Networking is a great way to establish personal connections with people in your industry, whether you’re interested in joint ventures, finding a business partner, seeking funding, or looking for a new job.

But do it wrong and you can burn a lot of bridges. Here are some things you should not do:

Be too vague. Your friend passes on contact information for a consultant that you know will help your business – so you give him a call. But instead of briefly describing your problem and asking for specific advice, you tell a long rambling story and then ask: “Can you help me?”

Prepare for the call by honing your elevator pitch – a one-minute, specific summary of who you are and what you need.

Bombard the contact with “follow up.” Let’s say you’re given contact information for a CEO who’s looking for your type of freelance services. Make your pitch with a phone call or by e-mail. Lay out your expertise and tell him what you can do to help him. Then let him carry the ball. Don’t send daily e-mails “checking” on the status of the hiring decision. Nagging isn’t going to get you the job. If he’s interested in you, trust that you will hear from him.

Forget to follow up with the “connector.” When you’re introduced to a great contact don’t forget to say thanks and offer to reciprocate or help in some way.

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