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5 Tips For Networking at Events

5 Tips For Networking at Events

These days we learn more about networking on social media than we do networking in real life situations. Here John Corcoran of Dumb Little Man and former Clinton White House Writer shares five tips for face-to-face networking at events:

Social media is hot. Everyone is talking about Facebook, Twitter, and every other social media site under the sun. These are great tools for building and maintaining relationships. But they aren’t everything. When it comes to developing powerful relationships, social media is still no substitute for old-fashioned, face-to-face networking.

In-person networking is simply one of the best activities you can engage in for your career or your business, hands down. Anyone who thinks they can stay behind their computer, holed away at home, relying 100% on social media for meeting people and developing key relationships is fooling themselves.

In fact, the most effective networking approach today is twofold: one part online, and one part old-fashioned, face-to-face, in-person networking. They are two sides of the same coin. A good networking plan does not rely too much on either online or offline networking, but does include aspects of both.

How Face-to-Face Networking Is Different 

Face-to-face networking is very different from social networking. For starters, you’ll actually need to put on pants. Sorry, but this is a mandatory requirement. If you work from home, that means you may need to change out of your pajamas (hopefully it’s not the first time in days).

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I recognize that networking at in-person events is more difficult for those who are shy or introverted. However, there are many little “hacks” you can use to make face-to-face networking easier on yourself, whether you are introverted or not.

Here are a 5 killer hacks for networking effectively at old-fashioned, in-person events:

1.  Commit Yourself to Helping Others.

Before you go to any networking event, I want you to summon your most positive, can-do, helpful attitude, and I want you to not even think about getting clients, customers, or a new job. For some people, this may seem completely counter-intuitive. After all, isn’t the whole point of networking to get more business or to further your career?

The truth is, if you go into an in-person networking event just thinking about yourself, people will sniff you out in a heartbeat. You’ll stand out more than Bugs Bunny dressed up as a girl.

Conversely, if you commit yourself to helping others in any way possible – be it a restaurant recommendation, or a tech tip, or a book suggestion – you will be more human and people will want to help you in return.

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Here’s the “hack” part – after your event, email at least 1 or 2 people you met at the event with a tip, advice, resource, or some other way to help, based on what you learned about them. This one little step will go a long way.

2.  Make An Introduction.

I love introducing people. If you introduce two people and they hit it off, they will always be grateful to you. Trust me on this – my parents first met on a blind date.

And people who you have introduced to someone else are more likely to return the favor. This works even with people you just met at an in-person networking event.

3. Connect with People Over their Families.

You know that saying, “the easiest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”?  Well, I believe the easiest way to a networking partner’s heart is through their immediate family members.

At most networking events, people talk about work-related or industry-related subjects. That’s what everyone else does, but you don’t need to do that. You can really distinguish yourself by talking about a person’s spouse or family, if you get the right opportunity.

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If you just met someone and start asking about a person’s family without the proper opening, they’re probably just going to think you’re a weirdo. But if you do get an opening, then asking about a person’s family and looking for opportunities to help their children or spouse is an excellent hack for getting to know them a lot better.

4.  If You Are Shy or Introverted, Focus on Others.

I get asked a lot about what advice I have for people who really hate networking because they are shy or introverted. If you are really shy and don’t like meeting new people, then the best advice I can give you is that the best conversationalists often don’t talk much at all. 

People love talking about themselves, and if you ask a lot of questions and take a lot of interest in them, you don’t have to be a good conversationalist. Most people will enjoy the opportunity to speak about themselves to a captive audience.  And they will enjoy speaking with you.

5.  Use the 80/20 Rule for Following Up.

If you were to measure the amount of time most people spend on networking activities aimed at meeting new people vs. the amount of time they spend following up with the people they already know, you’d be shocked at how imbalanced it is.

People spend too much time trying to meet new people and too little time following up with and nurturing relationships with people they already know.

