What If I Told You Networking Starts With
(This article is from a blog post in JersPassageway.com)
What if I told you networking is all about the love of people? That it’s all about helping and
caring for one another. Appreciating the essence of others. And being interested in them.
I know some people frown upon the word “networking” like it’s a bad word.
Well, how can you blame them when people fling their business cards around in
“networking” events, targeting the next person after the next and the next, just to see what
they can offer? Or even how they can get them to whip out their wallets for a fat cheque?
It’s disgusting. It really is.
I can’t tell you how much my life has changed over the past one year or so.
Just by being interested in people.
I stopped being selfish. And by that, I mean I go out of my way to help others and to serve. I
brought positive energies to others. I added value whenever I could. I didn’t wait for
opportunities to do that. I created them.
Some people have difficulty understanding this.
Why should I put in so much effort in helping him when the chances of getting something
valuable in return is close to zero?
I’m actually not here to tell you why. Because the only reason that you’ll probably like is that
if you don’t, the chances are zero, and if you do it’s just slightly above zero. That’s a terrible
reason to start with, and you’ll give up soon anyway.
All I’m going to say is that your relationship with the people around you is
EVERYTHING. Your relationships are the catalyst for success.
Always be building strong relationships.
It is important that before you start reading my “networking hacks,” you understand
the value of making genuine connections with people. If you don’t, none of them is going
to work for you.
You will soon be found out as a fraud. Trust me.
Another thing to note is that different networking hacks work differently depending on the
situation and context. Think about a gathering of about 15 people at someone’s house, of
which no one knew anyone other than the friends they came with. I had that in mind as I
Network Like A Pro With These 9 Simple “Hacks”
1. Your clique of friends
By that, I mean don’t sit with your friends. You should be spending AT LEAST 50% of your
time with people you don’t know. Stop being around your clique, you can talk to them all you
want on your trip back home. Or even tomorrow.
A good way to gauge is this. If the people around you can guess that you and the group
you’re chatting with are friends, then that’s a red flag.
The reason why I like this indicator is because people are less likely to talk to you when they
notice you have a clique of friends. And less confident people who show up with no friends
are also likely to feel intimidated when you do actually talk to these people.
Get away from your friends. Show that you’re open and an easy target for a conversation
by absolutely anyone.
You get the most out of a gathering by interacting with everyone in the room. If you’re
sticking with your own gang, you might as well just meet up without the rest.
2. Engaging that introvert
Almost ANYTHING you say to that quiet guy in the little corner is 10 times better than
“Why are you so quiet?”
I don’t care if he’s an introvert or an extrovert or whatever alien. If he’s been quiet for an
hour while almost everyone is being rowdy and having fun, then he’s the one I’m referring to.
Man, I hate that. I used to be asked this a lot when I was a kid.
Put yourself in the poor fellow’s shoes for a second there. What would you say?
Sometimes I would lie and say I’m thinking about something. Seriously, do you think I come
for a gathering to “think about something”?
I know for a fact that NO ONE likes to be left out. No one. No one comes to a gathering to
be quiet. We can be quiet all we want at home.
Talk to that “introvert” as though he’s just as loud as the rest in the room. He will be
surprised because most of the time they are expecting people to talk to them like they are
“weak with no friends.” This is a good strategy and he will appreciate it.
3. Keep topics relatable
Most of the time when people get quiet, they’ve lost the topic. If they can’t relate to what
you’re chatting about or are having difficulty doing so, then you’ve got to step in.
Don’t assume they’re not interested. Like I said, no one likes being left out.
Kindly explain the context to this person, or just talk about an entirely different thing.
Find ways to include them in your conversation. Perhaps connect what you’re talking about
with what they already know. Figure out what makes them excited to talk about.
I remember meeting up with 2 friends. They went on and on talking about their damned old
secondary school friends which I have no idea about, having studied in a different school.
After 30 minutes or so, one of the guys asked me.
“So what are you doing now?”
“Um, giving tuition and blogging?”
4. Be a good listener
Stop talking about yourself so much and listen more. Stop your darned monologue.
One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say. —
Bryant H. McGill
You have 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason. Show that what he’s saying matters by learning
the art of listening.
