In life, it’s not only about what you know, but who you know. Van Gogh sold only one painting during his life. So many brilliant artists were unknown while they were still alive. To be able to use your potential to its fullest, you need to be in the right place at the right time. You can do that if you know the right people.
Networking is an essential skill if you want to have a successful career or run your own business. Although online contacts are useful, a true relationship is built when you meet somebody personally.
By meeting someone in person that was previously just an (online) acquaintance, or even a stranger, they can become a business partner or a true friend. For some people, networking comes naturally. For others, introverts like me, it’s a skill that must be learnt.
Many people feel awkward when entering a room full of strangers and it can be very difficult to break the ice. Who should you approach? How to do it? What if they are more experienced than you? What if you feel you are not at their level? These worries are obstacles that must be overcome.
That is why I decided to reach out to 43 social media and PR influencers and ask them one essential question:
What is your best networking tip?
The experts featured in this post are often speakers at conferences and events, both live and online. So without further introduction, let’s see what they had to say.
Evan Carmichael EvanCarmichael.com
Evan‘s goal is helping other entrepreneurs stay motivated and give specific strategies that can help you build a successful business.
I have a strange way of networking. I’m naturally introverted and don’t enjoy talking to strangers. I’m not the guy who will sit down and talk with the person next to me on the airplane.
My way of networking is to create a lot of noise in my industry. To be the expert and create amazing content. By kicking up the dust, people then find me. I get my large clients, interview opportunities, brand deals, book deals, etc… all through the noise that I make in my industry. I network by having people come to me.
Mark Schaefer BusinessesGROW.com
Mark is the executive director at Schaefer Marketing Solutions. He is an internationally-acclaimed college educator, author, speaker, and strategy consultant.
Be intentional about your social media strategy.
Consider how every piece of content and engagement contributes to your overall goal.
Lilach Bullock LilachBullock.com
Lilach is a speaker, social media consultant, and trainer. Her specialties are content creation and amplification, website conversion and traffic generation.
When networking, I think that it’s important to forget about what you want to get out of it and instead, focus on what you can do for the people you’re meeting. Be helpful and approachable and it will show in your interactions with other people. Try to connect with others on a more human level and it will help you build stronger relationships, that last longer.
Ian Cleary RazorSocial.com
Ian is the founder of RazorSocial, an award-winning marketing-technology blog. RazorSocial delivers online training in social media with a strong focus on how organizations can build their marketing engines using a combination of technology and process. Ian is a speaker at top social media conferences globally.
When you are networking with someone don’t talk about work. Talk about their family, their passion, the sports they enjoy and get to know the person. The temptation is to get straight to the work conversation but you need to connect with the person first.
If you want to connect with a key influencer you need to think about how you can help them. If you can help them you’ll stand out from everyone else that is looking for something from them.
Ian Anderson Gray Seriously Social
Ian is a Social Media Consultant and trainer, Web Developer, partner and co-founder of Select Performers Internet Solutions
It’s easier than ever to make connections in this digital world. You can zap of a Twitter mention, mention someone on LinkedIn or Facebook without much effort. That’s why it’s so important to go the extra mile. Be creative… offer value… be yourself… and be helpful. But don’t just leave it there with you stick behind your computer or smartphone!
Attending conferences and networking events have made a massive impact on my business. When I first attended Social Media Marketing World a few years back, I did some research to find out which of my connections were going. There were a lot of people I wanted to connect with.
So, I then made a list of people I wanted to really connect with and arranged a pre-conference chat with them on Skype. This made meeting them in person so much more powerful. We didn’t have to bother so much with the small talk – and we got on with deeper conversations and seeing how we could help each other.
Personally, I find the word “networking” a little scary or robotic. I prefer to call it “connecting” and “relationship building”.
Bryan Eisenberg BeLikeAmazon.com
Bryan is the co-founder of BuyerLegends. He is a professional marketing keynote speaker who has been the keynote speaker for corporate events and conferences. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of several venture capital backed startup companies. He is also the co-author of many New York Times bestselling books.
Many people may not remember the book “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi, but it has always influenced me.
Now I make it a point that whenever I travel I try to connect with people I have only met online through social media and have a meal with them. There is no better way to really start a real relationship.
(Note from Minuca – this is how I met Bryan a few months ago when he was a speaker at a conference in Romania)
Ted Rubin Ted Rubin
Ted is a leading social marketing strategist, acting CMO of Brand Innovators, and Co-Founder of Prevailing Path.
We know that in order to build trust with another person there must be good, two-way communication. It’s central to our existence as human beings, yet we struggle with it every day.
Multiply that struggle by the number of people in your organization, and you can begin to see just how essential communication is in building trust with your employees, vendors, partners and customers.
I’ve long been a proponent of what I call “Return on Relationship,” or ROR, hashtag #RonR, which is the value that’s accrued by a person or a brand due to nurturing a relationship. That’s no secret. We develop and grow human relationships every day of our lives. Establishing communication is essential to this process because it helps build trust—a vital component of ROR. Seth Godin says that “In the connection economy, trust and relationships are the new currency.”
He’s absolutely right. However, even in this digital age many of us are still struggling with relationships. Smartphones, tablets, social channels, live-streaming—there are a zillion ways to connect with each other, and it overwhelms us.
