“It’s the connections we make in real time which help us forge ahead on our journeys with grace, grit, and renewed energy and purpose!”
— Penina Rybak, Author: The NICE Reboot: A Guide to Becoming a Better Female Entrepreneur: How to Balance Your Cravings for Humanity and Technology in Today’s Startup Culture
“Conventional wisdom-outside of the technology industry-on innovation and career building has hardly evolved since the 19th century.”
— Shane Snow, Author: Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
In today’s Digital Age where forging connections with people happens on a new playing field; social media, the rules of engagement have changed. Some would say that the live event has a short shelf life. Others argue that networking is still invaluable for entrepreneurs in particular. I would have to agree, especially after I attended several networking events which prompted me to write this current series here on WordPress.
I was bothered by the mistakes I saw my fellow leaders-in-training and potential mentors making, but then again, it may be due to the poor example that has been set recently in the political arena. It takes time for professionals in any industry to understand how to work the room and what it takes to achieve referral success. It could take longer for non-introspective people to understand the concept of archetypes i.e. buyer personae and social media personalities; something on all our radars. It’s something today’s successful entrepreneur (interested in creating a network of collaborators) comprehends and leverages to create an ecosystem, not just a house of cards built with business cards.
When you think about it, the way one approaches negotiations is the way one should approach networking. That’s why it’s crucial to understand whom you are meeting and what kind of genuine communication with them will be the most effective.
So who do we meet at networking events that we should try and avoid at all costs?
I find that no matter where I go, I keep bumping into these 4 types of proverbial networkers mixed in with the rest of the crowd. No matter where I go, they follow me, and their behavior follows the same pattern no matter which venue or locale. Worse, they all follow the same script and dialogue, really a monologue, one that causes pain points to happen, not get fixed!
- The Slick Salesman: The one who doesn’t know that the days of the hard sell are over. The one who starts every conversation with the words, “What’s your conversion rate? Networking tip: TALK HUMAN for better emotional engagement, not to mention making a better overall impression!
- The Snob: The one who waits to be approached, the one who only talks to people in the same “silo”, the one whom I ask to introduce me to others in the room, or the speaker etc. and who tells me “out of my orbit, can’t approach or follow ’em online!” Networking tip: CROSS POLLINATE for increased problem solving, creativity, and better thought leadership/virtual mentorship overall!
- The Droner: The nonstop over-sharing pseudo-conversationalist. The one who starts every exchange with a total recap and recitation “Here’s my life story”. Networking tip: ASK QUESTIONS, be a listener first…. the future of work, not to mention collaboration, is all about turning Me>We!
- The Drive By: The one who darts from person to person but doesn’t really register with anyone, and isn’t remembered later on. The one who just doesn’t “get it” and answers most queries with “I’m online, you can find me on___ etc.” Networking tip: BE PREPARED! That means carrying business cards, smart phone charged, pen at the ready, pitch at the ready, nicely/professionally dressed, knowledgeable (if not, ask questions!) about the other person’s field/interests, and carrying “swag” and “bling” for branding purposes if appropriate.
Networking today is about doing an authentic dance with others geared towards finding common ground. It’s a learning process that can be challenging. Why? Because of the need to discover similarities while still appreciating, respecting, and understanding the differences in performance and communication that make us all the unique, talented, and diverse thinkers we are.
Successful networking results in actionable takeaways and feeling validated and a sense of renewed purpose which further leads to increased productivity. Ineffective networking maintains our inertia and can sap our time and energy, not to mention our tangible and intangible resources.
So how can we improve our networking skills, especially in today’s startup culture?
To be continued……