Networking doesn’t come to everyone naturally. Some people are lucky enough to be born networkers. For them, life can really be a cakewalk – they easily make friends in high places and pull strings when needed. The thing is, most of us find it a bit difficult to simply go up to anyone, pull off a smooth conversation and just gel with them oh-so-naturally. Here are three big reasons you might be networking the wrong way:
- Not finding the right people to network with
All of us already have a ‘network’ of people that we are in contact with. They might be friends, family and colleagues at work. Most of these people, however, aren’t high-value contacts. They’re not influencers or decision-makers.
The solution: Get introduced to an influencer by a mutual acquaintance. Or, use network-building mobile apps like Ohai to find the right people to network with, in your own area. Finding influential people through a common friend is indeed possible, but it will mean little if they live in another city and you can never meet face-to-face.
- When you do find the right people, you don’t approach them correctly
When we occasionally happen to stumble upon a high-value contact, like a CEO or a loftily placed government official, we may not talk to them the right way – having an awkward conversation about the weather, for instance, is a wrong approach.
Start off with a specific conversation topic that they can relate to well, that you have enough knowledge of. You don’t want to go blank two sentences in. Make sure you smile, this matters more than you think. Smiling makes a person look less nervous and more confident. Oh, and don’t steal the show. In moments of nervousness, some of us can’t stop talking. Let them talk too.
P.S. if the conversation gets awkward, follow this advice!
- You count all your online contacts as your network
Be it LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, we usually have a strong tendency to consider all our online contacts part of our network. The truth is, most of them are not. That’s because we are probably not in touch with them at a personal level – liking their posts from time to time doesn’t really count as getting yourself better acquainted with them.
The solution: If you add someone on any online network, which you should do within a few hours to avoid being forgotten, you can definitely conduct some follow up. Once every few weeks, write an interesting comment on one of their posts. Don’t do this too often, otherwise it will come across as clingy and annoying.
Bonus: In case you’re making contacts for financial reasons (for example, you need funds for your startup), don’t make this obvious from the start. No one likes a sponge.
Once you get the hang of it and begin to network efficiently, you can seriously push your career up the slope faster than ever before!
To kick-start your foray into the world of networking, get the Ohai app now.