23 Ivy League Networking Secrets, That Actually Work! Part 1.


If you’re an introvert like me, the very word sends a cold shiver down your spine, and the thought of going to an event after work, puts a pit in your stomach.

You might have even tried your hand at networking: picked out your extra special networking outfit, fought traffic on the way to one of those networking events that happened either super early in the morning or right after work.

You’ve probably also seen those natural networkers who seem to be meeting every important person in the room and having a blast doing it.

I must admit, I used to get pretty jealous of people like that.

You might feel that way too.

I got good at networking because I had to.

At 30 years old I found myself unemployed, with no college degree, and a work history of my own businesses in “shady” industries like dating advice and real estate wholesaling.

However, luckily I was able to reach out within my own personal network to a friend we’ll call “Ryan,” who got this MBA from Harvard.

(I can’t call him by his real name because he currently holds an important political office in a major city.)

When I asked him what the most important thing he learned at Harvard Business School he said without hesitation:

“How networking REALLY works.”

It was using his ideas that I’m about to share with you that I was able to secure a 6 figure consulting position.

All without a college degree or any useful work experience in the area.

23 Ivy League Networking Secrets That Actually Work

1. 90% of people miss the point of Networking:

The point of networking is to meet people and make deals. It’s important that you remember both of these separate but equal points.

You have to show up to a networking event with this mindset. A lot of times we get too caught up in our own thoughts, worries and insecurities.

Remember everyone there is just like you, they are there to meet people and make deals.

2. Understand the type of person you need to meet.

Before you go to a networking event you need to sit down and spend some time figuring out what type of people you want to meet there.

This could be recruiters, suppliers, joint venture partners, investors or something else depending on your situation.

3. Have an EASY to explain story.

Kent Linebeck in The Harvard Business review said: “Bullet points of achievement are lovely yes, but the key part of a resume that has impact is the story you tell.” The same is doubly true when it comes to networking.

People do not want to hear you bragging about your accomplishments. They DO want to hear interesting or unusual stories. So we need to craft an interesting story about how we do what we do. I call this your Core Competency Story.

4. Don’t worry about being rude.

One of the big things people worry about at networking events is getting stuck in a conversation they don’t want to be in and not wanting to appear rude by leaving abruptly.

Stop worrying about this. People KNOW you’re there to network and meet lots of people.

5. Start with how you can help them for free.

One of the biggest mistakes that networkers make is starting with what they need as opposed to what they can do for the other person.

Come up with a few low or no cost things you could do for the people you want to meet at networking events.

6. Know the 3 unwritten rules of networking:

A. You CAN interrupt a group of people talking. If there’s someone you want to talk to and they’re in a conversation it’s perfectly fine to interrupt and introduce yourself to everyone in the group. The best networkers do this all the time.

B. Only exchange business cards at the end of an interaction and ONLY if you really want to follow up. If someone tells you they don’t have a business card, they’re blowing you off, unless they offer another source of contact info.

C. Don’t be a group jumper. We’ve all seen those people who jump from group to group handing out cards and reciting the same “elevator pitch.” Don’t be that person! Be discreet.

7. Explain your core competency.

The biggest mistake people make networking is failing to explain their core competency. Your core competency is how you create value for people.

8. Understand the social contracts of networking.

In Hebrew the word Haver means friend. In addition Hav means obligation.

So a friend is someone you have an obligation to.

That’s a good definition of what networking is about. A friend we network with is someone we have a social obligation to help out if we can.

9. Use cold reading to make the other person feel understood.

Cold reading is what palm readers and other “psychics” do when they seemingly know things they shouldn’t about other people.

Cold reading is a great way to build rapport with someone by making trying to explain how the world looks through their eyes.

For example if I’m talking to someone who looks really nervous, I’ll say something like:

“I can tell you’re a little nervous and you probably don’t love having to come to these things, but I bet once you get comfortable you’re the life of the party.”

Whether the person is an introvert or an extrovert, everyone can relate to this universal feeling and feel understood.

10. Use the right conversational ratio

In a 2013 study at UCLA they found that when approaching a group of strangers (like a networking event). Students that talked 60–75% of the time for the 1st3–5 minutes of joining the group did twice as well at gaining acceptance as those who spoke 50% or less.

So we want to do the majority of the talking when we first join a group.

That’s the first 10 secrets, be sure to check back tomorrow for the next 7, where I reveal how to use “the blemishing effect” and create your own in group.

Originally published at www.socialnomics.net on April 22, 2015.