As I’ve spent the last few months starting my company Massif Games, I’ve been engaged in a lot of networking. Networking is a common buzz word among entrepreneurs and the business community. And, I can attest to its value, as it has allowed me to meet people who have been very influential on my business and life. However, networking is expensive, from a time perspective. And the last few months have taught me a few lessons in what seems to have better results, for getting to know people, and building an effective network.
So here are few “Don’ts and Do’s” that I’ve learned. And if you’re not sure what networking is, read this article first!
- Spend a lot of time searching LinkedIn. LinkedIn is great, but other than reading interesting articles and keeping people’s contact information, it hasn’t been that useful for actually meeting people.
- Go to guest lectures and talks. The topics can be interesting, and there may be people who you want to meet, but ultimately, there are few opportunities to actually talk and connect with people.
- Spend too much time at events where everyone else is just like you. “Start up” events in my case, while fun and exciting, have one fundamental flaw: everyone else is a high energy entrepreneur like me. Go to events where people are different: artists, musicians, photographers, engineers, scientists, etc… Why? Because ultimately, you need connections to people who are different from you, that have different training, personality, and skills. These are the people who you will want to collaborate with.
- Go to everything you are invited to. Pick and choose wisely. Think: is spending 2 hours at this event a worthy investment of my time? Right now, I value my time at ~$25/hour. If you think of it that way, consider if the event is worth paying $50 to attend. I’m not saying don’t go to events, but make sure you are intentional in why you go.
- Go to an event when you are tired of people. This comes back to being intentional. If you are there, and don’t want to be there, you won’t be smiling, and it will be hard to have the energy it takes to actually connect and network.
- Network at events where people are eating or drinking together. Events where people are relaxed and you have an hour to converse, have provided WAY more valuable connections!
- Network at repeating events. For example, visiting a group that meets weekly, once or twice a month is going to provide you with much a much stronger network, then a one time meeting will. And because these events already have a strong network, you will have an ability to “piggyback” on its connections and find the people you need to meet.
- Be intentional. Choose a meeting, and go to it with the intentions of meeting new people and connecting.
- Be bold and approach people. I was at a class recently where an angel investor had given a brief talk. I could tell that he had years of experience in business, and I wanted to glean information from him. I approached him, we had a great conversation, and I got some info about equity distribution. The rest of the class just walked out. That was a free resource that 30 people missed!
- Ask people who they know. Sometimes you won’t meet people who can help you, but you meet their friends! When you are networking, share your challenges/needs and ask people who they know that could help you. You’d be surprised at the help you receive!
- Share contact information! Meeting someone won’t help your network, if you can’t contact them later! A lot of people have business cards. Personally, I like to find them on LinkedIn or type their email into my phone, right on the spot. There are also some cool apps for scanning business cards into your phone.
There are many more things that one can do for effective networking. I’ve only just touched the topic! What do you think? Disagree? Agree?
Comment below, I’d love to hear your opinion!