Sometimes, everything aligns to tell you that you should revisit a topic. Yesterday, I tweeted out this feeling I’d been having lately: “My most valuable business asset isn’t even mine: the network of people I can reach and talk with if necessary.”
But there are also so many people doing “bad” networking. And I’m grateful for people who can help you get better at this sort of thing.
But there’s more. My friend Derek Coburn wrote a great book on the topic called Networking is Not Working.
My buddy Dave Delaney has a book on this called New Business Networking.
There Are Many BETTER Ways to Network
I’m of the mind that any time you “set out” to network, it’ll go poorly. Networking events? They are almost always trash. Why? It’s speed dating done poorly. No one ever knows what to say. We end up talking about something dumb. It’s invariably too loud. So what works? Here are some random ingredients you might try.
Small batches. Even at massive events, it’s better to keep pulling circles of 7-9 people together for quick conversations. About what? Why are you gathered? What’s the big goal?
Off-topic focal point. The most obvious one is drinks but that still puts a lot of onus on the people gathered, but I recently went to a tequila tasting event. We could all tell tequila stories, learn about the product, and ALSO talk about our businesses.
Meet before you meet. Sol Orwell and I had met through Jacqueline online over emails and exchanges long before we talked in person. When we finally DID meet, it was much warmer. Look up a person’s information. Connect ahead of time however you can. Learn more about them, too.
Bring a topic. Bring your own campfire to gather around. Imagine you’re at some big event. You find a group of people you might want to get to know. “Hey, I’m gathering thoughts on a topic. People say VR is the next big thing, but I feel like it’s not. What’s your take?” (Too many people talk about the weather.)
Bring a bridge. Friend-of-a-friend is the best way to network ever. The best and most lasting relationships in my life have all been very random. But the NEXT best? Those are when friends want me to meet someone they really love and think I’ll love, too.
Look What I Didn’t Cover
I didn’t talk once about what I do, what I need, who I need to meet, and all that.
After years and years and years of doing business, I’ve come to learn that the best way to network is to do it organically across a lot of verticals by learning about people in a much more general and open-ended way.
That’s how to do your best networking. Get to know people. Make some friends and allies. And help people as often as possible.
Put that on a motivational poster or something. Better yet, just do that and see the results. It’d be better that way.