The number one reason people fail at networking and social media is because they’re not interesting enough. Are you one of those people that everybody dies to meet? If you’re not, this is how you can become that person.
There’s nothing more annoying than meeting someone who talks about themself for half an hour. Be genuinely interested in other people. Ask them about their work, their families and their lives. Don’t be afraid of asking personal questions. When I ask people about their feelings, first they are surprised but then they’re glad someone asked. This is because most of the time people love to share this kind of thing but they feel that nobody really seems to care enough.
Be a Connector
Showing up to events is OK, but if you want to take networking to the next level, put together your own events. Gather like-minded people together. This is such a rewarding thing to do! It could be lunch, a workshop or happy hour. And, always look for opportunities to connect people. If you know someone who needs a website and someone who builds websites, connect them. Be the person who knows everyone and can connect people who should be talking to each other.
When you meet someone new, don’t think about what you can sell them. Talk to them. Get to know them. Ask questions. Have a good time. Help them a lot, for free. You need to establish value first. You need to be someone other people want to spend time with.
Probably the number one mistake people make when networking is being phony. Don’t do this. Be yourself. Sometimes I feel like talking to a bunch of people and sometimes I feel like sitting quietly and listening to others. I’m not afraid of sharing my failures or laughing at my mistakes. I love showing my human side. I think I’m pretty funny so I joke a lot, but if I weren’t, I wouldn’t try to force it. I don’t drink so I don’t go to happy hours; I prefer to meet for a cup of tea or lunch. A good way to tell whether you’re being fake is to imagine what your best buddy would say if they saw you. If they’d say “I didn’t know that side of you. Who are you trying to be?”, you know you need to just relax and be who you are.
Read books, travel and be passionate about learning new things. I pride myself in being able to have a very smart conversation on anything from business and politics to extreme sports and music. I speak five languages and have been to every continent on Earth. I’m not trying to brag. I just have a lot of interests and hobbies and love doing new things. And, as a result, chances are I can talk to pretty much anyone and we’ll probably have something in common.
People with calm personalities are better perceived than people who are stressed. People who talk slower are better perceived than people who talk fast, eat fast and run from one place to the other. Relax. Meditate. Slow down.
Ask for Feedback
I ask some people what first impression they got from me. I ask them to be honest. It’s really interesting how the way we see ourselves is so different from the way others see us.
If you see meeting people as a means to an end, you’re doomed to fail. Meet people because it’s fun to do so. People can smell hidden interests from miles away.
And one last piece of advice: meet diverse people. Don’t judge anyone. Differences are fascinating. You can learn a lot more from someone who’s very different from you than from someone who’s exactly like you.