We are more connected than at any other time in history, yet networking seems more important than it has ever been. Whether you are looking to advance your career or build your business, the old expression “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is often true. In today’s post, Christian Deslauriers provides you with his advice on how to network successfully.
Six degrees of Kevin Bacon
Most people have probably played the Kevin Bacon game. In it, you try to go from any actor or actress to Keven Bacon in six degrees of separation. The lesson is simple: most anyone is only six degrees of separation from anyone else. With this in mind, you never know who may actually be in another person’s network. Every person you meet could be just six degrees from Elon Musk, Justin Trudeau, or Richard Branson. Successful networkers approach each interaction as an opportunity, even if that opportunity may not be overt.
Be yourself, don’t sell yourself
Some people believe the elevator pitch is the key to networking success, and they’ll spend a lot of time perfecting it. However, in Christian Deslauriers’s experience, people can smell a phony from a mile away. Nobody likes being pitched in a casual setting, so he suggests you be yourself instead of selling yourself. The best connections are made via genuine human connection. When someone feels they know you, they are more likely to want to help others get to know you. By seeking genuine connections, you are more likely to achieve genuine relationships, and they are the foundation of your network.
Everyone loves a listener
When you seek to make new network connections, Christian Deslauriers advises you to consider the other person. Don’t feel inclined to just talk about yourself. Human nature seeks validation, so we tend to want to project our best self. Networking isn’t just about proving yourself worthy of that new node in your network. Learn to practice active and engaged listening. When you allow others to share the stage, you share the validation and open doors that might have remained closed to your elevator pitch.
Relationships are reciprocal
Networking is, above all else, about building relationships. Real relationships are mutually beneficial, so it is worth remembering that the first step in adding someone to your network might be you being an important connection for them. Remember to help others connect and to build bridges selflessly. Afterall, you never know if that person might be connected to someone essential to your career.
Most importantly, follow up. Meet people, make connections, and offer assistance. However, follow through with your promises and follow up on those connections. By being genuine in your relationships and proving yourself reliable, you are more likely to have those new members of your network refer you to others. Further, real connections don’t necessarily happen overnight. Sowing seeds now may yield an unforeseen harvest later. So, stay in touch, keep your promises, and remember those who help you.