Networking. It connects you with people, ideas, and opportunities.
There are a plethora of resources on the internet about “How to Network” along with plans and strategies. What follows are tips for AFTER you have read those.
These are the next-level Jedi mind tricks that ensure you build emotional chemistry and truly network like a boss:
Focus on connecting with people
We get others to like us by showing interest. Ditch the agonizing “small talk”, it’s the verbal equivalent of dry toast – bland, and barely worth the effort to chew. Ask open-ended questions. If it can be answered with a “yes” or “no”, the question is phrased incorrectly. Ask who they are, what company they work for, what they do. Actively listening and using their answers as a springboard for further questions shows you care about what they have to say. Most people are simply waiting their turn to speak, it’s obvious and irritating. Showing interest makes people feel gratified and they will associate that good feeling with you.
Part of building emotional chemistry is finding how similar we are to others. The tribal part of the brain divides the world into “us” and “them”. Finding commonality ensures you are categorized in the “us” portion of the other person’s brain. You needn’t endorse everything they said, simply show you share enough common ground to relate. Growing up in the same area, even if it was years apart is a great commonality. If all your discovery questions revealed NOTHING in common, when in doubt, bond over that you hate networking. Boom! I am sure they too were nervous about networking at some point.
Ask them for a favor
It’s rude! It’s presumptuous! No, it’s super effective. The favor does not have to be huge, ask them to save your seat while you go to the buffet, or watch your coat while in the restroom. This triggers The Ben Franklin Effect. A psychological phenomenon which says a person who has already performed a favor for another is more likely to do another favor for them. It is a stronger psychological association than if they received a favor. Then return the favor, buy them a drink to thank them. This reinforces the rule of reciprocity. That thank you beer can turn into a potential new introduction, or the key information needed to close that sale.
Follow up…in the right way
At some point you exchanged cards with your new bestie and promised to stay in touch. This is where all the work from above can be undone – incorrect follow up is worse than none. However, either places you in the “person who wants something from me drawer”. Continue to show how well you actively listened. Send that email, say it was great meeting them, “and by the way I stumbled across this article pertaining to that thing we talked about at the thing”. It reinforces their memory of your conversation, leads to a reply of thanks, and you may just ask for another favor…
Now you have made a real connection, you are a networking boss! Focus on meeting people instead of “networking”. It will come more naturally and build stronger relationships.
Remember, the richest people in the world build networks, everyone else just looks for work. Want to hone your relationship-building skills? Then join us at our next IREM Happy Hour event or our IREM Annual Bruncheon.
Author Stephanie Loving is a former commercial property manager and currently a Senior Business Developer for Comcast, specializing in working with property principals to expand the Comcast network. She describes herself as a Green Bay Packer fan and a mom, in that order. An amateur chef, her greatest accomplishment in the kitchen is the ability to bake a five-minute brownie in just under three minutes.