Everybody does networking, and nobody is sure they are doing it right. You can read how-to articles all day long. The web is full of them. There just doesn’t seem to be a definitive list of how to network effectively. Here’s my list that I know works. If you follow these tips, I guarantee they’ll work for you, too.
- Be interested – Be more interested in others and their journey than you are about telling them about your present need.
- Be helpful – Everybody needs help. Everybody! And you can help them, even if it is just by really listening to them.
- Be transparent – We connect with people who show who they are. When I worked in Miami Beach, the Jewish community I served called me a “mensch.” It means “person” in German, but in Yiddish, it means an authentic person.
- Be vulnerable – We are not perfect, but we sure put a lot of effort into looking perfect. You want to connect with someone? Share your fears, failures, and future.
- Be Present – When you are talking to someone, engage with them. Look into their eyes and not all over the room. When the person is in front of you, treat them like you are the only two people in the room.
- Be specific – People will eventually ask what you do. Be ready to tell them, and be ready to ask for how they might help you. But you must be specific.
- Be mindful of their time – Yes. Even you get boring. Watch their body language. They will tell you when they have had enough of you. Honor that by moving on.
- Be on purpose – You are networking for a reason. First to help them and then to help you. Be clear on your why.
- Be involved – Be involved in the right projects with the right communities with the right people. I made the best long-term relationships in my life as a volunteer. It will give you a reason to connect that is of a higher purpose than your individual needs.
- Be in touch – If it makes sense, stay in touch. At a minimum, send a follow-up email or text to tell them you enjoyed your short time together. Be patient with newly created relationships. You need time to build trust, common purpose, and benefit.
- Be visible – Pick your community and stay active in the community. Facebook, Twitter, blogging, speaking, volunteering, and showing up at regular meetings all contribute to visibility.
- Be back in touch – If you told the person you met you would do something for them, do it, even if it is a simple thing like sharing a contact. Start building your reputation as someone who can be trusted to get stuff done. It doesn’t take much to be in the top 1% of the people they meet.
Hope these help. It’s a long list, but none are difficult. Adopt these networking tips as part of your daily operating system and watch your network grow.