So it’s no surprise that businesses often find themselves behind the eight-ball when it comes to adapting new ways of communicating to business practices. We’re used to doing things a certain way. Boundaries have been established and systems put in place. The bigger the business, the harder it is to adapt and change.
Communication via social channels must be mastered if we’re to stay competitive, so it is crucial to shift your thinking in terms of social communication in building and maintaining relationships. Whether you’re a corporate executive, an entrepreneur or an employee, developing a “social mindset” is necessary to build trust, advocacy and better customer experience in the digital age.
Warren Whitlock WarrenWhitlock.com
Warren is a digital business development strategist. He is the host of Social Media Radio and speaks frequently about social media marketing, online publicity and marketing, social networking and building lifetime value for rapid growth. He was also named one of Forbes’ Top 10 Social Media Power Influencers of 2013.
Don’t confuse your network with a prospecting list.
100% of my new business comes from my network. The secret is, I don’t add people or build a relationship with the goal of targeting prospects. I meet people, do something for them if I can and trust in reciprocity.
Most of us want to buy. We don’ want to be sold. Networking allows us to build a relationship and people will seek out vendors that they know, like, and trust.
Dennis Yu Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu is the Chief Technology Officer of BlitzMetrics, a digital marketing company which partners with schools to train young adults. He’s an internationally recognized lecturer in Facebook Marketing and has spoken in 17 countries, spanning 5 continents, including keynotes at L2E, Gultaggen, and Marketo Summit.
When at events, wear the same shirt that you use from your social profiles. Then people can easily recognize you.
And, of course, you’ll want to have the same picture across Facebook, LinkedIn, your blog, and the conference site.
If you’re worried about using the same clothing, then buy 10 of the same thing. Then you have the added bonus of not having to waste time in the morning worrying about what matches.
Sue B. Zimmerman Sue B. Zimmerman
Sue, also known as #TheInstagramExpert, has built her career empowering entrepreneurs and marketing professionals to utilize the power of Instagram to get tangible business results. She is a highly sought-after business coach that has traveled the world speaking, inspiring, and sharing her knowledge and extensive experience about social media marketing.
When you attend a live conference be sure to look at who the speakers are and follow them on social. Engage in their content so that when you get to the event and introduce yourself they will have a connection with you.
Added Ninja Tip –
Create graphics in Canva and have them ready to tweet when you are listening to the presentation.
Mike Elgan Elgan.com
Mike is an American journalist, blogger, columnist, and podcaster. He is a columnist for publications including Computerworld, Cult of Android, Cult of Mac, Forbes, Datamation, eWeek and Baseline.
Without contact, people drift apart. That’s as true about friends and family as it is about former colleagues, business partners, clients, customers and other contacts.
So my best networking tip is: Keep a list of everyone you want to stay connected with for whatever reason. Then once each day, pick a person on the list, look up some of their posts on social media, then drop them a line via email or messaging — or call.
This contact comes out of the blue and gives you occasional opportunities to catch up without any other agenda.
Later, if there’s a project or job or other situation that person may think you’d be good for, you’ll be top of mind and they’ll feel like you’re somebody they can contact. Or, if you have an opportunity for them — or if you’d like to ask them for a favor, you will have already maintained the relationship and you won’t be contacting them only when you need something.
Michael Kawula SocialQuant.net
Michael is an entrepreneur whose last 3 businesses each hit 7 figures in under 3 years with his last one being ranked 144 fastest growing company by Inc. Magazine in 2012. He is an author that has been featured on CC, interviewed by Anthony Robbins and featured in over 100 publications over the last few years.
Networking can often feel like speed dating, with people buzzing throughout a room or event, and not making meaningful connections.
For others it can be their worst fear, having to approach people they don’t know.
Let me share with you a 3 step strategy that will help you make meaningful connections and work even if you’re an introvert.
Step 1: Before the Party
Do some prep work and reach out to those you’d like to connect with on Twitter ahead of time. This will help you build more Twitter followers and build warm connections. Make sure to continue networking prior to the event.
Step 2: At the Event
If you did step 1 properly, you’ll be a magnet, with people coming up to you at the event starting conversations (which even introverts can handle).
Step 3: The morning after
Follow up on Social Media, with email and/or the phone to continue the relationship.
Following this three step networking strategy, you’ll build meaningful relationships, unlike any other individual.
Mark Verkhovski American Webmasters Association
Mark is the president of The American Webmasters Association, a professional association founded in 2003 to connect and support the individuals and organizations responsible for creating, managing and marketing websites.
Here are my top three networking tips:
1. Be early. Arrive at live conferences with half an hour before the event starts. Use this time to meet and discuss with other participants.
2. Wear a suit. Even if you aren’t one of the speakers, you should look professionally. Jeans and a t-shirt may be comfortable but you won’t make a good impression.
3. Don’t share business cards to everyone while practicing your elevator speech. At this type of events, people get lots of cards that they throw in a pocket or a purse and forget about them. It’s better to take a few minutes and have a conversation with a small group of people of 2-3 people, at each break, before and after the event. This way they will remember you. Immediately after the event, follow up with them on social media, especially LinkedIn.
Christoph is a career storyteller who has worked as a journalist, a nonprofit executive, and a content marketing strategist and consultant. He is a global keynote speaker, frequent blogger, and author.
Treat everybody well even if you don’t think they can give you anything in return.
