Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of hanging out with the great folks from the Unreasonable Institute plus some of their fellows and discuss the 101 of good networking in light of the upcoming SOCAP conference.
As many of you know — this is a topic which is very close to my heart; so let me share with you what I told the fellows yesterday: My primer on networking.
1 / Prepare
Like every good venture — good networking begins with good preparation. Do your homework, find out who will be in the audience and reach out to the people you want to meet. And if that doesn’t work: Know at least whom you want to meet and figure out how you can meet them (e.g. Are the speaking on a panel? Then wait for them behind stage).
2 / Make Connections
Put yourself out there. Avoid hanging out with the folks you already know too much and force yourself to meet new people. Know your pitch (and make sure it’s compelling and concise) and bring business cards. Lots of business cards.
3 / Know What You Need
Be specific about what you need. If you can name me three people who would help your business — maybe I can get you at least one step closer to them? The more specific you are, the easier it usually is for people to help. A generic “I need help with business development” is nice but doesn’t tell me what I can do for you specifically.
4 / Follow Up
I sound like a broken record by now — BUT: Follow up. Always. No excuse. You will be surprised how few people actually follow up and thus how much you will stand out for simply being the one person who DOES.
5 / Meta
Don’t view networking as transactional. Be open, explore and embrace “weak links”. The best things often come from the most unusual places. And not to forget: Have some serious fun!