The Secret to Successful Networking

May 11, 2009

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It’s amazing how important networking is to your personal and business success and how few people are actually good at it. I just came back from a Global Leadership Conference put on by EO and one speaker in particular (Christina Harbridge) really stated it well to succeed in successful networking and the best part of it is - it’s not HARD. Successful politicians are for better or for worse pretty good at it. The key to successful networking is … “Watch for what you like in the person.”


As human beings, we are quick to judge - usually in 8 seconds and we’ve already cast judgment on someone whether or not they are cool, useful, good, bad, friendly, unfriendly etc. Usually after that 8 seconds we’re ready to bail on the conversation and find the next person to talk to or we tense up as we’re trying to impress them with our conversational prose as they’ve proven themselves to be useful to us. What a terrible way to network. Nobody likes to be judged or used. People usually can see right through that and you’ll often miss opportunities to connect and celebrate those serendipitous moments that make life interesting. Tell yourself the next time you chat with a new person that you’ll try to focus on those things that you like in the person. You’ll relax more, your eyes will convey respect and genuineness in your conversation. It’ll change the tone and effectiveness of your networking and for the person you are networking with.

Seems pretty straightforward, right? Watching for what you like naturally makes you more interested in the person and the conversation moves from rigid to more of a casual conversation amongst friends. I can’t tell you how many examples of people that I’ve had a great conversation with at a conference or folks I’ve met while traveling that have led to successful opportunities just by being genuinely interested in the person and focusing on what I like about him or her. I’m definitely not perfect at it, but it sure makes networking a lot more interesting and fun. Try it out at the next networking event - only focus on one thing, what you like about that person - and let us know how it works out for you.  Feel free to share some of your successful networking tips below.

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23 Comments »

Comment by Francois
2009-05-11 08:51:56

Agreed, I personally enjoy meeting people and finding out what makes them ‘tick’. Every person I meet has an interesting story to tell and I enjoy hearing it.

Francois

 
Comment by Chang
2009-05-11 10:28:31

I’d recommend the book “How to make people like you in 30 seconds or less”, which covers a lot of insightful and interesting points. E.g. how to communicate with different types of persons (visual, auditory and kinethestic); During face to face communication, words only accounts for a small percentage. It’s the tone and body language that make a difference.

 
Comment by Marcelo Calbucci Subscribed to comments via email
2009-05-11 10:50:53

Plug: I did a post one year ago called “9 Tips for Networking Events” which talks about some DOs and DONTs of networking which are very similar to what you describe.

http://www.seattle20.com/blog/9-Tips-for-Networking-Events-How.aspx

 
Comment by Johnny Optimist
2009-05-11 11:34:26

I agree. People usually like to be interesting and like to feel as though they are interesting, so if you treat them as such it can enhance that contact / further that relationship.

 
Comment by Cary Bergeron
2009-05-11 15:40:08

You know years ago I was in Amway and they taught us to get the other person talking about themselves. Everyone likes to talk about themselves and they can do so for hours if you listen.

This is basically the same thing and I agree, it works well.

 
2009-05-11 20:12:53

That’s great advice! Networking is kind of tough and akward. I can’t wait to try this out.

 
Comment by Peter Zaballos Subscribed to comments via email
2009-05-12 04:26:30

Very insightful, Andy, but to me you speak to a more general element of successful networking, which is that it’s in the end about establishing a sincere relationship with that other person you’re speaking with. Finding something you both find interesting, and adding value to the conversation, leaving them with more than they had before you showed up and introduced yourself, or were introduced to them.

I think a lot of people view “networking” with the same trepidation they view public speaking with, something that’s outside their comfort zone that they have to train themselves to get good at (and which your post helps guide them towards). But when they look at it as an opportunity to give more than they take, and to set themselves up for a conversation with that same person down the road, it can seem less daunting, and I think helps them become more effective.

For me though, it gets easier when I view this as building productive relationships . I wrote about this in a post on my blog, “Effective Networking, as easy as public speaking”
http://openambition.com/2009/03/19/effective-networking-as-easy-as-public-speaking/

 
Comment by Financial Help
2009-05-13 08:19:18

I’ve always had a hard time talk to others because I would continuously be thinking what to ask next. I’m gonna try your technique above and hopefully it helps.

 
Comment by Online Colleges Subscribed to comments via email
2009-05-13 10:14:04

Good incite. It is often difficult not to judge a book by it’s cover. But if you are able to look beyond the cover and find something positive it will make the situation easier to swallow.

 
Comment by JWGenYGuy
2009-05-15 02:53:26

Andy that’s a sound bit of advice for a Friday, no doubt most of us will be out in some sort of social capacity today/tonight.

“The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don’t have it.”
- George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

-JW.

 
Comment by Online Colleges Subscribed to comments via email
2009-05-19 08:29:51

I always try not to judge a book by it’s cover. You never know what one person may or may not be hiding!

 
Comment by Art
2009-05-31 05:35:54

Hey Andy,

I came across you blog via a recommendation from the quick sprout website and I must say I’m not disappointed. I sell canvas art and tapestry wall hangings and I am looking for a mentor to help me take my businsses to a new level. You can contact me on the email address provided - I’d be delighted to speak with you and maybe have you as my mentor.

 
Comment by Sharon Wilson
2009-06-29 22:42:41

I totally agree that networking is important in our personal and business success. Through networking, we can impart some of our knowledge with others and also gain important ideas from them.

 
Comment by Daycom Media Subscribed to comments via email
2009-08-10 00:25:29

Great Stuff. I never quite realized it before, but that’s usually what I do- -look for what I like in a new person. Like your article points out, we often get caught up trying to find out what we can get out of a person we first meet, or trying to find that perfect moment to pitch ourselves. But I usually go into an initial meeting trying to find something that I like about the person I’m talking to and I’ll often point it out to them. That’s a great way to make a good first impression because everyone loves to hear positive things about themselves, and I usually remember the people who tell me things they like about me! Thank you, Andy. And be sure to thank Christina Harbridge for me!

Davion Hussen
Daycom Media
http://www.daycommedia.com
twitter.com/daycommedia

 
Comment by Dinnerware
2009-09-11 10:33:36

I totally agree, we all have a need inside to feel interesting, a showing that you care about what others are/do, is a great way to make new contacts, but also to share some happiness. It’s good food for though reading this, i really like your technique!

 
Comment by SEO Consultants Subscribed to comments via email
2009-12-12 10:17:15

Interesting thoughts Andy. I’ve found networking to be largely a waste of time. Reason being most people want to network with those on the same level/status as them. I’ve found almost anyone can be reached by telephone and e-mail - politicians, millionaires, etc. Will be sticking to the later.

 
2010-03-28 21:47:36

Actually, the best take away from this is..

“The key to successful networking is … “Watch for what you like in the person.”

Spot on. While I have only been to a few trade shows and even fewer networking events. However, the ones I have been to have been cold, calculated, and felt like a very artificial environment.

I would not want to network or joint venture with anyone that I did not like in general, or someone who would approach me because they wanted something that I have. But that is just me.

Great post..

Robert C - The Wholesale Products Guy

 
Comment by Jobs in Cyprus
2011-02-11 20:03:24

Yeah, networking can definitely be profitable… some great tips in there Andy - keep ‘em coming.

 
Comment by Jason Hope
2014-08-06 15:22:05

Awesome! Its truly awesome piece of writing, I have got much clear idea regarding from this article.

 
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