Subtle Art of Networking! Grow Your Network with this Powerful Hack!
Just show up!
You read it right. Just show up. Showing up is a very simple act, does not require much effort, requires no preparation and requires no awkward conversations.
Broadly speaking, I would characterize myself as an introvert. It used to be difficult for me to stay in a networking event with hundreds of unknown faces trying to sell themselves to potential future partners and faking their interest in others. Striking a conversation was even tougher. You had to speak to person for a long time, ask questions to get something out of them so as to start a real conversation. I had even been to some events where I attended the sessions and came back — without even speaking to one person and without exchanging any business cards. But, there’s one thing I did very religiously — I showed up. I showed up to to one particular event every month, for about six months.
But, there’s one thing I did very religiously — I showed up.
Whatever your purpose of networking is — be it getting a new job, starting a startup, raising funds, marketing, etc. networking events or other meetups help you connect with the right people. But it is hard to develop meaningful relationships when you meet so many people in zillions of events you attend. Depending on your desperation, your needs and your interest, you may not need to remember and connect with all those you meet. All you need to do is show up — show up to the event of the person you want to network with, show up to the events your investor goes to, show up to event where your potential employer goes to. (It’s obvious but i’ll still write it — don’t be creepy!)
If you find networking difficult, this is the simplest, tested and an efficient way to connect. When you show up to any event, even for the first time, you generally meet and greet the organizers, or the speaker, people at the sign up table. You do not need to put extra effort to do any other thing. Pick a spot, stand there and look around. Look around for someone.
It may sound stupid, but no one will leave you alone in a networking event!
It may sound stupid, but no one will leave you alone in a networking event, especially if the people there do not know how you can help them. Someone would definitely come to you and start a conversation. Stretch it as long as it is comfortable and practice some Networking 101 with the person and see how it goes. Once the event ends, feel free to find your way to exit, but do not leave before it ends. Not leaving the event until its finished gives a good signal, but there might be hundreds of others too — so don’t get discouraged and prepare yourself for the next event.
Let this continue and show up for all the events you feel are relevant to your case. However, there is a catch here — you have to be the person you are and not fake yourself. If you fake, you would change over the time, but you’re genuine, you would shine out. After three or four events, you would start recognizing some familiar faces in the crowd, and so would they. They would know you show up every event and that’s where the trust and relationship begins. If you practiced some Networking 101 in the events before, it would be a little easier to approach talk to these familiar faces. There’s a good chance you both would strike a cord and would find something worthy in each other just because you both have been attending the events regularly. Showing up in the next event may lead you to introductions to relevant people by the familiar faces you networked with before and suddenly you would find your network growing in the direction you want.
Just show up — it sounds simple but has helped me make some good connections with people in the industry. Generally, I now feel far from being introverted in a networking event and could approach someone easily and strike a conversation. So, once you get this, there are more advanced ways to make the best out of your time. Till then, just show up!