If you want to get ahead networking is essential.
The problem is, business meetings and formal events can often be a ho-hum experience. Who wants to walk around hearing elevator pitches and collecting business cards?
If you want to connect with the right people, then you need to avoid boring them to death!
Here are seven tips that will help you think outside of the box when it comes to networking.
1. Pick a Memorable Location
Do you remember the last time someone asked you to meet for a coffee at Starbucks? Maybe you agreed, maybe you didn’t. But the offer probably didn’t seem all that exciting.
Now think about the first time you met a close friend. It was probably memorable experience. Maybe you met at a fancy cocktail party where you had an interesting conversation. Or perhaps you got caught up in an unusual situation, and suddenly realized you had something in common.
In these cases, you were in a heightened emotional state that opened you up, and allowed you to form a lasting connection. Similarly, networking in an unusual situation like an art gallery, a sports event, a hike, or even a gym, can trigger deeper conversations, and leave a lasting impression.
2. Slide Into the DMs
Sending cold emails or direct messages via social media can be intimidating, but you’d be surprised how often they get a response. The trick, of course, is getting the message right.
Before you go in cold, see if you have any mutual friends who can introduce you.
If not, a good way to find an icebreaker is to spend 10 minutes researching the person you’re trying to connect with on Google—check their social profiles, articles they’ve written, or other sites that they might use. Are they interested in sports, politics, or movies? Launch the conversation with a mutual interest. Avoid opening with emojis or generic greetings if possible.
3. Leverage Your Social Media
Our social media lives are so busy these days, we can often forget to look at who liked or shared our content. If someone has shared a post or an article you’ve written, chances are they’ll be open to connecting. And the best part is, since they’re familiar with your work, you already have something interesting to talk about!
Try pasting full article URLs into the search bar of social media sites to see who shared your content (or just search your full name). Replying to the post is great way to start a conversation, and much less intimidating than a cold direct message or email.
4. Write an Article About Someone
Is there someone in your industry whose work you admire, and who you’d love to grab a drink with?
Do they also happen to be a big shot who might be out of your league?
Here’s what to do. Come up with an idea for an article that relates to their work. It could be an interview, a profile, or a listicle with quotes from a number of people. Then, simply get in touch with them and ask if they’d be open to answering a few questions.
Most people will be flattered and jump at the chance to promote themselves and their work.
5. Give Instead of Take
As an internet marketer, I’m used to giving away valuable ideas and content for free in order to build relationships. However, not many people have learned to apply these principles to other interactions.
Instead of approaching someone with a mindset focused on what you can get out of them, think instead about what you can give. Can you help with a problem? Can you give them a copy of your book? Can you connect them with someone who will be invaluable to their career? In the competitive world of business, simple acts of selfless generosity can cut through and make a powerful statement.
6. Organize a Speaking Gig
Speaking at a conference or event is a great way to raise your profile and show off your expertise. And, of course, you’ll be a focus of attention, which maximizes your networking opportunities.
There’s no need to shoot for a TED Talk straight away. Start with local groups and clubs, and work your way up. Event organizers are always on the lookout for speakers, and if you’ve got a good reputation as a reliable and engaging performer, pretty soon the gigs will start rolling in!
7. Use the Phone
In business, email is often our go-to communication medium. There’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes our inboxes can get a little crowded. In addition, many people have assistants who manage their accounts, meaning there is another gatekeeper to consider when sending a cold email.
In these days of text-heavy communication, it can sometimes be refreshing to receive a phone call.
People are busy, so cold calling is a risk, but if you’re well prepared and are ready to offer value, then you can certainly achieve a memorable conversation, and maybe even land a face-to-face meeting.