I believe that no matter what you do in life, having a great network is the best way to be successful. People like doing business with people they know and like. The more people know and like you, the better you’ll do.
These are 10 tips to become a better networker.
Be The Smaller Fisher in the Room
Most networking groups suck. Their members are there to GET something and most people have nothing to GIVE. Don’t surround yourself with people who are where you are. Surround yourself with people who are where you want to be. You’ll learn more, make more valuable connections and have a much better time. I like paid events much better than free events, because the audience is always of much higher quality.
Nobody Is Unreachable
Some people freak out about reaching out to “celebrities” or very successful people. Don’t. They’re people, just like you. If you admire someone, tell them so. Offer to buy lunch or a beer. The worst-case scenario will be them giving you a very polite “no” due to their busy schedule, but this rarely happens. Most of the time they’ll say yes if you’re flexible to meet them whenever and wherever they can. Aim big!
Focus on Helping Others
Quoting JFK, “It’s not what your connections can do for you; it’s what you can do for your connections.” This is very, very important.
Don’t Have an Agenda
Most networking gurus recommend having a goal for their networking efforts. I don’t agree. I’m fascinated by people. Everyone has a story to tell. I always become smarter and happier after meeting with someone. It’s fun and very rewarding. Do a lot of it! Don’t have an agenda. Just meet with people. Have a good time, connect and share some stories. You never know what’s going to come from each meeting. Sometimes it’s a friendship, sometimes it’s a clients, sometimes it’s someone who introduces us to someone great and sometimes it’s nothing more than having lunch with an amazing person.
I’m not really sure if this is something you’re born with or something you can acquire. But you know what I’m talking about: some people are interesting and some people aren’t. Be yourself. Dare to speak your mind. Read a lot and share your opinions candidly. Do crazy things and share your stories. People are attracted to people who are unique, so don’t try to “fit in”. Everybody else is fitting in; you should be sticking out.
Focus on Quality, Not Quantity
Last month I went to a networking event. I don’t like them at all. I like meeting people in more informal ways or through connections. Anyway, at this event a guy approached me, introduced himself, told me about his company, asked me about mine, didn’t listen to a single word I said and then excused himself to go talk to the next person. He said, “You know, so many people to meet and so little time!” What’s the point of making an awful impression on 100 people? Wouldn’t you rather really click with one person?
Be a Connector
Connect people who have a lot in common or can help each other. I do this all the time. It feels good and the people I connect always appreciate it. It’s a great way to help others.
Shut Up and Listen
There’s nothing more annoying than someone who talks too much about themselves. Show genuine interest for the people you meet. Ask them about their lives. Find something you have in common with them and you’ll have found a great, fun topic to talk about.
Networking is a little hard for some shy people. I think that’s because of their expectations. If you approach networking understanding that networking it’s not prospecting and that some people will like you and some won’t, you’ll do great.
Enjoy the Process
And finally, have fun networking! Don’t do anything you don’t want to do. If there’s someone you don’t want to meet, don’t do it. Only meet with people you like. If someone is boring, excuse yourself and walk away. Meeting people is an amazing experience. Good luck with it!