How To Get Better At Networking

Here’s how most people approach networking:

“Uh-oh, our Kickstarter is about to launch and we have zero people on our email list. Let me go to some networking events, hopefully find 2–3 influencers I can do something for, and then they’ll share.”

These people do find influencers. The problem is they see right through this sham. And then these people lose.

Here’s a situation where someone pitches their free ebook to the audience when asking Gary Vaynerchuk a question, which he instantly rips apart as a disguised right hook.

Here’s how winners approach networking:

In Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi says what the best networkers know:

You have to build your network long before you need it.

As the saying goes…

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.”

So when someone like Seth Godin launches a Kickstarter, it’s not an emergency, but merely him whispering to his network: “The thing I’m building? Oh, yeah, it’s ready.”

And off it goes. He says the platform should be called Kickfinisher, because if you take 10 years before you press the button, it’s the end, not the beginning.

A great conversation.

For whatever business outcome you’re trying to achieve, if the crowd you eventually whisper to it about includes what Kevin Kelly calls 1,000 true fans, you’re likely to make it happen.

I like to think of these people as 1,000 true friends. Going back to Ferrazzi’s book, he says how you spend time with people matters a lot more than how much time you spend with them. He calls it relationship glue.

Don’t go wide with those that don’t know you. Go deep with those, who do. Isn’t it funny how our best “contacts” after an event are those with whom we went through the most trouble?

  • The guy who also coughed his lungs out on the 4-hour hike up the mountain, because like you, he isn’t cut out for that kind of stuff.
  • The friendly writer you got stuck in the elevator with and had to kill 25 minutes with, which you spent talking about kids’ science fiction.
  • The caterer staff who challenged your Western philosophy with a lesson learned from Confucius.

The best small talk isn’t small at all. Bernie Roth nails it when he says to forget networking and focus on making real friends in The Achievement Habit.

Every time you treat someone as a business contact, you lose out on making a true friend.

Ironically, especially when it comes to professional life, if you go into a new relationship with business on top of mind, you won’t make the kind of connection you actually want.

The best networkers don’t network at all. They go wherever they think they can help and then they do. They know the world will catch up to them soon enough.

Or, as the man, whose network is so strong even Google knows him by his first name, would put it: The long way is the shortcut.