Networking can be crucial for your career — after all, it is not always what you know, but who you know.
Nonetheless, you are likely making some common mistakes. If you are doing any of the below while trying to grow and/or leverage your network, you are doing it wrong.

Here are the five biggest networking mistakes you’re making.

1. Relying on the internet

Do not ignore the power of face-to-face contact. In this modern day and age, we are obsessed with our online presence. While I am in full support of paying your bills or ordering dinner online, networking is best done in person. It is much harder for people to ignore you if you are standing right in front of them. Sure, Twitter and LinkedIn followers can be useful and provide a simple, quick connection, but to build a truly meaningful relationship, you need to get yourself out there. Attend relevant industry events, workshops, conferences, and presentations. Don’t know how to get on the invite list? This is where the internet can come in handy. Reach out to your colleagues, follow companies and influencers you are interested in on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook, and keep up with industry blogs/event calendars

2. Expecting too much

You can’t take before you give. Of course you ultimately want to gain something from this networking opportunity, but before you ask for it, you must form a mutually beneficial relationship. Focus first on providing value. Make the interaction about the other person and find out what you can do to help. When you introduce yourself, explain what you do and communicate the value you can offer.

Don’t overreach, either. While it would be awesome to grab coffee with the top dogs in your industry, the right networking contact is actually going to be the person who can also benefit from your knowledge and connections. Do not necessarily walk in expecting to leave with a job. Yes, of course you can use networking as part of your job search, but it should not be your sole purpose. For one thing, the desperation will be easy to detect, and for another, you could leave disappointed rather than invigorated.

3. Not having a specific ask

When the time comes to make your ask, you must be specific about it. Your contacts want to help you, but they need to know exactly what you are looking for in order to. Do not throw out a bunch of unrelated goals or favors. Pick the one thing you would like your connection to focus on. This will better ensure that he or she will follow through on next steps.

4. Forgetting to say thank you

It sounds so obvious, but you would be surprised how many people forget those two totally simple — but very important — words. Avoid presenting yourself as an ungrateful jerk. If you want to go the extra mile, send a handwritten thank you note. At  the very least, send a follow-up email expressing gratitude. If things are especially busy (or you’re just especially forgetful), set a reminder for yourself after your meeting. Equally important, make sure to say thank you at the farewell handshake. Everyone appreciates a person with manners.

5. Failing to follow up

On a related note, another common — and disastrous — mistake is failing to follow up. Your contact is not going to be knocking down your door to do you a favor. It is not just about the follow-through either; it’s also about continuing to foster a relationship. Do not fade into the abyss. Send your contact a check-in email every so often, tag them in relevant topics, or tweet them an interesting article. Networking is not a short-term game. You should be in it for the long haul.

What networking mistakes do you think people should stop making? Share in the comments!