Connect, engage and build relationships. You never know where they may lead
Syed Balkhi is an award-winning young entrepreneur with several 7-figure online businesses. He was recognized as the top 100 entrepreneurs under 30 by the United Nations.
My current top networking tip is to nurture existing relationships. Often people are focused on building new relationships and they ignore their existing relationships.
Nurturing existing relationships is equally as important if not more important when it comes to networking.
Lukasz Zelezny Zelzny.uk
Lukasz started working in SEO industry around the year 2000 while living in Poland. Social Media become his area of expertise from 2010. Every year he is actively participating in 10 to 20 events as a keynote speaker. Additionally, he organizes workshops where he is sharing tips around SEO, Social Media and Analytics.
My number one tip is to show up early. This is true whether you are attending an event, a convention, a conference, or even just a meeting. Not only does arriving early help to make a positive impression, but it also provides you with some valuable time.
If you are attending a conference or event, for example, you can use the free time you have to look around the venue and get your bearings. If you arrive early to a meeting, you can use the time beforehand to prepare and go over what you want to say.
In addition, arriving early also gives you time to speak to other people. Those who are attending an event won’t be going anywhere until the event has finished, so you have the opportunity to speak and network with people who aren’t in any rush to leave. You can also find people to talk to who are standing on their own – many of these people are thankful to have someone to talk to and you never know what you may have in common.
Showing up early is also guaranteed to lower your stress levels – if you show up late regularly, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Gail Gardner GrowMap.com
Gail is the founder of GrowMap.com. She is a Small Business Marketing Strategist she mentors small businesses, bloggers, and freelancers. After 23 years in the field with IBM and 5.5 years managing AdWords accounts, her focus shifted to small business marketing strategy.
The fast path to networking is to make friends with someone who already has a big network. Support their efforts, be a friend to them, and ask them to introduce you to others.
Some may automatically offer to do this for you. Others you may have to ask directly – but don’t ask until you have already given your support to them. They are more likely to say yes.
Heidi Cohen HeidiChoen.com
Heidi is an actionable marketer, speaker, professor, and journalist that shares practical advice on social media, content marketing, small business, and life.
Get out from behind your computer and meet people IRL. There’s nothing like meeting someone to make an impression and start to develop a relationship. It’s a major reason to invest in attending the top events and conferences in your industry.
Don’t just focus on shaking hands with the top influencers. Instead, meet and engage with your peers. If you’re a marketer, use these events and conferences to create high-quality content.events and conferences to create high-quality content.
Nathan Chan FoundrMag.com
Nathan is the founder of Foundr, a multi-faceted digital media business spreading the love of entrepreneurship through its podcast, digital magazine, training platform, and brand.
Serve first and ask later! When meeting anyone for the first time, or introducing yourself cold, I’ve found from experience the best way to build upon that relationship is to try to help and add value to that person from the start.
Do not work out what you can’t take from this person, don’t be ‘that person’. Work on always adding value and giving and not expecting anything in return. If you follow only this principle, good things will happen and you will build an amazing powerful network around you!
Sam Hurley OPTIM-EYEZ
Sam Hurley is a #1 ranked digital marketer holding 6+ years’ experience. He is the founder of OPTIM-EYEZ, helping business owners turn their website visitors into paying customers.
My top networking tip is to listen more than you talk…and take a genuine interest in how you can help others (for free), not what services can push onto them!
This is especially true for Social Media; which I consider to be the most powerful networking tool in history.
Ramsay Taplin BlogTyrant.com
Ramsay has developed other blogs and online businesses in various niches. He blogs about blogging and online marketing.
One of my favorite tips for networking is to mention the person I want to connect with in a massively useful blog post before I connect with them. I then tweet or email them to let them know about the shout out before making any requests or larger conversation.
I’ve found this to be a good ice-breaker because you are giving something before you ask for anything.
Mike Allton The Social Media Hat
Mike is a content marketing practitioner, blogger and the chief marketing officer at SiteSell. He writes about content marketing, social media, and SEO.
20 years ago, I was the sales manager for a local IT company in Ohio. At the time, the absolute best networking that I could do was to join local organizations (i.e. Lions Club) and networking groups (i.e. BNI) where I’d have designed opportunities to meet & greet fellow business owners.
If you happen to operate a brick & mortar establishment, those kinds of organized meetings are likely still to be extremely popular and powerful.
But in the online space, times have changed.
As social networks flourished over the past ten years, being able to connect with and network meaningfully with other peers & colleagues, vendors, influencers, and prospects – all online – has evolved into a critical path.
There was a time when an online business could have done without a Facebook Page or Twitter account. They could have ignored what was happening in the social space and continued to focus on “real world” connections. But that’s no longer true.
Today, it’s more important than ever to capitalize on the ease in which we can create online connections and use them in full spirit of networking. Which brings me to my top networking tip:
Give value to influencers publicly and be open to opportunities to reach their audience.
First, like any relationship, it’s important to go into this technique with the understanding that we cannot have preconceived goals or requirements. Whether someone decides to network with us and start a relationship, and what happens next, is only marginally within our control.
So start by identifying the influencers in your niche that are active on social media. Begin to follow them and what you are looking for are opportunities to engage with them, and their audience, on their public posts.
Suppose for a moment that Gary Vaynerchuk is an influencer you’d like to target. You’d follow Gary on Facebook and Twitter, and start watching for opportunities to make smart replies on his posts.
