You need other people. Nobody succeeds alone.
Engagement is crucial in everything we do. On your own, in a dark room, it wouldn’t take long before you came to a stop because you needed skills that you didn’t have. From learning how to do it yourself, to finding someone who will do it for you, other people need you and you need other people.
How do you make contact with these people and begin a relationship? It’s not that difficult. Below, I list 20 top tips toward mastering networking.
- Don’t judge, remain open. Opinions only seek to close off opportunities.
- You won’t know unless you try. Don’t be afraid to make the first move. Waiting for people to come to you doesn’t work.
- What have you got to lose? You won’t lose anything if you reach a dead end, yet you’ll gain so much if you find an in. Your choice.
- Do it all year round. Quiet moments can yield huge gains. Busy times bring everyone out. There is no specific networking season unless you count ‘always’ as a period of time.
- If networking with a specific purpose, prepare beforehand. General networking is pretty open once you have a basic set of openers and ideas. For more specialised pitches or a focus on targetted individuals, you need to have a plan.
- Don’t think of your contacts as useful, see them as people.
- Introduce other people to the conversation. Have you ever heard that you should act like the host at events, even if you’re not the host? I’ve used this trick a couple times before. Not only will you be memorable (for the right reasons), but you network by bringing others together to network too. When this technique works, it works incredibly well.
- Focus on the person, don’t let your attention slip. I think of it as paying ‘Bill Clinton attention’. When Clinton communicates with people, it seems as if his entire attention has turned to that one person. It’s like he switches off the world around him, but not to the point where he’s just staring in an uncomfortable manner. While I haven’t spoken to Clinton personally, I’m pretty sure if I did he would come across this way.
- Help others. Be useful. Just take Twitter as an example. One of the best things about Twitter is when people help others by offering recommended links, answering people’s questions, and putting in a good word for others.
- Keep tabs and remain on track even when an association naturally ends. Unless you don’t like the person and you’ve totally moved on from that line of work/life, there’s no point in burning bridges.
- Don’t expect from others without trying to make an impact yourself.
- By all means find as many people to network with as you want, but focus on the quality of the contacts rather than the number you’ve collected.
- Don’t expect the world. It’s not like you’re owed a favour. Asking isn’t ordering. If you’re turned down, accept it.
- Don’t expect instant results. Networking takes time. That person you’ve known since you were 6…who’d have thought they would be the perfect contact now you’re 34?
- Be kind. People like to be complimented and like to know you care. Don’t be false, but do be appreciative and thankful when you can.
- Talk about the weather. We’re human. We don’t talk shop all day. Smalltalk is not just reasonable, it’s required.
- Show an interest in others. An interest…not an obsession.
- Go gently. A pushy attitude won’t get you far. You’re building a network, not recruiting soldiers.
- Change with the times. It’s easier than ever to network. You have access to millions of wonderful minds via an Internet connection. You don’t need to leave the house. But wherever you are and whatever platform you use, be prepared to go where the people are. They don’t come to you, you go to them!
- You are the key…Not your tools, not your business card, not the money spent, not the gifts you lavish upon them, not anything else. YOU are the key.