We’ve all heard the adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” But how do you meet those people? Here are my top five network-building tips.
- Be excellent at explaining your worth.
A lot of networking happens when people talk about you and introduce you to others. The best way to accomplish this is to make it simple for others to understand who you are and what you do. If you can briefly describe your talents and background, it will be easier for others to talk about you and identify the circumstances in which you should be referred. People enjoy interacting with each other. Make it as easy as possible.
- Attending networking events is not a good idea.
In general, networking events are places where people with no connections can meet other people with no connections. Mark Cuban does not attend “networking events.” Parties, benefits, dinners, and so on are fine, but anything labeled as a networking event is rarely a good place to build a solid network.
- First, provide something.
Make an offer to someone after you’ve made an initial connection with them. Most good connections are used to hearing what they can do for others, but they also expect something in return. If you’re good at marketing, perhaps you could pitch them a good marketing idea for their company. If you are skilled at developing technology, give them something that will be extremely beneficial to them. Someone will want to hear more from you once they see that you have intelligent things to say.
- Maintain contact.
Keep in touch if you want to. Check-in via email on a regular basis, and follow up on setting up a face-to-face meeting; people don’t mind hearing from you. Be confident that you have something to offer, and stay in touch. Most well-connected people are busy, and following up is usually beneficial. Don’t interpret a lack of response as a lack of interest; they’re probably just overworked.
- Don’t be afraid to inquire.
Inform those around you of your needs and desires. People appear to be constantly afraid of appearing to be “using” someone or of asking for assistance. When did someone finally ask you to introduce them to a friend and you got bothered by it? Always keep in mind that people are inherently generous. Do not be afraid to tell those around you that you require assistance.