Networking. Don’t you hate networking? Just the sound of the word makes my skin crawl. If you think networking can feel forced and insincere you aren't alone. But for many, it's a necessary evil.
Here are three behaviors to always avoid:
1. Don’t cold call/cold email. Here's a little secret from my more than eight years living in the Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina area: People down here are nice. I often say everyone will take your first meeting. Just ask. Even so, don’t cold call/cold e-mail me. Get a warm introduction from a mutual acquaintance. It's not that hard to find a mutual friend with LinkedIn and Google searches. Do the work.
2. Don't tell me your life story. Please, please do not bore me with a 15-minute dissertation on your entire professional life. More is most definitely not better here. There's nothing that makes me regret taking a meeting more than when someone tells me their entire biography in gory detail.
The rule of threes applies here: Tell me three things that you want me to remember. If you tell me 30, you give me the opportunity to pick which three I'll remember--if I remember any of them at all.
3. Don't ask me to read your mind. After fire hosing me with your bio, you may stop and look at me as if I'm supposed to know what you want. I don't. Be crystal clear about what you're looking for. Again, make it short and concise. A single action item left for your new professional friend enhances your chances that they will actually do something on your behalf.