach out can sense their desperation and are likely to "roll their eyes" at this behavior.

Networking successfully means keeping in touch with your connections even when you're gainfully employed. By avoiding these mistakes, you can get the most out of networking and see how it helps you move forward in your career.