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In fact, your efforts should be the other way around: use the 80/20 rule (aka the Pareto Principle) to further and develop relationships with your existing network.

This in turn will lead to meeting new people because people who you already know are more likely to be a gateway for you to their friends and connections.

After all, you have already spent time and energy getting to know people in your network and they have already (presumably) grown to know, like and trust you.

So be sure to spend time and energy networking with people who are in your network already.

John Corcoran is an attorney, former Clinton White House Writer, and creator of SmartBusinessRevolution.com, where he writes how to network effectively.

5 Killer “Hacks” for Networking at Events | Dumb Little Man

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Enjoy Taking Risks

10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Enjoy Taking Risks

The ability to take risks by stepping outside your comfort zone is the primary way by which we grow. But we are often afraid to take that first step.

In truth, comfort zones are not really about comfort, they are about fear. Break the chains of fear to get outside. Once you do, you will learn to enjoy the process of taking risks and growing in the process.

Here are 10 ways to help you step out of your comfort zone and get closer to success:

1. Become aware of what’s outside of your comfort zone

What are the things that you believe are worth doing but are afraid of doing yourself because of the potential for disappointment or failure?

Draw a circle and write those things down outside the circle. This process will not only allow you to clearly identify your discomforts, but your comforts. Write identified comforts inside the circle.

2. Become clear about what you are aiming to overcome

Take the list of discomforts and go deeper. Remember, the primary emotion you are trying to overcome is fear.

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How does this fear apply uniquely to each situation? Be very specific.

Are you afraid of walking up to people and introducing yourself in social situations? Why? Is it because you are insecure about the sound of your voice? Are you insecure about your looks?

Or, are you afraid of being ignored?

3. Get comfortable with discomfort

One way to get outside of your comfort zone is to literally expand it. Make it a goal to avoid running away from discomfort.

Let’s stay with the theme of meeting people in social settings. If you start feeling a little panicked when talking to someone you’ve just met, try to stay with it a little longer than you normally would before retreating to comfort. If you stay long enough and practice often enough, it will start to become less uncomfortable.

4. See failure as a teacher

Many of us are so afraid of failure that we would rather do nothing than take a shot at our dreams.

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Begin to treat failure as a teacher. What did you learn from the experience? How can you take that lesson to your next adventure to increase your chance of success?

Many highly successful people failed plenty of times before they succeeded. Here’re some examples:

10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

5. Take baby steps

Don’t try to jump outside your comfort zone, you will likely become overwhelmed and jump right back in.

Take small steps toward the fear you are trying to overcome. If you want to do public speaking, start by taking every opportunity to speak to small groups of people. You can even practice with family and friends.

Take a look at this article on how you can start taking baby steps:

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The Number One Secret to Life Success: Baby Steps

6. Hang out with risk takers

There is no substitute for this step. If you want to become better at something, you must start hanging out with the people who are doing what you want to do and start emulating them. (Here’re 8 Reasons Why Risk Takers Are More Likely To Be Successful).

Almost inevitably, their influence will start have an effect on your behavior.

7. Be honest with yourself when you are trying to make excuses

Don’t say “Oh, I just don’t have the time for this right now.” Instead, be honest and say “I am afraid to do this.”

Don’t make excuses, just be honest. You will be in a better place to confront what is truly bothering you and increase your chance of moving forward.

8. Identify how stepping out will benefit you

What will the ability to engage in public speaking do for your personal and professional growth? Keep these potential benefits in mind as motivations to push through fear.

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9. Don’t take yourself too seriously

Learn to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes. Risk taking will inevitably involve failure and setbacks that will sometimes make you look foolish to others. Be happy to roll with the punches when others poke fun.

If you aren’t convinced yet, check out these 6 Reasons Not to Take Life So Seriously.

10. Focus on the fun

Enjoy the process of stepping outside your safe boundaries. Enjoy the fun of discovering things about yourself that you may not have been aware of previously.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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