December 1, 2023

14 Online Networking Mistakes To Avoid

By Charles Miller

Every day, I get roughly:

  • 20 Twitter DMs
  • 10 Instagram DMs
  • 100 LinkedIn connection requests

And honestly? 99% of them are awful.

Here's why:

(So you can network and get results)

Unoptimized Profile

You need to show people that you're "in the game". If you have an anonymous profile photo, a name that's something random like "Cowboys Fan" and a blank or poorly-written bio, why should anyone respond?

Most people network because they think it'll lead to some kind of monetary gain. If your profile looks unprofessional, they won't respond. The only way you can get away with being anonymous is if you're on Twitter and everything else you have (content, bio, etc) is good. Otherwise, you need to optimize your profile before doing anything else.

Only Shooting High

Messaging huge creators and mega-successful people is fine, but you should chat with people near your level too.

Reach out to a mix of non-creators, small creators, and bigger creators. That'll get you the best results.

Zero Personalization

Don't send LinkedIn connection requests with no note. Don't send social media DMs that you copy-paste without changing a single thing.

Personalize. Say something that you could only say to them. Make people feel like you actually care about them.

Wasting Time

My least favorite DMs are "hi", "what's up?", and "can I ask you a question?"

Why? Because they're making me work to figure out what they want, which takes up time and mental energy. Don't make people work to interact with you. It's not polite to conceal why you're messaging someone. If you just want to talk, say so. If you're selling something, sell it.

Pretending You're Not Selling

Special note on that last case: never start a conversation with someone, make it look like you're just trying to network, then start selling something to them.

If you're selling, be upfront. No pretending.

Asking Instead Of Giving

95% of the messages I get are asking me for something.

They want to sell me their service. They want me to help them with something. They want to connect for selfish reasons.

Try to give instead of asking. Offer a specific service. Give a quick tip. Point out a typo on someone's website.

Lead with value.

Not Being Natural

Typing online is exactly like talking in real life. You don't need to change the way you talk because you're writing something.

Be natural. Message people like you're in person chatting at a bar or coffee shop. Don't write things you wouldn't say in real life. Don't feel compelled to call people "sir". Ditch the formality.

Following Up Too Much

I've often said "persistence pays", but in this case, take your foot off the gas a bit.

Persistence is great when doing sales outreach. Especially when you're using cold email. It's often best to send 5-8 cold emails when selling.

But on social media, for networking purposes? Don't be the person who never takes a hint. 2 follow-ups is best.

Never Checking In

After you connect with someone, you'll want to keep chatting with them to strengthen the relationship.

Having one quick conversation does nothing for you. Continue to build trust and familiarity through conversations and strategic partnerships (like trading engagement).

Checking In Too Much

Don't check in too much, though. The people you meet online likely won't become your best friends who you talk to every day or even every week.

Keep your distance and do it an appropriate amount.

Getting Offended

A lot of people are going to ignore you. Never get offended. Never take it personally. Just move on to the next.

Not Going Off-Platform

When you get along well with someone, consider taking your relationship off of the platform you met on.

All my best connections are connected with me on WhatsApp or Telegram. Almost none still use Twitter or LinkedIn DMs.

Don't ask people to leave the platform immediately, but if you're getting along well, go to a messaging app.

Doing Too Many Calls

Calls are great in some cases. I like them for deepening existing relationships and talking business. But I (and most people) don't want to do calls all the time, especially with people we don't know well.

Suggest calls occasionally with people you get along well with and have known for a bit. If it's your first time talking to them, you probably shouldn't pitch a "virtual coffee". Some people love that, but most don't have the time or the desire.

Not Creating & Engaging

Messages are great for connecting with people. Replies under their posts are great too. They're especially useful when someone is a regular content creator. Replies create familiarity and reciprocity, which makes your eventual message more likely to be answered.

You should also create content. This attracts people to you so you're not always reaching out to them. The ultimate goal is to have most people come to you and have the few that you reach out to be likely to reply because you have a decent following.

Replying and creating make that happen.

Conclusion

Networking is one of the highest-ROI things you can do.

But you have to do it right by:

  • Optimizing your profile
  • Talking to all levels
  • Personalizing messages
  • Getting right to the point
  • Being upfront about selling
  • Leading with value
  • Being yourself
  • Following up the right amount
  • Checking in the right amount
  • Never getting offended
  • Taking good relationships off-platform
  • Not asking everyone for calls
  • Create content and engage with others

Follow those rules, and you'll be fine.

P.S. Whenever you're ready, I can help you in 3 ways:

1. Copyblogger Academy - This is my content marketing community. It comes with 9 full-length courses, Q&A, and a lot more. Join 1300+ members inside.

2. Collaborations - I have LinkedIn growth services ranging from $300 to $4500 per month. Fill out my form to see if we're a good fit.

3. Consultations - If you want to talk 1:1, I do 4 consultations per month. Check my calendar to see if I still have availability.