Networking has a bad reputation as a forum for superficial small talk. Yet real networking is about establishing mutually beneficial, lasting connections, one person at a time. And with my modern approach to networking, even you can shine and thrive at a board meeting, convention, or free-floating cocktail party.
The reason so many of us hate networking – and profess to stink at it – is because we’ve been futilely following the wrong rules. Rules that only work for a paltry 15% of the population and require us to be phony – a sure fire way to short circuit.
Networking isn’t about working a room or telling everyone how fabulous you are. Real networking is building meaningful, lasting, mutually beneficial connections one person at a time.
This new and improved definition of networking means being true to you; capitalizing on your strengths, and tossing aside ‘rules’ that don’t match your temperament. The book’s self-assessment identifies your networking style. However, here are a few tidbits designed especially for you:
1. Be True To You
You are better qualified to be you than anyone else. Stamp out networking advice that demands you behave in ways that drain you. Harness natural abilities as networking strengths rather than liabilities. Like to listen, not talk? Do it. Energize alone? Go for it. Prefer one-on-one conversation? Arrange it.
2. Realize Less Is More
Be selective. Go to fewer events and be more focused when attending – rather than dragging your weary self to every business opportunity and showing up like a networking prisoner.
3. Plan Your First Impression
Cognitive scientists say it can take up to 200 times the amount of information to undo a first impression as it takes to make one. Who has that kind of spare time? Not you! Show up with the best version of you, every time. You never know who you are meeting.
Many of us dislike networking events because we don’t know what to say to a group of strangers. Free floating through a room is a fast track to free-floating anxiety. What to do? Simple. Volunteer to help out. Voila! You have a purpose and something to talk about. Even better, you position yourself as someone helpful – proving how indispensable you are rather than telling everyone about it.
5. Get In Line
This strategy is brilliant. You walk into a networking event with nowhere to go and no one to glom onto. What’s a desperate networker to do? Get in a queue. Any queue. The longer the better! Why? A queue gives you a place to put your body and a temporary purpose in the world. There are only two people to talk with – the person in front and person behind you. There is a reward – whatever is given out at the front of the queue. And a natural ending – the front of the queue. Nice meeting you! Ta-ta!
6. Set Challenging Yet Achievable Networking Goals
Well-formed goals vary by personality. At a networking event, task yourself with meeting one or two people, not a dozen. And follow up (see #10!).
7. Show Don’t Tell
Rather than boring others with a canned advert of how marvelous you are, demonstrate live-time your fabulous self. Be useful and gracious. Greet others with a warm smile and leap at every chance to be helpful.
Rather than wandering cavernous expo halls at industry events, do your pre-work. Learn in advance what organizations are of particular interest. Spend more time with fewer people. Impress key targets with your knowledge of who they are and why you are a perfect match.
Ever sense your remarks just shoot off a cliff and crash to the ground? Who needs that kind of pressure? Instead focus on those around you, asking thoughtful questions. Network via a sincere interest in others rather than promoting your fine self.
10. Follow-Up Or Forget About It
If you’re not following up, you’re not networking! We forget half of what we hear within 48 hours. Write personalized follow-up within two days or risk having your brilliant remarks erased permanently from the minds of those you wowed. If you’re not following up, you’re not networking.
reblogged from www.careerealism.com
Networking doesn’t have to be dry and forced if you don’t want it to be. In fact, it can be even more valuable if you don’t treat it that way. Below are six ways to make networking suck less.
Be passionate and make it fun. Instead of trying to “network,” try to have fun, get to know people and build mutually-beneficial relationships over time. Remember, meeting people is fun! Learn to appreciate the experience of getting to know someone and building a relationship. Talk about stuff you like to talk about and ask questions that you legitimately want to hear the answer to.
Don’t go to events. I actually hate the term “networking” because most people associate it with big conferences and events with lots of people selling things and giving out business cards. Don’t go to those kinds of events.
Don’t get me wrong, you can meet some awesome people at big events. Conferences and events are a great way to start meeting people in a given industry and forming a network. However, after building up an initial base, I’ve found that the best networking doesn’t happen at events.
