3 Networking Tips For People Who Don't Like IT (or Suck At It)

I’ve been told that I’m good at networking, but I don’t see it that way. I'm not fond of networking events, small talk, and especially crowds. Yes, I’m a people connector and information sharer, and I think it might be genetic because my mother is the same way. To me, the secret to building a strong network — one that will have your back — comes down to three things: Authenticity, adding value, and staying in touch.

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1. Make an Authentic Connection

I think people at times forget that networking is about building relationships and not just adding more names to their contact list. It's essential to build the relationships you already have first.

People can tell when someone is not present or sincere; getting to know someone takes time. Find some common ground and get to know them beyond their professional expertise. Learn what they stand for and make sure they know the same about you. Making your point of view known can help you connect and forge relationships with like-minded people.

You don’t have to connect with everyone. Don’t push it. You’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s a good thing. Think of it as a filter.

2. add Value

Value can be listening, sharing information, being a sounding board, or making an introduction. People tend to take what they know for granted, so take stock of your experience and know that what you read, hear, and try, could help someone else.
You can provide value by doing something as simple as sharing an article with someone you think might benefit from it. I know this is going to sound like overkill, but I promise it’s not. I’m a big fan of following up with an email after I meet with someone; there’s always something that comes to me later that I think could be useful (or interesting) to the person I just met.

On the introduction front, be thoughtful. Making introductions without asking the parties involved first is poor form. Making thoughtful introductions means thinking about the people who you are about to connect and how they can benefit from meeting each other — even if it’s just because you think they’ll get along.

Keep in mind that when the benefit is one-sided, the meeting is a favor to you. Clarity and transparency are key. Here’s how to make the BEST email introductions.

3. Stay In Touch

“But, it takes so much effort to stay in touch.”

It does take a certain level of effort and organization can help. Just like working out, keeping in touch requires discipline. Staying connected via email is probably the easiest way to keep in touch, and tools like Insightly and Contactually can make it even easier— especially if you’re trying to stay in touch with more than 200 people.

VERY IMPORTANT MUST READ NOTE:

I cannot stress enough the importance of sending thank-you notes: emails and actual cards. Sending a thank-you note sends more than just a message of appreciation. It also says, “I acknowledge that you and your time are important and if you make an introduction for me I’ll also send a thank-you note to that person.”

Not sure if you should send one? Here are three scenarios when you should ABSOLUTELY send one — and within 24 hours preferably:

  • Someone made an introduction for you

  • Someone is kind enough to give you their time and/ or advice

  • After an interview or business meeting

As always, if you have any question, comments, or suggestions you can tweet me at @luzplaza.

Luz Plaza