You should not comment every time Gary posts, but rather, patiently wait for topics to come up which you can reply with authority and insight. Then, reply not out of a desire to impress Gary, but from a genuine place where you’re delivering value to the post. And specifically look to do it in a way that doesn’t detract at all from what Gary said, but rather adds to it so that you are truly contributing.
Over time, not only will Gary notice and respond to you, but so will members of Gary’s audience.
And this is where we need to be open.
It may be that Gary (or whoever you’re targeting) will be open to and allow a real relationship to form – but it may also come to pass that it’s audience members that you actually form connections with. Either way, they’re great opportunities!
The beauty of this technique is that you can afford to multi-thread it. In other words, since we’re not committing to X comments a day, but rather, one or two great comments a day, we can actually follow a bunch of great influencers in our niche and just wait for our moment. If you’re following one person, it might be a few days before they post something that you think you can rock a response. But if you’re following 25, it’s more likely that there’ll be a post you can jump on at least once a day from different people.
Simply set aside 15 – 30 minutes a day to review the latest posts from those influencers and pick just one or two to comment on. If they’re active on Twitter or Google+, I recommend using Hootsuite where you can save streams for easy monitoring. I explain that, along with some other intense techniques, in more details in this post about influencer marketing.
Zac Johnson ZacJohnson.com
Zac is an entrepreneur and a super affiliate, with nearly 20 years of experience in the online marketing space.
One of my best networking tips it to simply put yourself out there and provide as much value as possible.
No matter what industry you are in, or even if you are at a conference or small party… this rule will always work in your favor. Having just celebrated 10 years of my blog, these are the rules that I have always lived by (in both life and business), and they continually work for me today.
Your audience will love you for the time, value and effort provided to them, while also helping to establish and grow your brand in the process. In a world where self-worth and vanity are everywhere, those who are unique and benefit others will stand out from the crowd.
Vicky Llerena SocialVibesMedia.com
Vicky works with entrepreneurs, small businesses, non-profits, and universities to create creative marketing content that attracts more leads and profit.
Call me Networking Queen. I live by this strategy because I truly believe in the power of networking. Let me rephrase that: I believe in the power of genuine relationships. I used to think that clients magically appear at your office door steps or referrals would flood your phone with endless voicemails. This is not the case!
Keep in mind, when you are a new business, you pretty much are the new kid on the block. This means that you have to build your own momentum and put your name out there. By out there, I mean get your name out into the community or the places where your buyers/clients frequent the most.
As I became better at networking, these are the lessons I learned:
Go for quality, not quantity:
I used to hand out as many business cards as possible and quickly introduce myself with a simple Hi, I’m Vicky and I do digital marketing. Blah, Blah, Blah. This doesn’t work and surely will not get you any leads.
Instead, work the room and target about 3-4 people instead of the entire crowd. Get to know the person by asking them questions about their business, personal interests, and family. People will remember you more if you form genuine connections.
Go for the big fish in the room, not the little fish:
At conferences, I used to target small business owners or solo practitioners who were at the early stages of their business or who came to learn a thing or two at the event. Although valuable contacts, I learned that if you want to target individuals that possess a more influential network, you have to target the big fish in the room.
These are usually the speakers, host, or event coordinator. Approaching these individuals should seem natural. Please do not over flatter them or ask for autographs. Be yourself.
Never hand out business cards
As paradoxical and this may sound, handing out business cards diminishes your chances of a continuous business relationship. You want people to call you, right? Well, the minute you hand them a business card, you have left it up to fate to decide whether your prospect will call or not.
You’ve given away the power. Instead, ask your prospect for his card and inform him that you will shoot him an email with your information. Now you have the power.
Be Bold and Colorful — literally.
I once hosted a show for entrepreneurs and the topic discussed networking. A good friend of mine, Jeff from Junk-A-Haulics, mentioned that he makes it a priority to wear bright, bold, and colorful dress attire in order to stand out. I laughed at the mention of this advice, but then thought how brilliant this idea really is.
It makes sense: people remember the most memorable people at the event. If you wear memorable clothing and deliver a professional presentation — you will most likely NOT be forgotten among the dead and rotten.
Heather Havenwood HeatherHavenwood.com
Heather is an international marketing and sales coach for Solo Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses. She is a serial entrepreneur and is regarded as a top authority on internet marketing, business strategies, and marketing.
In any networking event, business meeting or educational seminar that I go to, I always have an open mind to being approachable. Most of the time people create this shield around themselves, that says ‘stay away stranger’. If you want to meet and connect with high end, successful people you have to let go of your ego and be approachable.
I went through the Dale Carnegie training back in 1998, and as part of the curriculum I had to read one of his famous books ‘Win Friends and Influence people’. Here is a quote from Dale:
“Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says, ‘I like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you’.” – Dale Carnegie
Mr. Carnegie is referring to the energy we put out when we are around other people. Are you looking down and into the cell phone texting? Do you smile to other people? Are you present and open to anyone who walks up to you?
In today’s world, you walk down the street and everyone is looking at their phones or devices. Be different! Be open to being approached and be open to approaching others. I promise you – you will find another high caliber person attracted to you.
Bob Burg Burg.com TheGoGiver.com
Bob’s goal is to help others understand that moving from an “I-Focus” or “Me-Focus” to an “Other-Focus” is not only a more fulfilling way to do business but a more financially profitable way to do business, as well.
