There is a big misconception that networking is a talent you are born with. Like playing a sport, or working out, networking is a skill and a muscle that needs practice and repetition. Here are some tips to get started.
1. Do not look beyond the person in front of you. Give everyone you talk to your full attention. It’s very disrespectful to look past someone who is talking to you in the hope of talking with someone else. Each interaction, and the way you approach each interaction, matters.
2. Understand it’s a process. As Philadelphia 76er Joel Embiid says, “Trust the process.” To be successful at networking, you must make it a consistent part of your routine. Networking for a month and then stopping will get you nowhere. It is only after months and years of constant activity that you will see the fruits of your labor.
3. Follow-up is everything. It’s less about the events you attend, but rather the follow-up from the events. Always try to be able to meet at least one person from each event for a follow-up appointment. Quality is more important than quantity!
4. Refer as much as possible.The more you give, the more you get. Being able to refer others makes you a center of influence, where you are top of mind in the people in your network.
5. Build your team. Try to create a support “team” of networkers around you so that you can attend events together. If you surround yourself with other networkers, then as their networks grow, so do yours! I always look to meet people who are aggressive and hungry early on, so you can both grow together.