Networking is a polarzing activity. You either hate it or love it. You either do it well or not well at all.
Having been part of a large consulting firm and running my own web strategy company, I’ve had to do a lot of networking.
There are several right and wrong ways to network, but that is not what this piece is about; rather, I want to share — what I feel to be — the best tip for networking…
Learn one fact about each contact.
Gaining introduction and meeting somebody for the first time is easy. It is the follow-up that is the hard part.
How do I make the other person WANT to talk to me the next time he or she sees me?
The second time you approach your new contact, the conversation should not be about work, weather, or any general topic. That keeps you at stranger level. You want to get closer. Start the conversation with the fact you learned about the person.
For example, when I worked at the consulting firm I made sure to learn one fact about each Senior Manager (SM). I learned one SM just had a baby, another SM loved talking about his house renovations, and another SM enjoyed trying new restaurants. These are pretty simple facts you can find out in the first few minutes of meeting somebody — remember them. WRITE IT DOWN if you need to.
The next time you see that contact bring up the fact, and then let them run away with the conversation. People love talking about themselves. Over time, the conversations will get more personal, you will learn more about the contact, and it will be even easier to communicate. A more effective relationship will develop.
A person is more likely to do a favor for someone that shows interest in what he or she likes. It creates a connection. The “one fact” tip helps speed along the connection time.
In the case of the SM who loved trying new restaurants, I would continually ask her advice about different restaurants and what might be best for certain occassions. Eventually our relationship grew to where she would ask me how my dinners went and what I thought of restaurants.
Our relationship developed, and I was able to benefit in the capacity of better projects, expediting assistance, and good recommendations.
The hardest part of networking is the second meeting. Learn one fact and use it. This simple tip will help you, substantially, make better connections in the networking journey.