First, I believe it’s important to define the term, “Networking” so that we’re all pointing in the right direction. After all, if someone believes that networking is “hitting up everyone you meet about your products or services” then of course, feelings such as, “it doesn’t work” or, “I’m not comfortable doing that” make a lot of sense. Not many people – including yours truly – would feel comfortable networking if that’s what it was actually about.
I define “Networking” as “The cultivating of mutually beneficial, GIVE and take (receive), win-win relationships.” The emphasis is on the “give” part. To the degree that you can focus on giving value to the other person, that’s the degree to which that person will see you as one he or she wants to get to know better and eventually have a business relationship with.
What I call “The Golden Rule of Networking” is simply: “All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like, and trust.” And there’s no faster, more powerful, or more effective way to elicit those feelings toward you from others than by genuinely focusing on them instead of focusing on yourself.
So focus not on the sale but on building the relationship. By focusing on the other person and what they want; what they need; what will be of value to them, that’s the degree to which you’ll create the environment for that know, like, and trust relationship to take hold. And, you’ll find yourself not only with many more customers, but with a lot more referral sources; people who will be your personal, walking ambassadors.
Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham TracyHigginbotham.com
Tracy is the Founder and President of Women TIES, LLC (Women Together Inspiring Entrepreneurial Success) a company dedicated since 2005 in promoting, publicizing and uniting women entrepreneurs and their companies online and in person in order to cultivate strong economic relationships to advance their companies and eradicate pay inequality.
Taking time for a face-to-face network is vital in meeting new people to discover if you’d like to do business with them first. Not everyone is our right future customer. After making a natural connection to someone at a face-to-face event, it requires a commitment to follow-up with the new contact to develop the relationship.
Typically it takes 5 attempts to have someone new return your call even after you meet them personally so entrepreneurs must be persistent and consistent in their follow-up after networking to turn networking time into real money and clients.
I promote women entrepreneurs across New York State but I urge them to come to face-to-face meetings, and not just depend on their online relationships, to really establish a true connection to another business owner.
This is especially true for women who benefit and enjoy face-to-face meetings. As soon as I have two women meet from other parts of the state at a mutual event, they then can create an online relationship but the online relationship doesn’t start on its own.
Stefan James ProjectLifeMastery.com
Stefan is a 7-figure internet entrepreneur, life and business coach, fitness enthusiast, and world traveler with an obsession to live life to the fullest and fulfilling his potential as a human being.
My top networking tip is to always find a way to give and add value to the person that you’re meeting, before expecting anything in return. Often times, you can tell right away when meeting someone whether or not they have a “hidden agenda”. It’s a turn-off.
Rather, if you’re genuinely curious about the person and focus on serving them first, often times it can lead to a potential business relationship and it’ll make you stand out from everyone else.
Richard Lowe Jr TheWritingKing.com
Richard Lowe Jr left his 20-year long career as a leader and manager at Trader Joe’s Company to pursue his dream of becoming a professional author and writer. Since that time, he has ghostwritten 12 books and authored 58 more under his own name and publishing company.
In order to network effectively, you must be willing to give without being concerned about getting something in return from specific individuals. You volunteer for things, help people by answering questions and give referrals.
Before long, you become known as a giver, and then an influencer. People look to you for answers. Then, when you need something, you ask and people respond. That’s the way it works best.
Ron Sela RonSela.com
Ron is an all-around marketing expert with a particular interest in influencer marketing. He’s featured in a number of well-known marketing journals and a blogger at RonSela.com
My networking tip is very simple and works just as well in everyday situations as it does with networking. This tip remains as vital with individuals who are new to marketing as the most experienced. In short, ask simple questions and then follow through with listening to the response.
Through asking simple, but relevant questions, such as, “what is your favorite social media network?”, you not only open the conversation, but you also get to know a person better through this type of discussion. Being an efficient networker, relies a great deal on self-starting actions, never waiting for someone else to make the first move when you can do it yourself.
In networking, you will find out quickly, that it is human nature for people to enjoy talking about themselves, sharing their views and relating personal experiences in a conversation, when you ask simple questions, you create a safe environment for them to share with you.
Remember, listening is the other half of this equation, always be genuine and listen to their response, you can learn the most from their answers and begin building relationships. Some people may respond by asking you simple questions to gain your insight, be prepared to respond back, and engage.
When it comes down to it, networking is all about giving and taking interactions.
Aleksander Saiyan TorontoDanceSalsa.ca
Aleksander is a Director of Operations at Toronto Dance Salsa. Before that, he was a sales leader at a marketing and advertising company where he proactively sought new business alliances and account acquisitions to maximize sales revenues and developed existing client relationships.
I think when you try to grow a business, looking for a job or want to make more connections to break into a different industry it’s important to think of the other person. We focus a lot on our agenda and what we need from people. Everything is moving so fast that a lot of relationships are becoming transactional.
It’s obvious when someone is talking to you and they want something from you. If you focus on showing true curiosity about who they are, you will always win in spades.
Look up the person/company online you want to approach, find out their mission statement, what are they all about. I think everyone wants to feel important and if you show genuine interest in their life, they will get interested in you. Plus, you can figure out if they are worth adding to your network.
Aaron Lee AskAaronLee.com
Aaron is a social media strategist and entrepreneur. On his blog, he shares strategies, tips, guides and updates that will help you fully utilize social media to grow your business.
