How to network like a boss
Let’s face it. Networking sucks. Pretending to be interested by a stranger’s nonsense babble and small talk can feel utterly painful. Collecting business cards from people you probably have zero intention of contacting ever again seems ridiculous. No matter what anyone says, I doubt you’ll find someone that genuinely jumps for joy at the prospect of a networking event. Or who’d rather be in a room full of strangers than hanging out with their close group of friends. Unfortunately though, it’s hard to get far in life without this important skill.
Over the years, I’ve discovered fun and creative ways to interact in a more sincere and smooth manner, and to actually genuinely connect with people. It’s not that bad after all if you make some efforts to think outside the box.
Here’s some ideas to get you off the couch and out meeting people. And maybe, just maybe, even enjoying it!
If you just can’t bear another official networking event, start networking online.
Listen, I’ve used LinkedIn to meet highly influential individuals who’ve had a massive impact on my career. All it took was cleaning up my profile and sending them a message or connect invitation. Simply make sure your LinkedIn profile looks clean, with a neat professional looking picture, and highlight your education and work experience. Next, make sure you’re selective about who you message. Keep your message short and sweet, and try to avoid being generic. And bingo, you’re networking in your pajamas.
Ask a lot of questions.
It’s no secret people love to talk about themselves. So why not let them, and even encourage them to do so? Personally, I tend to avoid the boring “what do you do?” types of questions, as sooner or later you’ll end up there. Instead, I’ll try to ask more interesting questions to try to connect with the person in front of me. Everybody likes to talk about things they’re passionate about, not to be reminded of their day to day job! Here are some questions I’ve found to be wonderful conversation starters:
- What have you been reading lately?
- What’s your favorite thing to do on the weekend?
- How did you decide to do what you do?
- How can I be helpful to you right now?
Connect other people together.
People who like to help out, or know others who can help out, are known as connectors. Sure, it may be a natural born skill, but I genuinely believe anyone can become a connector. Act like a host at every event you attend by connecting people; the more you connect people the more your name is bound to come up. Introducing two individuals helps expand their network, which may result in them connecting you to others in the future. People will not only remember you but also see you as super valuable.
Try networking at non conventional locations like the supermarket line.
You never know who you’re going to meet! We’re not robots living in a robotic alter universe. It’s totally okay and acceptable to turn to the person next to you in line at the grocery store, smile, and maybe throw in a cheesy line or joke! Other places I’ve chatted up strangers: the elevator (I know, so cliche), the gym, in a boutique. Even if you don’t end up meeting fascinating or interesting people, it’s still good practice.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” – African proverb