Mastering the Art of Networking
It is generally known that humans are social creatures. It is also generally known that most people do not enjoy networking. Nevertheless, turning networking into a social activity might be more valuable than you would initially think. In fact, research shows that people who are well-networked, are three times more influential than people who are not. Still, “well-networked” is a rather vague term, which, depending on how creative you are, could be interpreted in many different ways. All loosely defined terms aside, social capital is becoming more and more crucial as people continue to switch jobs at accelerating rates and as the rise of freelancers will continue changing the workforce (read about it here). So how to gain social capital? Exactly, by investing your precious time and energy into building genuine relationships. In other words, networking is more important than ever.
First of all, let’s examine what it takes to establish network power. Recent studies show that it largely depends on the strength of your relationships, how much attention you command when engaging in networking and how attractive of a networker you seem. For example, if you just threw a killer presentation or have incredibly creative ideas, you automatically become more attractive as a networking partner than somebody who lacks such presentation skills or ideas. Quite logical right? What is rather logical too, is that you will have most networking power with the people you have built mutual trust and respect with. Clearly, that does not happen overnight and for that very reason, those people tend to be friends, long-time colleagues or others that you have spent long days with. Unfortunately, the pool of people that you have such deep connections with is likely to be limited, however sociable you may be. As such, expanding and intensifying your professional relationships should be high on your list too. Here’s some quick tips.
Location, Location, Location
Research has shown that, at network events, the best spot for networking is the place where people exit the bar. The first thing people usually do when entering such an event, is getting their hands on a drink. Chances are they will move towards the bar to fulfill this pressing need. Once people got their drinks, they are ready to mingle and get chatty. And who is there to talk to? Surprise, surprise, it is you, strategically located at the exit of the bar.
What’s In a Name?
Having trouble remembering people’s names? You are not alone. However, we are going to solve this problem forever by introducing you to an extremely effective technique that derived from the Ecologically Oriented Neurorehabilitation of Memory program. Here is how it works. When you meet somebody, find one feature of their appearance which reminds you of an object which you can link their name to. For instance, let’s imagine you meet someone who introduces himself as Dave, and it strikes you that Dave has a small head. In your mind you could match Dave to a Dove (they have small heads too), so that when you run into him later, you will see the Dove and know that his name is Dave. Still with me? A big plus: this technique will not only boost your memory but probably also your creativity. A final comment: it would probably be wise not to tell the other party about this technique.
Mind the Body Lingo
In this article we pointed out that over 50% of what we are communicating happens through body language. As for your facial expression, remember to smile, slightly lift your eyebrows and open your eyes a little more than usual, in order to come across as more approachable. Complement this by your posture: drawing your shoulders back, slightly lifting your chin and being mindful of what you are doing with your limbs. To make people feel listened to, mirror their gestures, nod (but do not not overnod) and tilt your head a few inches.
Make a Plan
Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone, outlines that a common mistake of people trying to build a strong network, is that they fail to see the necessity of an action plan. Just like any other objective, networking requires planning. How?
Step 1: Create two lists. One should include the people you want to meet, whereas the other should include people you have already met and plan to strengthen the relationship with.
Step 2: For each list, determine which actions will be required to meet or intensify the connection. This could include sending a follow-up message after you have met someone, monthly coffee meetings or making a great first impression if you are meeting somebody for the first time.
Step 3: Regularly update the action plan. For real, it will help you stay on top of your game.
Without any doubt, networking is the key to unlocking new business opportunities. Therefore, connecting with people in such a way that they value being connected to you, is essential. The idea that networking is something that only takes place in business settings, is a little outdated too. Who knows you might meet an incredibly knowledgeable connection in that Vinyasa yoga class, waiting in line of a bar or on that Monday morning flight to London. We suggest you get right to it.
Got different ideas? We’d love to connect!
About Amstel Lab
Amstel Lab partners with startups and scaleups to commercialize your business. On the back of our experience, we have developed the unique Amstel Lab method: a tailor-made approach to maximize success. We test your markets, refine your product, innovate your commercial approach and execute your strategies. Any good idea is worth seeing through.
Want to learn more? Contact us through [email protected]