Networking, when used properly, is perhaps your most powerful tool for advancing your career. Honing relationships and connections can provide you with an inside conduit to unadvertised opportunities and strategic introductions. Like any other tool in your box, networking is a skill that requires attention and practice. Many people fall into avoidable pitfalls and derail their networking efforts. Here are four tips to help you stay out of the networking quicksand.

It’s Better to Give Than Receive

The biggest networking mistake anyone can make is to always be on the take without giving. The best networkers I’ve met are always giving to their connections. They freely give contacts, job leads, sales leads, make introductions, etc. They turn themselves into trusted advisors and consistent sources of reliable, and valuable, information. It’s not surprising that these professionals in turn get valuable information from their spheres of influence. Consider it career karma – send it out and watch it come back.

No One Can Read A Closed Book

Clear communication with your circles is vital to your success. If your connections don’t know what you need, they can’t possibly help you. Whether you are looking for a change of career, or insight from a mentor, be very specific and upfront about it. This strategy, coupled with giving more than you receive, will create a powerful exchange of valuable information and opportunities.

Patience Is A Virtue

Like anything worthwhile, creating a solid network takes time. Networking is about building trusting relationships. Stay focused on building these and the leads will eventually come. The worst thing you can do is wait until you are actively looking for a new job and then jump into networking and expect results. Building your network is a career-long process.

Don’t Try So Hard

As I mentioned above it is important to clearly communicate what you are looking for. This doesn’t mean that you should beat your community over the head to the point that you are being intrusive. Pace out your requests, and make sure you are giving back to your colleagues between requests.

Your professional network is one of the most valuable assets in your career. Nurture it, feed it well, and treat it nicely.

Danielle Foppe is a Recruitment Manager at Business Centric Technology. If you are interested in learning more about how to get the best IT talent in the Dallas metroplex, contact Danielle who specializes in recruiting IT talent in Dallas, Ft. Worth and North Texas. If you are looking for a rewarding career contact us today. (972) 267.7950