Networking do’s and don’ts

How to be a savvy networker.

Catherine Ducharme is the co-founder of Fluency, a leadership & team development and coaching company. The following tips were adapted from an alumni UBC webinar she presented on how to be a savvy networker.

  • DON’T randomly show up at events asking strangers for favours. Asking people you don't know for business or a job is not what networking is about. It’s like asking someone to marry you on the first date.
  • DO talk about your strengths, but don’t brag. Self-promotion doesn’t sit well with a lot of people. Instead, focus on letting people get to know you.
  • DON’T go into networking situations with fixed outcomes in mind. Networking involves getting to know people as people, without thinking about how they can serve you. It’s not transactional, it’s relational.
  • DO reach out to people in your network you haven’t spoken to in a while. The benefits of networking are through your existing networks, the people who know you the best.
  • DO be proactive. Many people make the mistake of only networking when they need something. Dig your well before you’re thirsty, as the saying goes. Networking is a continuous long-term proposition.
  • DON’T ask binary (yes/no) questions in a conversation. Choose open-ended questions that invite dialogue.
  • DO be curious. Believe everyone has an interesting story to tell and seek to learn from others. To network well we need to practice the art of conversation, and that's where curiosity comes into play.
  • DON’T forget to follow up! Conversations that create connection and spark collaboration and learning are what you’re looking for. If it's there and if it's mutual, suggesting a follow-up chat or a virtual coffee will seem natural.
  • DO initiate. There are fewer opportunities for informal interaction these days, so we must be intentional to build relationships. That requires us to be courageous and step out of our comfort level. What can you start, and whom can you bring together?