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“Networking”. What an interesting concept – broad yet concrete at the same time, challenging yet super rewarding.
Networking is defined by many things:
Nevertheless, networking can also bring:
Engaging with professionals through various environments and events is a true art. It is the art of effectively conveying your communication mastery in various ways – body language, eye contact, tone of voice, the topics you approach, the way you look at things, the charisma you embody, and much more.
When you first start out as a networker, you’re basically a prey in a sea of sharks. To make networking worthwhile, profitable, and truly satisfying, you’ll need to become the biggest shark.
In today’s post, I’m sharing more tips, tricks, and strategies, which if you consistently apply, will change the face of your networking journey and will skyrocket your odds of becoming the best. Check this out, and pay some real attention!
Basics, Principles, and Mindset
1. Networking is not a talent that you’re born with. It is a skill that can be developed in time, through practice and discipline. Obviously, the art of networking supposes true passion and a real sense of purpose and direction.
2. Finding it hard to talk to people during events is common. If you’re an introvert, this is one of your biggest life tests, one that I’m sure you’ll pass. If you find networking truly difficult, remember that you can overcome that by allowing yourself constantly to be dragged out of your comfort zone.
3. Networking isn’t about wearing masks. It’s about being you. It’s about genuinity, strategy, and flexibility. When you mimic somebody else’s body language only because you know that it helps at building rapport, you’re not wearing a mask – that is being you, applying your skills. People seek real people, not masks!
4. Quit thinking about what went wrong. Honestly, most of the people you’ve talked to won’t even realize that “mistake you did”, the one that you obssess about in your head.
5. You should be looking for strong and selective connections rather than many insignificant ones. Quality over quantity. Most people are used to collecting various skills, certificaitons, and CV components, so they’ll often try to “collect” as many people (human resources) while at networking events. That’s not the way to go!
6. Network without expectations. If you are able to restrict yourself from making any expectations, you’ll protect yourself from many dissapointments. Some people are serious, others are not. Don’t even fall into the trap of believing that your connections are “like you”.
7. Focus but be flexible when choosing the events. This means that you should mainly aim to connect with professionals through industry-related events, though you shouldn’t neglect networking events that happen to be outside of your area of expertise.
Before a Networking Event
8. Find a good reason why you should attend an event. Listen. Your time is limited, and so is your energy, attention, and motivation. Try to choose only events that you truly think they’re productive and helpful. Keep your personal standards high and linked to your long-term purpose.
9. Use the list of attendees in your advantage. Many events have atendees lists, where you can find the names of the people who will attend. Before the event, make sure you identify a handful of individuals to specifically target. You can also “break the ice” before the event by getting in touch through email or phone and organizing a short 1-to-1 meeting before or throughout the event.
10. Make sure that your social media presence is neat and professional. You never want to expose your personal side, like pictures with your girlfriend, boyfriend, or anything not related to work. Keep your professional image intact at all costs.
11. Volunteer to help at organizing various events. If you’re totally new at networking, you can get in touch with the organizers and offer your help. You can learn many things while preparing the event and by connecting with the people who do what you plan to do for decades.
At a Networking Event
12. Talk to organizers first. These people’s job is to improve your networking experience, so by saying “Hi, thanks for this awesome opportunity” you’re opening great opportunities. Do some small chat and ask if there’s anyone you should meet or if there’s anything you should. Asking for recommendations is an easy way to initiate conversations.
13. Target open groups. During a networking event, you’ll usually find two types of groups: open and closed. The closed ones look closed because the people who constitute them have decided to keep it between them. Open groups are open because they allow other people to easily approach and enter a conversation.
14. Stay away from alcohol. Treat networking as work, and keep your tongue away from alcohol. First off, a true professional will never drink in important circumstances. Secondly, alcohol will make you dumber, less focused, and can damage your professional reputation.
15. Save the pitches for later. Networking events are not really great places to pitch people to your projects, business, gigs, or tasks. You can’t expect someone to trust you after they’ve just met you.
During a Conversation
16. Focus on simplicity. Simply salute people. Say “Hi, how are you?” or “How’s the day going?” and simply smile. See if you get an initial connection. If you do, that’s a good sign you should follow up with various questions. Don’t go philosophical though!
17. Always try to remember the person’s name. You can use this as a leverage during the conversation. By remembering their name, you can call it two or three times throughout the discussion. That does wonders!” – Brian Clark, CEO at EssayShark.
18. Build rapport by identifying common interests. What do people like? They like people that look, think, feel, or act the same way they do. If you have many things in common with a person, you’ll just “know it”. If you inspect even further by discussing with that person, you’ll be able to identify relevant common interests that’ll strengthen your rapport and connection.
19. Don’t make up mutual connections. Meeting somebody once and talking to him for two minutes doesn’t mean that you actually know that person. Therefore, stay away from calling “common connections” when they’re actually not because you may make a fool of yourself.
20. People like to talk about themselves, so give them that chance. Ask questions and listen. Truly listen – don’t just act like you are. Pay attention to the clues they leave – listening to somebody means learning about them.
21. Be optimistic, positive, and bring good vibes. Whether you agree or not, positivity is a great asset in every professional’s life. Only optimistic professionals can become true masters in their art. Additionally, when you’re positive during events, people will remember your face and will associate it with good things.
22. Be diplomatic and never interrupt people while talking. This is common sense. And yet, many networkers lack this basic skill and rule. Don’t interrupt people while they’re talking – it’s rude and unprofessional.
After the Event
23. Get used to follow up one week after each event. Note down the people that you’ve met, few details about them, the topics you’ve discussed, and “get back to them” in one week. Send them an email and let them know that you’re grateful for meeting them, mention something from your discussion, and let that person know that you’re eager to get in touch again.
24. Become a connector. Once you meet more and more people, you’ll be able to “connect the dots” and introduce professionals to other professionals. This is a true form of value that every professional is looking for consciously or unconsciously.
25. Focus on strengthening your connections and nurture your relationships. Making friends is not hard – keeping them is. People need to have a reason to stay in touch with you or to give you their time, attention, or money. Don’t prioritize the “what’s in it for you”. Simply aim to be kind, valuable, and truly helpful.
26. Get used to ask for people’s permission. This means that you shouldn’t simply call a connection and say “Hi man, here’s what I’m thinking … idea, idea, idea. That would mean intruding your peer’s time. Here’s how it should go “Hi man, I got this brilliant idea about X that I think you should know about, is that fine?” Generally, you’ll get a yes.
Becoming a great networker is no easy job, so don’t expect it to be. There’s a thin line between busy and productive. The same line is persistent between a professional and a master professional (or an artist, as I call it.).
Passion, ingenuity, and humbleness should be present, along with consistency, resilience, and open-mindness. Being focused on growing your networking knowledge, skills, and connections is one of the safest way to become a true professional regardless of your work’s industry. So, what are you waiting for? Put all these tips in action and rock and roll!