What NOT to share when networking

This past Saturday I led a session on networking at a Career Day event hosted by the Carolina Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication. One of the topics I covered in the session was networking phobias—the reasons people give for not networking—and one of those phobias is the idea that you don’t want other people to “know your business.” Although not a good reason to avoid networking, it is a good reminder that there are certain things we should keep to ourselves. An article posted recently on entrepreneur.com provides an excellent overview of “12 Things Successful People Never Reveal about Themselves at Work,” which can also serve as a list of things not to discuss when networking!

Not all 12 items are relevant to job searching, but the items that are fall into several categories:

When talking about work, don’t

  • Say that you hate your job
  • Describe co-workers as incompetent
  • Reveal your salary

When talking about your personal life, don’t

  • Discuss your religious or political views
  • Describe your sex life (or anyone else’s, for that matter!)
  • Talk about your alcohol consumption
  • Tell stories about your misspent youth

One final suggestion that doesn’t fall into either of those categories: Don’t tell offensive jokes. And if you’re not sure if your listeners would find the joke offensive, err on the side of caution and assume that they would!