Networking to connect, not to sell

MINGLE, LOITER AND CROSS-POLLINATE

Networking is great (not a full stop) when you don’t care. Evil little gremlins that pop in and out with ‘they don’t care’, ‘you sound stupid’, ‘what’s special about you?’ — well they need shutting up. There’s think before you speak and then there’s networking, where thinking before you speak leaves me in a tailspin. From the past few months of attempting to network-my-arse-off, I have found three states of being at these events:

Mingle — Don’t think, just speak. Warm up your resting bitch face, smile and make eye contact. People are not mean by default. Walk over to people who are standing on their own, even if they are looking at their phone. People these days just can’t not do something with their hands for fear of spontaneously combusting. Some go to questions:

  • What brought you here?
  • Have you been to anything like this before?
  • What kind of people are you trying to connect with?

Log these answers, and their names (make genuine compliments and address their name to solidify it in your memory). Keep on the look out for other people on their own and welcome them into your random circle.

If they ask you what you do, well that’s practice for the elevator pitch, off you go! Practice, observe, tweak. Watch for feedback and try out different ways.

Leave on a high, doesn’t have to be complicated:

  • “I’m going to go keep mingling around, I’ll let you know if I find anyone you might be interested in”.
  • “Great meeting you. I’m going to get another drink, I’ll see you around.”

Loiter — It’s perfectly fine to wait for people to come to you. But you have to show you’re open for business! Don’t look at the phone. Head up and look around. They’ll be people mingling, looking for you so be ready and welcoming!

Cross-Pollinate — No one likes a hard sell. The point of networking isn’t to be flashing the goods at every breathing entity. Chill!

And chill some more.

I find it much easier to rewire my motives as connecting people across common interests. A bee doesn’t have the purpose of pollinating flowers, it just wants to get nectar. In the process, it passes pollen between different flowers, allowing them to reproduce. In the mingle state, you are gathering information so that you can share contacts. It might have no direct impact on you, right now, but you never know, and you will be remembered for helping others connect.

Don’t worry, everyone risks being too much in their heads with networking.

Just mingle away!


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