The Brief
Even the most experienced networker commits the occasional faux pas. But there are minor slip-ups—say, mixing up a contact’s alma mater—and there are major crimes—well, just see below. Do you know enough to avoid these five cardinal sins of network maintenance?


1. Being a human time-suck.
A healthy network is one populated by individuals willing to lend their time, attention and experience, but that doesn’t give you license to take all of it. Even the most magnanimous contact will start balking if you keep asking for favors or pester him with too many follow-up emails.

2. Asking for too much.
As with the point above, remember, all things in moderation. Your contacts do not take the place of hard work and diligence. They’re meant to open doors, not shove you through. So, make sure your asks are reasonable (a reference, an introduction, advice over coffee) and never, ever put one of your connections in an awkward position with a member of his network.

3. Forgetting to say “Thank you.” 
This should go without saying, but, sadly, it can’t. Expressing thanks is a simple way to strengthen a relationship. And failure to do so is the easiest, surest way to burn a bridge.

4. Keeping them in the dark. 
In order to sustain your relationships in the long term, it’s critical your contacts understand their value in your network. Always remember to keep your connection appraised of how his actions helped you, even if it’s not apparent for weeks or months after the initial favor. He’ll be gratified and perhaps in the future think of you as someone to whom he can reach out. Which brings us to the last point…

5. Failing to reciprocate.
Or put another way, being “that guy.” Healthy networks are ecosystems, and require you to put in as you take out. Always be on the lookout for ways you can contribute. Your thank you notes and calls should always end with an offer of future help on your side.

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