Top strategies for authentic networking (even if you don’t have a network, yet)
Every day, it seems like a new article comes out on the importance of building your network. Usually, it’s some rehashed version of “it’s not what you know but who you know that matters” or “you’re only as good as your network.”
It’s true. Building a network can earn you money, land you a new job, and make you an authority in your industry.
But the thing the articles don’t address is the difficult part of how to do it.
Today, I want to dive a little deeper into exact strategies you can apply to build your network in an authentic way. Even if you’re starting from no network or moving into a new industry, these strategies will put you on track for an effortless network.
1. Be likable
This is all about mindset.
So often when people start networking they’re looking for a transaction… what can you do for me?
Before anything else we need to get this straight. Building a top-notch network is about showing interest in other people, smiling, and being engaged.
Think about it. How rare is it to have someone smile at you and look you in the eye?
People, on the whole, love to be approached. It may seem nervous at first, but you’ll quickly get over the fear by introducing yourself to just a few strangers.
So here’s the script:
[look new person in the eye]
You: “Hi, my name is ________”
Other person: “I’m ________”
You: “What brings you here?”
And just listen.
Nod your head, ask more questions, don’t feel the need to pitch them or even give them a business card. Just keep it real.
Just by doing that, you already stand out.
2. Where to find them
A common struggle is where to meet new people.
First, start with the people you already work with. Make sure you know all your coworkers (or as many as is reasonable if you work for a giant corporation). Speak to them about things other than work. Ask questions and be attentive.
Next, think of places you already go. Church, basketball, meetup groups, school. Talk to as many people as you can there, too.
Same script as above, no need to get fancy with it.
Thirdly, look for new groups to join, roundtables to visit in your industry, maybe a board of directors for a nonprofit. Meetup.com is great. Also, just ask people you admire what groups you should consider joining.
Asking for referrals is also awesome. Here’s that script:
“Hey, (insert name here), I’m personally interested in learning more about x, y, or z. Do you know of 1 or 2 people you’d recommend I get in touch with?”
This works awesome because:
- The recommender is flattered you asked them
- The recommendee is proud to have been recommended
- You get a warm contact instead of cold-calling/emailing somebody
3. The biggest thing
The most important part of all this is follow up.
Some people will seem a little blah when you first meet them. That’s okay. You can just send them a quick email like this:
Great to meet you Tuesday at the developers conference. I’m the Michigan State grad, and I had fun reminiscing about Michigan.
Just wanted to follow up so you’d have my email. I also found this great article that reminded me of you and the conference: (insert link here) and I wanted to share it.
Why does this work?
BECAUSE SO FEW PEOPLE FOLLOW UP. You can’t help but get noticed.
In the email, we even take it a step further–reminding the person who you are and sharing something personal.
Even if the person’s first impression wasn’t great, you’ll be surprised how many people email back to return the greetings.
For those people that you clicked with, send a similar email but add a sentence at the end:
If you’re in town, I’d love to get some coffee and pick your brain about x and y for 15–20 mins.
Most of the time, you’ll get a positive answer with a warm contact. Then take the relationship from there.
If you meet someone you want to keep in touch with, get them in your calendar to follow up on a monthly, semi-monthly, or quarterly basis. Keeping in contact is important.
Don’t be nervous
- People want to talk to you.
- People want you to talk to them.
- People want to be helpful.
- You should be helpful (even if it has nothing to do with your business).
- Smile, be nice, and ask questions
These are the fundamentals to building an effortless network.
This is part of the story of how I tripled the size of my network and landed my dream job. For more, visit comfortableconversation.com