8 Ways to Super Charge Your Networking
I love meeting new people. Being an extrovert, I always get a big kick out of it. You never know who or what is around the corner. Whether you’re looking to find new openings for work, or you simply want to let you hair down, there’s nothing like finding an environment where you feel at home and meet new people.
You can end up talking to lots of people, before you see the results you want. Take Ben Silberman, the founder of Pinterest. He ended up kissing over north of 300 frogs until he finally found the person who invested. Or there’s KFC founder, Colonel Sanders, having to have 1009 meetings before his recipe was taken up. How many frogs are you kissing? How many are you willing to?
So whether you’re networking to raise funding, meet a co-founder, get doors to open up with partnerships, or just fancy a bit of a knees up, here’s 7 ways to supercharge your networking.
Go. Don’t put it off. Don’t come up with an excuse. Don’t start feeling nervous that you’re feel like a pleb- get out there and get meeting. Everyone else is in the same boat (well they’re not- but they were once). Get present and get there. The biggest battle is often getting in the room.
2. Choose the right event
Now that you want to get out there, don’t be a busy fool. I always go off recommendations of people, organisations or events that I trust. There’s enough out there, so you’re never going to be shy of an opportunity. Who’s speaking? Who’s tweeting about it in advance? Which of your friends are going to be there. I met Simon Willison, founder of Lanyrd last week, and his platform is a great idea to see which of your friends are at which conferences.
3. Get following the hashtag
It’s great when you can connect with those around you. Simple way to do this is through commenting about the speakers and the content. Not only is it stimulating- but it’s also very entertaining. Pick out the nuggets that are being shared, and provide a commentary for those both at the event and outside the venue. And when lots of conferences get using the likes of Leaderboarded it adds a gamification layer.
4. Good social skills
Emotional maturity and good social skills make all the difference. Listen, ask questions and be genuinely interested. Everyone loves to talk about themselves- so let them do the talking. You’ll learn some amazing insights. Give them a fresh angle on something they haven’t heard about before. Spend some time picking out some great questions you think they may enjoy sharing and you’d love to know. It’s not about being nosy, it’s not about lacking authenticity, but take your time and recognise to really make a connection takes building up trust. Make eye contact, have open body language, don’t be afraid of touch… yet respect people’s private space. Download my free eBook describing 30 ways to improve your listening skills.
5. Let your guard down
We’re trained not to trust people and where does that get us. Yes. We’ve all been in situations where we’ve trusted and we’ve regretted it, but equally, isn’t it better to give people the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. Holding everything tight to your chest just gives you heartburn. A level of wisdom and discernment is needed, but if you don’t share, you don’t connect.
6. Play it forward
Don’t be selfish, greedy, self centred or caught up in your own world. People don’t help people they don’t like. Give away and be grateful for the opportunity to give. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but if you’re heart is one to serve, this will be offered to you. And if it isn’t, chances are you’re not gravitating to the right people that you want to know. Think who you can introduce each person you are meeting on to. What would help them? How can you assist?
7. Be organised
Business cards. Ask for the card. Jot down a reminder on the card of who you spoke to. Upload it to your phone with Cam Card and be sure to connect with them there and then on Twitter, LinkedIn or drop them an email. If you offered to make the introduction- make it. Tag the contact, and keep the connection flowing. So many people start connections, but then aren’t intentional enough to follow them on. Such wasted opportunities.
8. Be Flexible
It starts in the meeting, but it goes where it goes. Stick around to the end- there’s nearly always a group of people going along somewhere else. Everyone’s relaxed a bit, the speakers aren’t being hassled, people have gravitated towards their friends and the major necessary catching up has been done. Now people let their guard down and a group forms and moves on. If the event finishes at 6, leave yourself wiggle room should you need to be out late. It’s a lot easier to know in advance it may come, then to not plan ahead and be unable to join in.
How do you go about effectively networking with others? I’d love to hear in the comments below.