This is what you SHOULDN’T DO when Networking
The people who are willing to be uncomfortable are the ones that will get to experience the best things in life.
There is no shortcut or way around it.
You want to be healthy? You have to eat healthy foods and exercise. Also, you will have to say no to those delicious but unhealthy foods (at least most of the time).
You want to be wealthy? You must create different sources of revenue, have financial discipline to save and invest, and you will have to say no to desire of buying that nice car or a bigger house (at least while you create the wealth).
As Jocko Willink said, Discipline Equals Freedom. But as you can see, the discipline comes first.
You want to build a strong and valuable network? Then you must be willing to go out and meet new people, but you have to do it with the right mindset.
The goal of this article is to share with you some of the most common mistakes people make when they network so that you can avoid these and start seeing results as quick as possible.
Building a network of valuable and reliable professionals is an investment. It will take time, it will be a bit uncomfortable at times, but it will be worth it.
Having a strong purpose is a key element to help you power through the obstacles you will face in this journey. Take a look at this FREE resource that will help you identify your purpose.
Build Your Social Capital
Making the necessary changes to become the ultimate networker will take time. It has taken me two years and 200+ events, and I am still not even close, but at least I’m closer than when I started.
It was two years ago that I moved to Houston. I knew about 5 people here and had around 200 LinkedIn connections. Now I have a network of purposeful individuals, about 1300+ LinkedIn connections, and I get invited to speak at events about how to build a valuable network.
If I did it, as an introvert and non-native English speaker, you can do it too.
There is no shortcut to becoming a master, but I can help you optimize your time and shorten your learning curve a bit. I have read everything I can get my hands on, related to networking and communication skills, and I have tested the knowledge by attending an average of 3-4 networking events every week for the past two years.
Let’s explore some of the common mistakes so that you can avoid them.
- The 10-Second Rule
As soon as you go through the door… start talking to people! If it is at a restaurant, ask a waiter if they know about the event. If it is at a hotel, ask at the front desk about the specific location of the event you are attending.
In fact, start talking to people in the elevator if you have to use one to get to the event. The purpose here is to eliminate the anxiety of talking to strangers as soon as possible.
Talk to the people at the reception table and ask a couple of questions.
Talk, talk, talk. This is something that was difficult for me, and it will be for introverts, so don’t let the anxiety take control.
This will require a lot of energy at the beginning. When I started, my goal was to talk to 3 people, just 3 people that I didn’t know, and ask for their card to connect on LinkedIn. After those 3 I was exhausted, so most of the time I left the event after that.
Remember that social skills are like a muscle. At the beginning, you will start with low weights and will work your way up. Start small, but start now!
- No One is Left Behind
We all feel the same anxiety when talking with strangers. It is just like public speaking; the butterflies never go away. You just realize that you can get past it, and then it’s not a big deal anymore.
This means that everyone in the room, in a networking event, is feeling the same way. When you open the conversation, you are helping other people because you take the uncomfortable part (possibility of rejection) away from them.
Once you do it don’t take it away!
It is amazing but even when it seems like common sense to not leave anyone alone, people still do it. NEVER EVER leave someone by themselves. If you really have no other option, because you must leave, then at least close the conversation.
One way to do it the right way is to bring someone else to the conversation. There might be someone walking around by themselves, if you happen to make eye contact then that is a great opportunity to greet and introduce that person to the other person you’ve been speaking with.
By doing that you’ve just helped two people (that’s how you start to build your social capital, by helping others).
Building Your Social Network
Having a strong network means breadth and depth. First, you need to build the basic skills, and develop the right mindset, to do social networking the right way.
As we’ve explored today, you should NEVER:
- Wait more than 10-second to talk to someone
- Leave someone by themselves
Just by following these two rules your networking game will take a leap.
Remember, start small. It can be exhausting for introverts and non-native English speakers. Yet, it is not an excuse. Start with a goal of just talking to 2-3 people. Once you get comfortable with that then you can take it up a notch.
Stay tuned because we will soon launch a Networking Boot Camp to help guide you through every step of the process. You will train your networking muscles!