When you network with people, you meet all different kinds of people from all areas of the industry and beyond. You don’t know these people. That means you need to get to know them better to guide you in how to network and, truthfully, to discover who you need to avoid.
Get to Know Their Likes and Dislikes
What kind of people are they? Do they have a sense of humor? What do they read/write? What genres are they in? What do they do for a living? Hobbies and talents are important to know as well. If someone really likes to garden, maybe you know someone who writes gardening books. You can connect them.
If they don’t like graphic pics or books, don’t suggest those or share them. You can easily offend them. Get to know them.
Learn Their Backgrounds
What did they major in college? Remember that what they do now might not reflect what their degree(s) are in. They might have talents and abilities you never dreamed of. Most people don’t realize from my current profile that I have an accounting background. When they do, they realize they have a networking contact that can help them with questions or direct them where they need to go. My influence as a contact just increased. You want contacts with wide reaches of topics.
You also want to be safe when you are networking. As you are researching people, keep an eye out for any reason to cut them off and avoid them. Yes, there are bad people out there. Some find us as we professionally and socially network.
When anyone asks you details about your life that you aren’t comfortable giving or is not part of the conversation at hand, block them. If they send you pictures of their genitals, block them. If they try to friend your family online especially your children, block them. Predators are out there. You don’t want to give them too much access to your life.
When I suggest researching people, I don’t mean getting deep into their lives. Don’t start stalking them or checking out their family pictures. You don’t want to cross lines. Just do enough to weed out bad elements.
Keep mostly to the professional side of things. If they write about their personal life, glean from it information you can use to connect with them. Don’t assume you know them from a blurb on a site. Follow them in a professional way.