When you’re good at something, it’s easy to take it for granted and just assume that everyone knows what you know.
I often find myself wondering why people are so bad at connecting with each other when suddenly I realise “Oh yeah, I’ve been running a community for 5 years, I should be good at it by now, duh” .
So I’m sharing my top 5 tips for not sucking at networking, and hopefully you’ll end up being quite good at it!
Be genuinely interested
Ever had that experience of being in a conversation and watching their eyes start to glaze and glance over your shoulder at something more interesting in the distance? Yeah, you were talking too long. So lesson #1 is listen .
There are, I’ve found, two types of listening. ‘Passive’ 🚫 and ‘active’ ✅. The former is where we simply listen to respond, with the emphasis on what we can’t wait to say next, whereas the latter – the more powerful of the two – is active, where you are genuinely interested in hearing what the other person has to say.
Why? Well first of, it’s far more polite to actually care but mainly because listening as much as you can helps you to find out all about someone’s situation, circumstances, challenges – all fantastic ammo for you to use in business development. After all, how much easier would it be to sell your product to the person you’re conversing with, if they just told you they have the problem your product solves? 😏
Be a super-connector
The best way to build social currency and networks is to connect people with one another. I’ve practiced this so much that people often class me as the best person they know anywhere, that does this (and I’m starting to become confident saying it myself now too #impostersyndrome/#humblebrit )
With enough practice, you can build an uncanny ability to know who does what, where, why, what their challenges are, what drives them and how. With this info you can start to instantly connect dots in your mind between who would benefit from meeting who.
If you can make it so that every connection, where possible, is a win/win for each party, you’ll build valuable social currency with those people who will hold you in higher regard and owe you a bit of a favour. Then you can call on those favours/use that social currency when you need to.
This is exactly how Yena was built on a £0 budget.
Don’t be creepy
Yes, lol .
This is sadly not practiced enough though and people easily fall-down on it 😫.
What I’m talking about is, in a physical situation, people who can’t read body language and stay in a conversation too long, or where they’re not welcome; or in a digital capacity, people that email once a week to chase, or want to book in a coffee with zero need whatsoever.
Business is like dating (as you’ll have read in a previous YENA/#FYI email) and being too keen isn’t attractive. Chill out a bit and, as ironic as it sounds, if you can make it so that you’re intriguing to potential clients/leads/contacts then networking will be easier than ever because people will want to meet you, not avoid you!
Give, give, give. Up to a point, of course, as if you’re a for profit, you’re gonna want to sell something. But giving unconditionally – if it’s introductions, opportunities, advice, resources, time, lunch… whatever it is, helps build valuable social currency with the people you give it to.
While networking physically, or digitally, can you give someone advice, connections, links, opportunities that they will truly, deeply value? If you can, then not only will you be building a stronger network with people who are far more likely to recommend you but it becomes so much easier to get them to buy from you — why do you think I send so many of these emails?! — Sign up as a member here!
It’s all in the follow-up
People often find it ironic considering what I do for a living that I don’t carry business cards with me anymore. I used to be obsessed with having the best ones but I realised that if I actually focused on delivering enough of a personality and value up front then people would inherently want to connect anyway.
As we live in the 21st century now, we can do this instantly on our phones so I’d rather save the trees on my end. However, if they have a card, I’ll 100% take one because it puts me in control of the timing of the follow-up.
Timing is a powerful thing because it means I can define when I respond, allowing me to sets the value perception of the relationship, and the ‘business like dating’ metaphor can kick in.
I.e. If you text someone 2 seconds after leaving your first date, that’s a bit keen, but If I email 24-48 hours after a meeting (which is likely anyway due to being mega busy ) then it sets the right value perception of how valuable my time is to them.
This doesn’t always happen of course, only when it needs to and is appropriate. I don’t often delay emails for the reasons here but I 100% have done to set the right tone and I’d absolutely recommend you give it a go too!
It’s important to also consider how you follow-up. If there’s an immediate next step then email/phone, yes. However, if there isn’t put them in the ‘digital keep-net’ that is social media and keep them warm with occasional engagements until something comes up that you can collab on/reach out about.
Honestly, I can talk about all this for days on end, which is why I’m building out content on being a ‘super connector’ around building powerful networks, social currency and personal brands So if you’d like me to do a talk at your organisation, drop me an email. 🖋