Ask for introductions or reach out directly. Instead of going to events and hoping that you will serendipitously run into someone that you’d love to meet, be more intentional. Think strategically about the people you want to have in your network and make a list. Find them on LinkedIn, and if you have any common connections, ask the shared connection for an introduction. If you don’t have any common connections, try reaching out directly.
If you are someone they would benefit from knowing, they will gladly accept the introduction or respond to your outreach. To “warm up” your cold call, try interacting with them online by responding to their tweets or commenting on their blog. Make sure you have a strong online presence so that when they receive your or your shared contacts email they can easily see that you are someone they would benefit from knowing.
Host your own events. Invite a group of people and ask each of them to invite a couple more people. Good people usually know other good people, so if you invite good people, you will likely meet even more good people. The event could be a breakfast, happy hour, dinner, basketball game or pretty much anything you enjoy doing. Building relationships with your existing contacts is sometimes more valuable than meeting new people. In addition, by filtering this way, you’re more likely to meet great people.
Blog and tweet to reach a wider audience. Amazingly, blogging can actually help you accomplish several core networking strategies. Blogging is a great way to engage your existing contacts, as well as reach a new audience.
Writing content that’s valuable to your audience and displays your expertise is an effective way to reach a wider audience. It’s also more “scalable” in that it enables you to reach more people in the same amount of time than having individual meetings or attending individual events.
Connect with connectors. Connectors are people who know a lot of people and make a regular practice of introducing their contacts to each other. They spend a lot of time networking and meeting new people. Knowing connectors gives you more eyes on the world and saves you time. If and when they find someone that you would benefit from knowing, they will introduce you.
Re-blogged from Entrepreuer.com
About the Author: Mike Fishbein is the founder of Startup College and author of How to Build an Awesome Professional Network. Previously he was part of the founding team of a venture studio and corporate innovation firm.
Recently I was having a conversation with one of my daughters about what it takes to get ahead in life. It was a deep conversation, that as parents we are sometimes lucky enough to have with our children. After the conversation I found myself thinking about what it takes to get ahead in life and in business.
I suspect most of you would agree that hard work, commitment and a dedication to excellence are requirements. And sometimes a little luck comes our way as well…never a bad thing. But what I believe is that we also need to leverage who we know and learn not to go it alone. Strong statement when we taught that asking for help somehow demonstrates weakness and that using your connections to open doors is likened to being in the mob.
But we don’t have to go it alone or ignore those around us that we know can help us. Let’s be honest, having someone you know make an introduction for you can be incredibly helpful. If your friend, partner or colleague can introduce you to someone that forwards your career or provides opportunities you would not have otherwise isn’t that a good thing? You don’t have to fear that you are getting something for nothing or something you don’t deserve. While someone may make an introduction or put your resume at the top of the pile, only you can demonstrate your value and move the ball forward.
I want to give you a couple of personal examples to demonstrate my point. Many years ago one of my daughters wanted an internship with the CIA. We have a close friend who at that time held a very senior position at the CIA. He took my daughter’s resume to those involved with internships. She did get the internship and before she left that summer they had offered her a full time job after college. Did this friend secure the internship for her? Not likely. What I suspect is that when it came down to a couple of applicants who looked similar in education, background etc. his recommendation pushed her to the top of the pile. She however earned her job offer during her internship.
A year ago I conducted a sales training workshop for an organization. I met the president of the company at a conference I attended with my husband many years ago. Did I get the opportunity to conduct the workshop because of my husband? Only in the sense that I would not have met him had I not attended the conference. I earned the work however through my own efforts of follow-up, conversations and offering value even when there wasn’t a direct benefit to me. The referrals he has sent my way I earned because of a job well done.
The point is don’t be afraid to ask others to help you by making introductions or contacting someone on your behalf. We live and work in communities and meet hundreds of people throughout our life that would be honored to help us. All we have to do is ask. Next time you think someone can help you in some way ask them. The likelihood is you are giving them a gift as people truly want to help.
reblogged from the Incendo Group blog.