Even though there are like, 5,000 articles online providing advice on how to network effectively, some people still manage to really suck at it.
If you’ve taken the time to register, dress to impress, and drive to an event with the hopes to make some new contacts, it’s important to remember that it’s not about you. It’s about everyone you’re about to meet. It’s about getting out of your own way and listening to what they have to say and actually being interested.
I don’t think I need to remind you of the old saying, “It’s not WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know”, but I just did. Now, this isn’t always the case, but more often than not, who you know can completely change the game.
Need proof? Ok.
I’m a college drop out.
I have taught at one of the top Universities in Ohio.
I taught an upper level elective course.
All of my students had more formal education than I.
How does that happen?
I networked. I connected. I built relationships with the right people who somehow figured out that I had something to offer their students. I’ve been given so many other amazing opportunities that I am so grateful for, purely because I’ve never been afraid to talk to strangers, share my stories, and listen to others tell theirs. I am obsessed with meeting new people and building relationships. I have spoken to more college classes than I have actually attended as a student. Now, I’m not recommending anyone screw up his or her college GPA the way I did. I’m simply trying to make sure you’re get this.
Networking is HUGE. And quite honestly, most people are screwing it up. So pay attention to these 5 tips to being a little better at networking.
1. Remember Names
Ever been chatting with someone and had this thought:
“Dear Lord, have mercy. I’m talking to this guy and I know we can help each other out, but I can’t remember his name for the life of me.”??
It’s ok; I know you’ve been there. Sometimes names just slip away, but you need to train yourself to remember them.
TIP: When someone introduces themselves to you, introduce yourself back and include their name. For an example; “Hi, [insert their name here]. I’m Jeff.” Then continue to repeat their name from time to time during the conversation. The sweetest sound in the world to anyone is the sound of their own name. That’s why, when someone says your name from the other side of a noisy room, you still hear it.
And if you do happen to forget their name (it happens), just politely apologize and ask them to repeat it. It’s all good. They’ll just be happy to have you make that sweet sound again.
2. Show Up On Time
If you’ve taken the time to go to an event, take the time to plan to get there on time and to stay the whole time. Showing up late or hustling out way early does not show everyone you’re busy and important. Instead, it is a clear sign to everyone there that you don’t know how to manage your time.
TIP: Clear a little extra time before and after the event to ensure you can get there early and stay late if you happen to turn a first impression into a first sale.
3. Make Eye Contact
Nothing says, “I have no confidence in what I do” better than looking at the ground when talking to someone. Your other options may be to look at their forehead, ears, hair-piece, or be creepy and glue your eyes on their mouth. I recommend just sticking to eye contact.
TIP: Focusing on eye contact will actually help you listen more intently. Block out everything else in the room and make that person the only thing that matters for those few minutes you have to connect. You never know, that person could be the most important person you’ve ever met.
4. Put Your Stupid Cell Phone Away
If you and I are chatting for the first time and your face is buried in your phone checking facebook updates, tweets from Ashton Kutcher, or the latest peanut butter cookie recipe to hit Pinterest, you and I are done. Your inability to focus on our conversation is a red flag and warning that you may not be able to focus on the now-not-so-potential collaboration we’ve been discussing.
TIP: PUT YOUR STUPID PHONE AWAY.
5. Have A Business Card
I know we live in a technology-driven world where we can share anything and everything digitally and we really don’t need business cards to share our info with each other, but I don’t want you to take my phone and type in your info. And I really don’t want to sit there and misspell your name in my phone while you look over my should to make sure I got the last 4 digits correct.
TIP: Just get business cards and have them on you at all times. It’s a 2 second transfer of info that requires almost no effort. I then have a tangible record of your information and I can make sure your name, number, and email are correct when I put them in my phone.
EXTRA TIP: Get a virtual business card that can be delivered via text. For an example: Text “JGargas” to 50500 and you’ll get my virtual card from contxts.com.
CHALLENGE: Find a networking event to attend this week. Email me at Jeff@enimultimedia.com and introduce yourself. Then tell me where you’re going and how you plan to make the best of it.
NEED HELP? Hit me up for a Virtual Cup of Coffee. What’s that?
It’s simple. It’s a Skype chat where we both drink coffee and pretend to be in a fancy Starbucks. We’ll chat about you, your business, your goals, etc. And then we’ll start building a strategy for your goals and your dreams. This is typically a $75 service I offer clients, but since you guys fucking rock, it’s free for all GFDA readers. Lets do this!