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by Jesse Liszka | August 08, 2023


Regardless of where you are in your career, building a strong network is essential for growing your career growth. This means it’s now necessary to master virtual networking, which has become a game-changer in the world of work. But before you dive in headfirst into the wide world of virtual networking, it's crucial to be aware of the common blunders that could trip you up along the way.

Below are three virtual networking mistakes that you absolutely need to avoid.

1. Sending a LinkedIn connection without a message 

Imagine that you work in HR and come across someone who's absolutely rocking it in your industry—let's call them Sarah Superstar. Their profile is filled with impressive accomplishments, and their experience and human resources metrics are off the charts. You're itching to connect with them (who wouldn’t be?) and hit the "connect" button—without crafting a personalized message. Which is a big mistake! Think about it. Sarah Superstar receives countless connection requests every day. Why would she accept yours if it's buried among a sea of impersonal and generic invitations?

So, instead of merely hitting “connect,” what you should do is take a second to craft a connection request that shows you've paid attention. Mention something specific from their profile that caught your eye. Maybe it's their recent promotion or a shared interest like surfing or cat memes. And don't be afraid to let your personality shine through. Give them a genuine compliment or express your admiration for their work. Remember, you're connecting with a human, not a corporate robot. Finally, let them know how the connection can benefit both of you. Share your unique skills or experiences that could be valuable to them. Show how you can collaborate, learn from each other, or create something awesome together. 

2. Not setting ground rules and boundaries

Meet Jack, a go-getter in the marketing world. Jack is eager to expand his network and starts connecting with industry experts left, right, and center, firing off messages like a cowboy shooting from the hip.  However, he soon realizes his boundless enthusiasm is overwhelming his newfound connections. Lesson learned: it's essential to respect others' boundaries and pace yourself when it comes to adding people.

Instead of venturing into the networking wilderness without a compass, remember to respect others' boundaries and pace yourself. Focus on quality connections that align with your goals and values rather than aiming for a high quantity of superficial connections. And find the right rhythm of communication, striking a balance between being engaged and respectful.

3. Forgetting to show reciprocity

When it comes to networking, there's a golden rule you can't afford to ignore: reciprocity. It's all about giving and taking. But here's a common slip-up we've all seen: Imagine you meet someone awesome. They're a networking champ, always there with a helping hand, sharing insights and hooking you up with useful stuff. Here's where it gets tricky. You forget to return the favor. You don't offer support, lend a hand, or even acknowledge their contributions. Talk about a one-way street that's bound to hit a dead end.

It's time to embrace the magic of reciprocity. This means showing some love and appreciation for the help you receive. Say thanks, acknowledge their efforts and make them feel valued. And don't just stop there. Actively look for ways to support your network connections. Share resources, make introductions, offer your skills and knowledge, and genuinely care about their goals and dreams. 

Jesse Liszka is the Senior Communications Specialist at Paylocity, leading provider of cloud-based payroll and human capital management software. She’s an experienced communications, client marketing, and content specialist, with more than 12 years of experience. You can find her on LinkedIn.