Wednesday, October 23, 2013

10 Quick Networking tips for the haters

A few people have asked me about networking. I'm no professional, and in fact get quite turned off by those who think they are. I have kinda figured out what works for me though.

Below are 10 tips I've found help with professional networking:

  1. Quality v. Quantity - there's a place for both these kinds of networking. Depending on what method of network you're using (online or offline) the strength of tie is likely to vary. For example, building a relationship with someone over LinkedIn, while hard, is possible, and may result in a slightly weaker tie than a family friend who works in the same industry and city as you. That's fine. A spectrum exists, and can be really handy at different points in a career.
  2. Only go to events, places, mixers, conferences, companies that excite you. I love Jess Hagy's image to really drive this home:
  3. Follow up immediately. I mean, have you ever been annoyed at someone doing something for you promptly? No. Consider how good an impression it would be then, to *actually* send someone that article, make that email introduction, share that resource.
  4. Be honest. Don't tell your new conference buddy that you're gonna lunch with them every week from here until eternity if you know very well your only chance to run is at lunch. Instead, be honest and try to find a compromise.
  5. Don't feel guilty. No one expects you to be great at this, or make x new contacts in your personal professional network each month. If they do, you're in sales buddy, and you better get comfy with networking. Otherwise, cut yourself a break and quit the guilt trip.
  6. Think about the long term and short term. Both kinds of relationships are useful. It's great to have someone you can reach out to for a quick answer, and you'll never know when keeping in touch with that florist-slash-acrobat is going to come in handy.
  7. Listen more than you talk. It's cliche, but you have two ears and one mouth. Use them accordingly. Who is the most interesting person you talked to lately? Why did they hold your attention? The best people to talk to are the ones who want to know all about us.
  8. Don't be elsewhere. Be in the room. Don't be in your phone, bag, drink, buddy's conversation. Be present in the conversation you're having. Anything less is an insult.
  9. Focus on the other. If you're focused on the other person that you're meeting, it's more than likely they'll feel seen, heard and valued. They're much more likely to want to hear about who you are from there.
  10. Authenticity is king. Be real. Just be normal. If the new person doesn't know the real you, how are they going to know if they want to keep in touch? It's that simple.