For the next few weeks, I’ll be writing a series of blog posts on networking and how to effectively use it to facilitate connection, build relationships, and create opportunity.
The Networking Pyramid
1. Make Connection
2. Build Relationships
3. Create Opportunity
Layers Upon Layers
Each of these levels layers on top of each other. You can’t get to 3 without having first established 1 & 2. Basically, you’re playing a delicate game of Jenga – if you mess up at any point in the process, the whole thing – a working relationship – will crumble before it had a chance to go somewhere.
1. Make Connection – go to events and meet people. Let people know who you are by being at events and chatting people up. Pretty easy, right? Here are some tips:
- Make a good first impression
- Don’t be fake or pretentious; those two erroneous strategies will tank your first impression before you have the chance to connect.
- Lead with your best self – be the best possible version of you at any given moment and people will see that. With that, make sure you dress to impress and that you don’t have any powerful, overbearing odors.
2. Build Relationships – once connection has been established, build on the intimacy that has been shared by gradually revealing more of yourself through other encounters.
What I’m saying is that you should hang out more with people and have them get to know you that way. Some tips:
- Have engaging conversations
- Listen first – don’t’ be in a rush to talk. Let the other person talk and just listen, which means…
- Suspend judgement – don’t judge a person for what they are saying. If you do that, you shut a person out before you get to know them.
- Understand and empathize – the opposite of judging; really pay attention to what the person is saying. See if you can reflect back to what they are saying instead of just chiming in with a related story or your own two cents. People want to be understood, so basically, listen like a thief and don’t just wait for your turn to talk.
- Share as well – people will be hesitant to share with you and connect if they see that you are hesitant to share while being all ear and eyes wide open when they are talking. Nope, you can’t do that; you have to open up as well.
Which also means, hanging out together
- Break bread together – nothing like a good shared meal together to break barriers and get comfortable with each other.
- Have hang out times – go watch a movie together or hang at coffee shop or bar.
- Check in with each other – a relationship has to be sustained by catching up with people and staying in tune with what they’re doing and keeping them updated about your happenings as well.
3. Create Opportunity – Creating opportunity – that is, inviting someone to participate in some project or undertaking of your own or being the one invited – is about taking a relationship to the next level and creating something from nothing.
Here are some tips:
- Make sure you trust them – All endeavors with new people have inherent risk. It’s possible that this person may burn you for whatever reason, so that’s where trust comes in. Trust is a type of social credit that builds the more you deliver on it, but it is downgraded if you ever go back on promises.
- Hold up your end – if you invite someone to participate on a project for the first time, make sure you deliver on every promise, explicit and implicit, and make sure to put on the best possible production possible because: (a) this first collaboration will determine if they’re will be future collaborations or not; (b) your reputation (and social credit) is built with each new encounter.
- Be a good collaborator – if you’re invited to work on a project and you feel it’s up your alley, say “Yes,” and then see how you can contribute.
- Don’t force opportunity – don’t cajole anyone into working with you, nor should you feel strong armed into a project. The invitation to collaborate has to feel natural and organic in order for both parties to consent and invest emotionally in the commitment.
Anyways, these are just some thoughts I scribbled down right now. Networking is much more complex than this, but for right now, this is a good over view to get you to think about the concept.
I hoped this helped!
Your everlasting friend,