The best tip I could give someone about networking is saying yes to everything.
At the beginner of your career, you need to cast a wide net and connect with as many people as possible.
That means saying yes to as many networking opportunities as possible. When I started, I was saying yes to any opportunity I got whether it was writing a blog post on someone’s blog to getting invited to an event. I was there and I was helpful. That was how I became memorable.
Hustle and be there. Make it happen.
Ryan Biddulph BloggingFromParadise.com
Ryan is the founder of Blogging From Paradise, where he teaches people how to earn money from blogging, generate more traffic, all that while traveling to exotic places.
My top networking tip is: promote other people. My network grew quickly and friendships flourished when I retweeted bloggers and when I featured them on my blog and guest posts.
Some mistakenly believe networking is about hustling and going after people. It is about helping people by featuring them, promoting them and serving them, giving freely what you wouldn’t mind having yourself.
I promote bloggers freely on social media. Naturally, many of these folks became – and become – my buddies. Networking 101; help people by featuring them and spreading their word. Tons of these folks will become your friends. Your network will grow. You will be networked or connected, all because you spread the love.
Matthew Loomis BuildYourOwnBlog.net
Matthew launched Build Your Own Blog to serve people and online businesses searching for a smooth blog setup that points them in the direction of long-term success.
Notice how the word “working” is in networking. That is the biggest tip I could give you: Work. It. You gotta take action, put yourself out there, and initiate contact. Like trying to get a date or a new job, you can’t wait for the phone to ring. You gotta make things happen.
You do that by selecting people you like, admire and want to work with. Then contact them. Email. By phone. Or in person. Start with people who are at a level close to your own. You’ll be less nervous about it and its good practice. Have some ideas ready to share with others or extend an offer to help them in some way.
Do this often and without worrying about the results. The more people you reach out to, the more good results will come back to you. As RuPaul once said, “You better work.”
David Krauter WebsitesThatSell.com.au
David, first a marketer first and a “techy SEO geek” second… he is the founder of Websites That Sell providing Website & SEO services with a focus on more traffic, leads, phone calls & sales – not just rankings…
Networking all comes down to one thing. Helping as many people get what they want using expertise, resources or knowledge you have. That’s really what networking comes down to… it’s simple marketing. Too many people try to push their own agenda when trying to network and all it does is turn the other party off.
The key is working out a win-win-win situation where you help the other party get what they want while getting something in return that will help you achieve what you want.
If you want someone to mail for your list… start subscribing to their list first, jump on top of their launch and mail for them first, go above and beyond to make a great impression and show that you genuinely care for their business.
At this stage you have built up enough good will from the other party, that they will feel obliged to help you as well.
Simple… you’ve helped another person enough to get what they want and now networking with them and asking for help on your end become easy.
Lexi Mills ManyMinds.digital
Lexi is a multi-award winning digital marketing expert, with a focus on integrating PR and SEO at both a strategic and tactical level. She writes for several media publications such as PR Week, eConsultancy and is a prominent keynotes speaker at conferences around the world.
Networking events can easily make the dentist look like an appealing activity. It’s easy to get pushed into an event that doesn’t really appeal and that just makes building rapport with the people there almost impossible.
Over and above anything else these days I check that I am going to an event I want to be at and I am clear and open with the people I meet about my objectives you will have far better conversations that convert than if you are ambiguous.
This applies to asking friends or contacts for introductions it’s surprising what will come to you if you just ask politely and are flexible about where and when you are willing to meet. It doesn’t hurt to find some fun and interesting places to invite them too as well. I always make sure I make it comfortable for the person to decline giving me an introduction.
This is a two-way street, if you want others to provide introductions it’s important you take the time to do them for others too. Finally always follow up with a thank-you email. It’s amazing how rare these are and time is really one of the few finite things we have, if someone shares theirs with you make sure you convey your gratitude.
Gini Dietrich Arment Dietrich
Gini is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a digital marketing communications firm. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.
Networking is something many introverts dread because it’s typically equated with walking into a room full of strangers, cards in hand, and schmoozing for business.
But when you find a community full of your people and become an active part of it, networking is no longer a chore. Instead, it’s part of going about your daily routine. We’ve seen this in our Spin Sucks Slack community.
Community members rally to help one another and have built strong friendships—and business relationships after coming together around a shared vision of the future of PR.
Uffe Erup Larsen Samurai-PR.dk
Uffe is an experienced and independent PR Professional. He works out of Copenhagen, Denmark, in his company Samurai PR and works for several international clients — both select global companies as well as a few start-ups with global potential. Uffe is specialized in getting his clients valuable news coverage in Danish, English, and American news outlets and in being their trusted advisor in any communication matters.
“Let’s have lunch together” or “let’s meet for a coffee” are probably my two most used phrases when I want to get to know other people better (first meeting) or nurture my relationship with someone in my network or someone I work for.
Wining and dining have worked for hundreds of years and even today nothing beats a good sit-down with another person when you both have a mutual interest in getting to know each other better, keep the good relationship, and maybe decide to work together. Why is it so effective? Because it instantly makes the meeting more informal and when that happens, you often also get to talk about other things that are not work-related.
Doing so might reveal that you have more things in common, know the same people, and if not, it will at least tell you quite a bit about the other person. The better you know someone, the more certain you’ll be whether you’d want to recommend this person to others or if it is a person you’d like to work for.
