Six Steps to Network Better
Networking, simply stated, is doing everything you can on a regular basis to secure and expand your personal relationships in order to increase the likelihood for success—your own success and the success of others. I would also define networking as developing an extended group of people with similar interests or concerns that interact and remain in contact for mutual support and assistance. Through the benefits of technology, your networking reach can be wider and deeper than ever before.
Networking, however, often stirs up anxiety and angst in people, but it really doesn’t have to if viewed from the correct perspective. Here are 6 tips to make your networking efforts easier and more successful than ever before:
1. 90 percent of success in life comes from just showing up.
This became ever more apparent to me in July of 2008 when I "showed up" at a conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, and had a fortuitous meeting with Steve Wozniak, the inventor of the Apple computer. That meeting was the beginning of a friendship and business relationship that has now spanned the course of five years, and resulted in Steve joining our team at Fusion-io as Chief Scientist.
2. Show up in style. Stand out from the crowd when you attend an event.
This can be as simple as wearing brightly colored clothing! When tastefully done, your appearance can help make you memorable. Finding connections is a great foundation for business or personal relationships. But networking is done one event at a time, one contact at a time. As we talk about networking and connecting with people, it is significant to remember that connections begin with intersections. There is a point of contact at a specific place and time.
3. Show up with purpose. Go to receptions and conventions with the intent of seeing what you can do for others.
Deborah Day once said: "Encourage, lift and strengthen one another. For the positive energy spread to one will be felt by us all. For we are connected, one and all." Reaching out to others with a genuine desire to help them accomplish their goals is the best way to succeed in your own life and relationships. In this respect, I like the concept of consultative selling where 90 percent of your conversation with potential clients and customers is about what their needs are. Once you really understand where the other person is coming from, the easier it will be to port your skill sets and expertise to help them resolve their problems.
4. Show up on professional groups on LinkedIn and Google+ and actively post comments so people will keep you at the top of their mind.
Consistently and purposefully showing up at virtual events will help you meet other people who also want to up their game. Think on this: If you added just five people a day on LinkedIn, over a year’s time you would create more than 1,500 new connections. Each connection offers multiple possibilities in business, relationships, and support.
5. Be the first person to arrive at an event.
You will be able to more quickly judge how to navigate the situation. You have the opportunity to stand out and set yourself apart. To facilitate more connections and more networks, one has to actively engage in the process. This takes courage and tenacity. It takes a concerted effort over time.
6. Conquer your fear and be bold!
I got hired for the best two jobs I ever had by walking into the business I was targeting and asking to speak with someone that had the power to hire me. At the time, I felt depleted—desperation and frustration were starting to get the best of me. I felt overwhelmed and doubted my abilities. I felt like quitting. But I shook off the feeling, stayed alert, and watched for an opportunity to connect. As the elevator stopped on the 10th floor, I happened to glance up. The name on the reception desk just outside the elevator read: Law Offices of Irsfeld, Irsfeld, and Younger. I took a deep breath and stepped out of the elevator. I walked to the receptionist and stated, "I am here to see the hiring partner for the law firm." The receptionist replied warmly, "I’ll go see if Mr. Waldorf is in." A few minutes later, Jim Waldorf appeared, and I was offered a clerkship. Sometimes, you simply have to be show up and be bold!
Which of these 6 steps are ones you could improve upon? Any others you’d add to the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
David Bradford, "The Bottlecap Kid," is Executive Chairman and former CEO of HireVue, former CEO of Fusion-io, and a member of the Utah Technology Council Hall of Fame. David is known for accelerating the growth and performance of game-changing organizations by utilizing his "UP Principles" which he outlines in his new book, UP YOUR GAME: 6 Timeless Principles for Networking Your Way to the Top. His last two companies, HireVue and Fusion-io are two of the fastest growing tech businesses in the U.S. Learn more about David and UP YOUR GAME at DavidBradford.com