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Photo by Andy Beales on Unsplash

13 Guerrilla Networking Hacks … That Actually Work

Ryan Holmes
Aug 1, 2019 · 6 min read

If you’re anything like me, your email inbox is probably a mess. I get at least a few hundred emails a day. The ones from people I recognize get opened. The rest? Though I promise myself I’ll get to them eventually, I’ve had to declare “email bankruptcy” more than once.

Snail mail, on the other hand, is a different story. When a letter or package crosses my desk, I’ll generally open it. Over the years, some very smart folks out there have used this to their advantage to get on my radar. I’ve gotten books, gift baskets, t-shirts (including a nice one recently from PickWaste) and fuzzy mascots, generally accompanied by handwritten notes. In almost every instance, the senders have succeeded in their mission — grabbing my attention, if only for a few moments, to make an intro or a sales pitch or to ask for a follow-up call.

The all-time best example was a package containing a custom, wooden puzzle box (like this one). I could hear something rattling around inside; but, try as I might, couldn’t figure out how to open it. There was a phone number attached to the box. I broke down and called, and a sales consultant picked up. In the course of walking me through the solution, he delivered a pretty decent elevator pitch.

Gimmicky? No doubt. Effective? For sure.

Start with the basics

At the risk of ending up with a room full of puzzles, let me be clear: this is just one way to get your foot in the door (and probably won’t work twice on me). The real key here, as in all networking efforts, is to find a way to stand out and make an impression. Sometimes, exploiting the “novelty factor” — doing something unexpected or original — is the surest way to get noticed. More often than not, though, building a real connection starts with going the extra mile: doing your homework, asking the right questions and providing value rather than asking favors.

Case in point, I recently received a very unique “resume” from a junior developer: a link to a “Hootsuite version” of his C.V. He had recreated — from scratch — the look and feel of our dashboard, but in place of streams of social updates were streams of his experience and accomplishments. This not only showed off his technical chops, but also showed his love for our product — something any founder would find hard to resist.

But, of course, the initial connection is just the beginning. Real networking between two people unfolds over years or entire careers and is deeply reciprocal, not quid pro quo. It’s built on asking, “How can I help?” and consistently delivering, without expecting anything in return. In that respect, the best business networking and the basic laws of karma have an awful lot in common.

I think there’s one more key to successful networking: you’ve got to really, really want it. The people who are hungry, who truly believe in their idea or their mission, find a way. Not only is their passion contagious, but they’re willing to invest the time, energy and creativity to meet the right partners and make the right introductions. I run into entrepreneurs and aspiring leaders like this all the time: youth entrepreneurs in my charity, League of Innovators; colleagues at my own company; even people I’ve never met in real life that have connected with me online.

Crowd-Sourced Networking Hacks

Here are some of their top networking hacks, crowdsourced and compiled below. Thanks so much to everyone who shared their brilliant ideas (edited for length and clarity):

  • Instagram Your Resume: “I decided to try an unconventional approach to get a recruiter’s attention. I created an Instagram resumé. This approach ended up getting the attention of Gary Vaynerchuk and he shared this with his 1.57 million followers on Twitter!” — Sam Park, CEO of Instinctx

Got your own networking hack? Feel free to share in the comments or on social media to keep the conversation going.

The Helm

Today’s top business leaders, in their own words.

Ryan Holmes

Written by

Entrepreneur, investor, future enthusiast, inventor, hacker. Lover of dogs, owls and outdoor pursuits. Best-known as the founder and CEO of Hootsuite.

The Helm

The Helm

Business leadership advice, from real business leaders. The Helm is a carefully curated collection of insightful content from the business frontlines.

Ryan Holmes

Written by

Entrepreneur, investor, future enthusiast, inventor, hacker. Lover of dogs, owls and outdoor pursuits. Best-known as the founder and CEO of Hootsuite.

The Helm

The Helm

Business leadership advice, from real business leaders. The Helm is a carefully curated collection of insightful content from the business frontlines.

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