One of the most useful things you can do for personal and professional success is to network effectively. And as with most activities, there is a right way to network and a wrong way to network.
If you have the time, I recommend reading ‘Never Eat Alone’, which is the seminal work on networking and Ferrazzi has a talent for describing the most effective techniques of Networking in an easily understood and accessible way.
If you don’t have the time or the inclination for the big volume then here are some tips for networking:
1. Talk to anyone about anything. Participate in other peoples thinking as much as possible as no one is as smart as all of us are together and you never know who has the innovative solution to your problem.
2. Develop a high tolerance for ambiguity as opening yourself up to other ideas will often result in your challenging your own ideas, beliefs and sometimes even your values.
3. Don’t enter a discussion with an attitude of getting something out of it. By going into a discussion with a viewpoint of giving more than you hope to receive will make you appear truly sincere and helpful and not just out to use the relationship for your own ends.
4. Have a fearless attitude because starting a conversation with people who you don’t know can often be intimidating. Get comfortable with this feeling and you will look at networking as a delight rather than something to fear.
5. Always think about the connections that you could help each person make. One of the most beneficial influences that good networkers develop is being a social node, a person who people will contact just to get to another person in the network. If you add value to relationships you nurture, everyone profits over time.
6. Go on gut instinct. If you think the connection won’t endure, move on. You have to be happy with the person you are networking with in order connect them with others that know and trust you with their details.
7. Expand your conversational topics and your sense of humour. Being confidence when you discuss topics or being able to break the ice with a humorous comment will make you a person that is happy with networking and someone that people will want to network with, making the problem of making the first approach disappear!
8. Have a way of keeping track of the people you meet and what they talk about. It is the chance to think about how they fit into your network and who would benefit from knowing and how they could benefit from others in your network.
9. Maintain the integrity to yourself and your network. People are trusting you with their personal information. Live up to that trust.
If you look at the most successful people, they are generally those people that have the largest network, touch each element of it regularly and add value to all those with whom they connect.
Dare to Aspire