I have literally sat down with many business people during the years and talked about everything else but doing business for most of the meeting. Then within, say, the last 15 minutes before we got up, we’ve made a business deal or we’ve discussed whatever we initially decided to meet about. There was plenty of time to do that. You do business with people you like and the better you know someone, the more you’ll also like that person.
Oh, and by the way, don’t be cheap about picking up the bill. In the long run wining and dining someone will always pay off one way or the other.
Christina Nicholson MediaMavenAndMore.com
Christina is the owner of Media Maven, a full-service public relations firm based in Coral Springs, Florida. She is an award-winning journalist with more than a decade of experience anchoring, reporting, writing, editing, networking, excelling in social media, photography, and live TV.
My advice is to connect with someone who does what you do. So many people look at others in the same industry as competition. I don’t see. I think collaborating with my so-called “competition” has helped my business grow.
Yes, on the surface it looks like we do the same thing, but we don’t. We are different people with a different way of working with different clients. I don’t do everything another public relations firm does and vise vera. Even if we do the same thing, we do it in different ways with our own unique approach.
I’ve made great connections and have build referrals relationships with people you may consider my competition, but I consider my collaborators.
Dan Janal PrLeads.com
Dan is an inspiring business keynote speaker who helps entrepreneurs realize their dreams of creating a successful business, leading a balanced life and achieving financial freedom. He is also a frequent speaker on webinars, podcasts, and radio shows.
I’m always amazed to look in my Facebook feed and see pictures of events where my friends are – but I had no clue that event was taking place! I asked them how I can get in the loop.
They told me they subscribe to Eventbrite, the service that sells tickets to local events. When you sign up, you can “follow” your friends and see which events they are going to. Now I can find out in advance where all the hot events are, put them on my calendar and show up.
Deirdre Breakenridge DeirdreBreakenridge.com
Deirdre is a CEO of Pure Performance Communications, speaker, author of Social Media and Public Relations & PR 2.0, adjunct professor & co-founder of #PRStudChat.
When you think about networking think beyond the initial connection. Many professionals view networking as a way to swap contact information. Maybe this was networking 20 years ago, but not today. Networking is so much more than just an initial connection.
Because of social media, it’s the what’s next in your relationship and how you can move your interactions to a whole new level. Social media makes this easy because you can continue your discussion long after your initial interaction. You’re able to build a relationship much more quickly.
For example, right after you meet, you can connect on LinkedIn, and follow one another on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. The conversation and the content you share keep the relationship alive and relevant.
Suddenly, you’re collaborating more frequently and feeling inspired. Before you know it, your networking connection turns into a meaningful friendship and a new business opportunity.
Alli Williams AmplifyRelations.com
Alli Williams is the PR Manager at Amplify Relations, a full-service advertising, public relations and government affairs agency.
Face-to-face networking is an extremely important part of growing within your career. While online interactions, like Linkedin or Facebook connections, are crucial to keeping in touch with professional contacts, the initial introduction should be face-to-face if at all possible.
Networking groups and professional development groups are great places to meet like-minded professionals. It’s much easier to make a connection with someone in person rather than develop your professional relationship over the internet.
Keith McHugh PaintedRock.com
Keith has experience in public speaking, business consultation, and career development consultation.
So many people are using social media connections like the white pages of ages past that the value of the LinkedIn connection must still have a personal connection if it is to have any value.
I have two networking tips:
1. Never mind the fee. A little insider secret: even if the organization has a membership fee or a fee to attend a regular event as a non-member guest, many times you can get it waived if you explain you are new to the area or are considering joining the organization.
This is also a great way to get introduced to the staff of these organizations who will likely be well connected. Just don’t wear out your welcome by abusing this request.
2. Modify your expectations. Consider modifying your expectations to make 1 to 3 meaningful connections instead of handing out a box of business cards. Another attribute of introverts is the preference for closer relationships. Establishing the expectation of making just a few good connections regardless of room size can ease any anxiety being felt about a crowded room.
Admittedly, this will mean your network will expand a little slower, but the connections will be stronger and more engaging. And that’s ok because we’re in this for the long haul, right?
Wendy Glavin Wendy Glavin Agency
Wendy is a 20-year veteran of corporate, agency, consulting and small business ownership. She has worked for clients across a wide variety of industry sectors, including, technology, financial technology (FinTech), mobile apps, crowd-funding, retail, and more. She is the founder and CEO of Wendy Glavin Agency, in New York City.
I counsel my clients about how to differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace. The short answer is what makes you different than your competition?
At networking events, the same rule applies. “Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how your leave others feeling after an experience with you become your trademark.”- Jay Danzie
Living and working in New York City offers endless networking events, many of which are national, including Network After Work-Business/Professional Networking, Meet up, Public Relations Association of America, Business Network International (BNI), The National Association of Professional Women, American Marketing Association and industry-specific groups.
As a 20-year veteran of corporate, agency, consulting and small business ownership, I’ve worked for clients across a wide variety of industry sectors, including, technology, financial technology (FinTech), mobile apps, crowd-funding, retail, and more.
I’ve consulted for entrepreneurs, startups, small-to-medium businesses (SMBs), agencies, publishing, public relations and marketing firms.
