Not Tapping Others for Help is Biggest Networking Mistake, Survey Shows

MENLO PARK, CA -- Need a favor? Mum's not the word. More than one-third (37 percent) of workers surveyed recently said not asking people for help is the top networking mistake. Failing to keep in touch with professional acquaintances ranked second, with 25 percent of the response.

The survey was developed by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in highly skilled administrative professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 613 men and women, all 18 years of age or older and employed. The findings are part of the "OfficeTeam Career Challenge," a project designed to assist administrative professionals in advancing their careers. The results are released in conjunction with Administrative Professionals Week, April 20-26, which recognizes the contributions of support staff nationwide. Administrative Professional's Day is April 23 and is sponsored by the International Association of Administrative Professionals.

Survey respondents were asked, "In your opinion, which one of the following is the biggest mistake people make when networking with professional colleagues?" Their responses: 

Not asking for help when they need it   37%
Not keeping in touch with contacts   25%
Not thanking people for their help   22%
Burning bridges with past employers   13%
Don't know/no answer   3%

"People often avoid asking for help for two reasons -- either they are embarrassed at needing assistance or they feel they can "go it alone" and succeed without others' involvement," said Liz Hughes, executive director of OfficeTeam. "In this employment market, however, every contact counts. Building your network is tantamount to building your professional marketability and visibility."

Hughes added, "Of course, asking someone to lend a hand is much easier if you've been in regular contact with that person, which underscores the importance of keeping in touch with professional acquaintances."

Hughes offered the following tips for effectively tapping into your network: 

  • Do the prep work. Give your contacts all of the information necessary to help you. For example, if you've asked someone to serve as a reference, provide that person with a copy of your resume, a brief description of the types of jobs you've applied for and the names of those who might be calling.
  • Don't beat around the bush. Be direct rather than hinting at the help you need. Also, let your contact know how much time you anticipate the favor will take. If it's more than an hour or two, you may want to rethink the request and find a way to spread it out.
  • Return the favor. Your contacts will be more motivated to help if you seek ways to assist them and are responsive to their requests.
  • Say thanks. Acknowledge everyone's efforts on your behalf with a thank-you note. 

OfficeTeam has more than 300 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at

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