According to Dr. Brian G. Gilmartin author of “Love and Shyness: Causes, consequences and treatment”, about 70 percent of the best job and career opportunities are obtained under the table through informal social networks.
Moreover, recent studies have shown that compared to jobs obtained the regular ways, jobs obtained through informal social networks pay significantly better, provide far better growth opportunities, are about three times more likely to provide high levels of career satisfaction, and aree about five times more likely to be retained by the incumbent for ten or more years.
To sum it up: It`s not what you know, it`s who you know.
Yes networking can be a difficult and very awkward process but if left undone you will be risking to lose 70 percent of your growth opportunities for those who may not be as good as you but they know how to reach out and ask for a ”Push”.
In this article, I will show you 14 rules, if followed you will be able to master the art of networking.
1. Stop focusing on what you want
Smart networking is mostly based on mutual benefits. I help and you help me back, and since you`re the one who wants to connect then you’re the one who must start this win-win relationship by adding value to the other person`s life.
In her book “The Connectors: How the world`s most successful business people build relationships and win clients for life” famous marketing consultant Maribeth Kuzmesky says:
“Concentrating on others’ needs can be extremely beneficial; you can assume that almost everyone else’s focus is ‘‘What’s in it for me’’ and not vice-versa. Therefore, adopting a ”What’s in it for them’’ mentality will actually allow you to stand out in a crowd.”
In other words; focusing on others will always bring you more which can take us to the second rule of smart networking.
2. Listen Curiously
Maribeth Kuzmesky continues:
“Connecting is not about being a great talker, in order to connect effectively you must be an active listener which is very different from hearing.”
This is difficult because very often the listener is so busy thinking about responding to what the speaker is saying that he misses much of what the speaker is trying to convey.
3. Know what to do if they don`t talk much
It’s hard to listen if the other member of your exchange isn’t doing much talking. To really connect with someone, you need to ask good questions that show you are interested, help you learn, and will allow you to use your listening skills.
4. Know how to network by email
If you network by email, all you need is to do your homework and research your target. The best way to do that is by reading what they post or say on social media or even taking a look at their blog posts. This will help you know what they love, what they need and what they complain about.
What you have to do is to keep tracking them until you find what I call “an effective point of entry” that will let you grab that person’s attention or at least reduces the chances of them neglecting your email.
5. Stay short and quick
You have less than 10 seconds (or a single paragraph if you`re emailing) to grab someone’s attention. The best tool to overcome this is a short targeted pitch that tells people who you are, what you do and what you can offer.
Busy people don`t like wasting their time, make sure you get their attention before they feel their time getting wasted.
6. Network with everyone
You shouldn’t connect with people only inside your area of expertise. Grow your network and connect with people outside your industry. You don`t know what the future holds for you, you might need them someday.
7. Until you get under their radar, don`t ask for anything
Influencers and important people face lots of mediocre or pushy networking attempts every single day and they suspect new approaches and new emails almost all the time, and sometimes even after adding value to their lives you still won`t get a clear chance to ask them to repay your favor.
That`s why you must have enough patience to wait until it’s the right time to ask for what you want. And when will this “right time” come? I don`t know. You know them better than me.
8. Introduce people to each other
The best way to owe someone a favor is by simply introducing him or her to someone who can benefit them.
Assuming that you know both persons well, a simple email asking both of them if they like to be introduced to each other (while stating what`s in it for them) will set you as a “know’em all” person and of course; both of them will pay you later if things work well.
9. All people are not the right people
Quality matters when networking with people. If you`re going to approach someone then make sure that you are approaching someone who can help (knowing that you will offer help first). Other than that, you are simply wasting your time.
10. If it`s your first time or if you`re afraid, then do it the clumsy way
Networking is simply reaching out to those you have no relationship with, which is scary for a lot of people.
If it frightens you, then doing it the clumsy way is better than not doing it at all (while working on upgrading your skills).
If you feel overwhelmed because you`re not that qualified or because your pitch is not extra professional then jump into the water right away and click send or push the call button. Just like what Michael Jordan has said:
“I can accept failure but I can`t accept not trying.”
11. Don`t be an Ass licker
Most people perceive too much complementing as fake or cheap especially when it comes from someone they barely know or not know at all.
Even if you really admire that person, don’t over show it and make sure that they respect you as much as you want them to like you. An easy catch is always boring, avoid being in such position.
12. Accept that you will get rejected, many times.
Don`t take it personal, sometimes people are busy or they just don`t like you (you too get busy or don`t like someone for no reason). Accept that and get over it quickly. It’s a part of the game.
13. Find a mentor
“You need mentors in your life to take you to the places you want to go!!! Why do you need mentors? Well, it’s simple. Mentors cause you to change, or stretch yourself to new limits not known before. They also give you a larger vision for your life than you can see for yourself.” – Tom Pace
Build a list of 3-7 people whom you’d like to be your mentor and reach out to them. Follow them, learn from them and even work for them for free.
A mentor can teach you what books can’t plus once a mentor trusts you, his or her network becomes your network.
You offer them help plus prestige or ego satisfaction and they offer you experience and connections. That`s a strong relationship from which both of you can win.
14. Never be too busy for networking
Networking is business, and if done right it will save you time and make you money more than anything else on your busy schedule.
Leave some space on your schedule for networking. Something as simple as reaching out to one person a day can do miracles to your business. It doesn`t matter to start small, as long as you are consistent enough.
Featured photo credit: Justin Brown via flickr.com