Networking. A place where strategy embraces serendipity. The neophytes will aim for quantity, play elbows to get a 2 min “discussion” with the main speakers and hopefully a “LinkedIn connection”. And a pile of business cards that may end in unanswered emails and a messy card boxes. Sounds familiar? For anybody who had to use his pilgrim stick to open a new market, it probably does. (easy tip: private societies / clubs can ease the task here.).
Beyond the bravery and the experience of vulnerability that sharpens the padawan, and somehow counter-intuitively, one should rather shoot for qualitative discussions delivering actionable contacts. And a qualitative discussion takes time. It’s about listening and speaking slowly capping de facto the number of possibilities.
The magic number is 2. After meeting 2 persons for real in a social event, just leave. You’ve done your job. Anyway, it is probably the end of the event already, once again “for real” requires time.
The second tip lies on the left side of your thorax. The organ is beating for something indeed. Let’s call it a passion. Your favorite hobbies, your football team, your car… No passion? Pick your interests and dig. No interests? Get a therapist.
When meeting someone around a topic / activity you cherish, there is a direct “group-in” attitude that makes the connection obvious, memorable and therefore actionable. Just make sure you don’t fall on a pure transactional attitude here. It’s indeed a double-edged sword. The passion / interest needs to remain at the core of the interaction. Anyway, you don’t want to sacrifice it on the altar of success, do you?
Last but not least, the most powerful tool. A tool that needs to be used wisely and authentically. One called it the power of vulnerability. Generally, in a one to one context. Check first if your intuition tells you that you can trust this person. If yes, share something that is hard for you to digest at a personal level. The perfect cases: relationship issues, a recent loss, mental health challenges … You will be surprised by the response. It’s a call to universal empathy, an empathy quite accessible to relate to for the simple reason that we are all suffering. Your listener puts himself in a “oh me too” mindset. Hearts open. You have a friend for life.
Leo Babauta has a deeper take on this angle.
The summary may be “be authentic and authenticity comes to you”. Natural flows. And only authenticity lasts, matters, fulfills.
Be happy, be happy.