When I attended my first Network After Work Networking event, the organizers had a huge board with colored nametags for industry sectors. Red was agency. Green was technology. Blue was entrepreneur. Light blue was finance. There were more colors and professions to choose from. Most people were confused about which color to choose.
I didn’t think twice and put on two name tags, one for agency, the other, entrepreneur. This single action became a huge conversation-starter. Strangers said to me, “Wow, you’re wearing two name tags, I wasn’t even sure about which one to choose.” And, “If you’re an agency, why are you wearing entrepreneur?”
Right then and there, I realized I had differentiated myself. Next time, I put on even more colored nametags. I thought I’ve worked in most of these professions, so why not?
Next event, I did the same thing, but this time I scanned the room of hundreds of people. All the men wore suits and were in groups. The women were scattered around wearing dresses and casual attire. I decided I’d break up every male cluster.
My opening, “Hi, I’m Wendy Glavin and I wanted to break up this male cluster.” During that event, I secured a new client.
My suggestion is, don’t be silent or scared. Figure out one thing that makes you unique and introduce yourself with a smile and a handshake. Otherwise, why go?
Scott Lorenz WestWindcos.com
Scott runs a public relations and marketing firm that helps clients and their lawyers to develop communications strategies that support and enhance their legal strategies. He has worked with numerous entrepreneurs since 1980 and is an integral part of the marketing strategy for many firms.
Everybody is somebody. Treat everyone you come across with dignity and
deference and you’ll make more connections than you’ll know what to do with. Remember the movie The Elephant Man? Do you know how this movie came about? Was it an agent’s pitch? No.
Did experienced screenwriters create this masterpiece? No.
Was it adopted from a book? No.
Where did the script come from?
A babysitter handed the script to a Hollywood producer for him to read! That’s right, a babysitter! Jonathan Sanger took the script and said he’d read it and promptly set it aside… for about a year. Then one day he came back from a trip opened his desk drawer and there it was… staring at him like an obligation.
What did he do? He read it – and he loved it!
Sanger pitched it to Mel Brookes and they made the movie. Sanger has written a book about it called ‘Making The Elephant Man a Producer’s Memoir.’
You have the potential to network every day you just need to put your antennae up and do it… just like that very sharp babysitter did 40 years ago.
Yuri Kruman MasterTheTalk.com
Yuri is a member of the Forbes Coaches Council, Mogul Influencer, published author and entrepreneur based in New York. After making several successful career transitions, including roles in HR and Finance/Operations, Yuri has used his unique insights to help clients of all career stages and industries to break bad career habits, get un-stuck in their careers and find their dream jobs.
Be extremely selective when choosing networking events. The vast majority are full of people exactly in your position (job searchers) who generally can’t help you in any tangible or short-term way. When you do go to events, make sure there are people in attendance who can actually make decisions about interviewing and hiring you.
But don’t be like every other job-searching shmoe – offer something tangible that the decision-maker can use to solve their tangible business problem. When you approach every encounter with this in mind, decision makers and influencers will be much more likely to engage with you, recommend you, and of course to interview and hire you.
Kerri Garbis OvationCommunication.com
Kerri is the president and co-founder of Ovation Communication. Her company has trained hundreds of executives internationally on presentation skills, storytelling for business, etiquette, and emotional intelligence.
This may sound a little weird but my current top networking tip is….
Make it a game! I’m a highly competitive person so getting into game mode for a networking event really works for me. If I go with a friend or colleague we set two rules:
1. We don’t speak to each other during the event (we already know each other so we don’t need to)
2. The one with the most points buys the other the coffee of their choice the next morning (or a dessert treat later that evening)!
Here are some ways to get into the game:
Get there early! Give yourself a point for every person you meet. What better way to amass points than getting to the event early? Plus it’s way less intimidating to walk into a room with one other person in it than fifty. If you’re there early you can be sure to meet all the newcomers that come in the door.
Collect them cards! Give yourself one point per card, so more cards means more points. Maybe they won’t need your business but they may know someone who does. Or, better yet, you may know someone who needs their goods or services. Cards, connections, points – it’s all a win!
Make a match! Five points if you connect two other people at the event. If you’re meeting everyone and keeping an ear open for connections, raking in these points will be easy. Introduce two people whose businesses could be a good fit for each other and give yourself five points. This will make you look like a rock star, and your new connections will be more likely to keep an ear out for you, as well.
Cathy Paper RockPaperStar.com
Cathy runs a boutique consulting firm specializing in coaching, marketing and promotion for business owners. Her firm has launched books for New York Times #1 bestseller Harvey Mackay and 100’s of other authors around the world. Cathy is a national speaker, and she also writes a column for the American city business journals on networking and personal promotion.
Make a list of all people you met with in the past month. Categorize them as referral partners, clients, prospects, staff, friend, mentor/mentee, volunteer etc.
If you have less than 3 referral partners who talk you up to other people it’s worth adding more to your network. To do this, define what makes a good influencer and invest in building those relationships for the long term.
Thank you so much to all the experts that contributed to this roundup! If you enjoyed reading this post, then help us spread word about it, by sharing it on social media.
To learn more about how to build relationships with top entrepreneurs that will lead to successful partnerships, check Melissa and Billy’s book about business networking.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Minuca is a freelance writer specialized in creating expert roundups. Her posts provide quality content, bring huge traffic and get backlinks. She also helps bloggers connect with influencers. You can contact her at her blog, MinucaElena.com.