I Want to Meet Drew Houston, and I’m Going to.
Now most people would call me crazy. I live in the arctic of Michigan, and San Francisco is clear across the country from me. I have full faith that I can meet Drew Houston, though. For those of you that don’t know the driven developer who founded Dropbox, here’s his LinkedIn profile.
Rework How You’re Networking
Now, here’s how I’d like to start. As 99% of you read this post, you’ll think of the verb networking in a much more obsolete way than I do, and I just want to explain myself with the term networking. Networking isn’t picking up your business cards and going to your nearest Meetup event — in fact, that’s far from the true power of networking.
These events can be conquered in your favor much more efficiently if you spend your time with just a few individuals. Spend time getting to know them and build an electric connection with them. Your main goal is to build a connection, offer them help with something they have problems with, and then further down the line you can ask for a favor.
Networking is building and continually developing relationships. It’s extremely similar to building a relationship with a significant other; each of you have to pull your weight and provide some source of benefit to each other. For example, a close friend of mine is in film school, and I have and will continue to have a strong need for his videography skills for my marketing strategies. In turn, I help him with any personal branding he needs help with to build his career.
Do Your Homework
The realistic approach of networking involves still going to conferences and places to meet other individuals, but being prepared ahead of time by doing your homework.
It’s time to pull out your Excel spreadsheet. Start listing out names of individuals who you have a desire to meet, and list out their field, where they’re located, any mutual connections you have with this person, and any other information that could help you. After you have that laid out, you need to start working on building up your network towards that person.
Your network needs to look exactly like a healthy tree root system. You should branch out continuously to meet new individuals, providing them some sort of help once you meet them, and, hopefully, they, in turn, will introduce you to the next person along your line. You’ll be getting closer to your goal, and meeting extremely interesting people along the way.
So, you’ve finally narrowed down an exact time and date to meet this person. You contacted the head of the conference and they told you that this powerful individual you’d like to meet will be in attendance. What do you do now?
Do research about this person. Find out how they do business, where they attended school, more people that they may know, etc. This information can be used to direct conversation once you finally meet them, and he or she will be extremely flattered to notice that you know exactly what they’re about.
I’m going to use this exact approach to meet the people in my spreadsheet. I’ve used it before to immense success. And so has Keith Ferrazzi, the original genius to start this approach.
So stop wasting your time going to events and competing to hand out the most business cards. Instead, go to these events and spend your time with 2 or 3 individuals and truly get to know them. Set up lunch for the next afternoon, and start building a positive relationship with them, which can always turn into business for you later down the line.