Listening is active, hearing is passive. They’re different.
5. Be a leader
This just means you’re making sure you’re genuinely connecting with as many people as
possible and that everyone else is doing the same.
Constantly observe your surroundings. Be aware of the “introverts” and engage them if
they’ve been quiet for too long. When someone loses the topic, explain the context or change
Be a connector. Don’t let others be strangers to your friends for too long.
Be consciously making sure everyone is included. Put yourself in everyone’s shoes. You
want them all to leave the gathering feeling like it was worth coming right?
I don’t know about you, but the way I measure my networking success at such gatherings is
by seeing how many people I manage to have at least one meaningful conversation with.
6. Follow up!
Don’t be afraid to add everyone from the gathering to your Facebook.
This is your chance to get to know another person if it does happen that you didn’t manage to
have at least one meaningful conversation with everyone. And for those you did have a good
time with, why not take the relationship further?
There are many ways to initiate that conversation on Facebook. Be creative and don’t be
afraid of looking like an idiot. People who aren’t are usually far ahead of the majority in the
game of life.
You don’t necessarily have to be constantly in touch. Staying in contact is powerful
I used to be very selective with who I added to Facebook, and I even disliked the fact that
people randomly added people they hardly knew. I thought, why should someone be on my
friend list when they aren’t really my friends?
Hell, why do I even need something like Facebook to tell me who my REAL friends are?
Now I choose to see social media as a platform for networking, socializing, and just having
fun. And I’m finally seeing the benefits. Who said you couldn’t do all that with people who
aren’t your “friends”?
Treat them as one and they will be. Everyone is a friend. You just haven’t met them yet.
The next 3 points are the PILLARS of networking. These apply ALL the time, and
EVERYWHERE you go.
7. Offer massive value
Always be looking for ways to help. Don’t wait for people to ask for it. And help like crazy.
Do more than what’s expected of you. Go out of your way to help and sacrifice your time
for them. Because I really believe time is one of the most precious gifts you can give
Don’t underestimate the value you have to offer. You might not be be able to help directly,
but if you are resourceful, you can connect them with someone who you know will be able to
help. You could even do some research on your own.
Just recently, I had an eye injury. I think it’s called Recurrent Corneal Erosion (RCE). I had
this injury about 8 months ago and I’m not sure why it came back.
If you were in my shoes, how much would you appreciate someone going out of his way to
research on this injury on the net, finding out the best treatment for it, etc.? Quite a lot right?
The average person would say, “get well soon,” “see a doctor,” and even “sounds serious!”
Not saying that these people are bad, just saying that they won’t stand out. And of course, I
understand this isn’t a game of standing out. The fact remains that I will appreciate the one
who puts in the effort to offer massive help or value.
Adding value also isn’t necessarily about the tangible.
If you’re inspiring and motivating others, if you can make someone smile or laugh, if you can
bring positive energies to someone’s life, that’s all adding value.
Give freely to the world these gifts of love and compassion. Do not concern yourself with how
much you receive in return, just know in your heart it will be returned. — Steve Maraboli
8. Be interested
Be interested in people. Period.
I used to just mind my own business. Me and my precious flute. I didn’t think I needed to be
interested in the lives of other people. And that was exactly the problem. I wasn’t interested.
Now I’ve made so many great connections just by shifting the focus from me, myself, and I,
to the people around me.
Find out what makes people come alive. Appreciate the essence of people. And again, listen
to them attentively because what they say matters.
What makes them tick?
What makes them lose sleep over?
What are they building?
What challenges are they currently facing?
You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you
can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. — Dale Carnegie
9. Be genuine
Last but not least, you cannot make any real connections without being genuine.
Be yourself and people will love you. Okay, I know the “be yourself” advice is outdated and
needs more in-depth elaboration. I might cover that in a future post.
You might not be really interested in every single person. If so, don’t bother trying.
Always be thinking of ways to add value. Be interested in people. Be genuine.
The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity. – Keith Ferrazzi
~Helping you become the best version of yourself~
Jeremy writes about everything Personal Growth at his blog, Jer’s Passageway. Do give his
blog a visit, he would love to connect with you!