Episode 16 – Ten Tips on How to Be an Extraordinary Networker
In today’s episode, we’re going to end our 3-part networking series going over 10 tips to make you an extraordinary networker.
Find the full show notes for this episode at RecoveringCorpoholics.com/16.
Everyone knows the power of having a strong networking on one’s career. When done correctly, networking can help you gain access to opportunities and give you a competitive advantage throughout your career.
Networking isn’t about trying to charm strangers into being your best friend or just getting what you need out of certain people. Networking is about consciously building and nurturing those relationships. It’s about creating long-term relationships.
There are some people that make networking seem so easy and for others, networking is just another thing on the to-do list that feels so daunting and time consuming.
If you want to be an extraordinary networking, listen in as we discuss 10 tips that can make you stand out and have people actually want to connect with you.
Tip 1: Be Sincere aka be real with your intentions.
The first tip I can’t stress enough is to be sincere, aka, be real with your intentions.
There is nothing worse than building a strong intro with someone then to realize they had it out to sell you the entire time.
If your goal is to grow your business, say that. Even though you may turn people away, you make connections with people are actually interested in helping you.
For example, I had someone reach out to me wanting to know more about what I did and how they can enhance their career as they looked up to me and wanted to be where I was one day.
A very nice complement, right? She wasn’t asking for a job referral, which most people did at the time, she wanted to get to know me. Which is rare in the big 4 world – everyone just wants a referral.
I told her I’d be happy to have a call as I love helping people with their careers. Well, after about 10 minutes or so into the call, she started talking about products she sells and I realized that she was only trying to sell me vs genuinely get to know me.
If that happened to you, how would you feel? I know I felt so fooled. And even if she was selling me gold for half the price, I wouldn’t ever want to give her my business out of principle.
Again, as I say time and time again, you want to be thinking: how do you want the other person to feel with you. Not just initially, but the whole relationship.
Now if the person reached out to me and then stated she needs help with her career and she is working on proposals she might get involved with, after she took the time to build our relationship, I would have heard her out.
Maybe I would have even purchased something from her as I wanted to support her. But for me, as soon as she did a 180, I disengaged. Remember, trust takes time to build and seconds to break.
Tip 2: Be proud of who you are.
The second tip I have is to be real and proud of who you are. Don’t have an MBA, graduate from a top business school or have a high position? Who cares! Don’t try to hide who you are because those things don’t matter at the end of the day.
I still remember when my Director told me I’d never amount to anything because I had a bachelor’s degree from a mid-tier school. That still didn’t stop me from following my dreams. Can you imagine if it did?
Yes, most people around me went to great school and had advanced degrees. But there I was still among them all. They didn’t have my drive, my determination, my skill set. We were not all the same.
Be real and proud of who you are because it makes you, you. There are a lot of people who have those things you may want – that job or school experience, but those are a dime a dozen.
In addition, if there is a hobby that you like, even though it’s not maybe workplace professional, still be real and highlight what you like to do (if given the opportunity or add it social media) as you never know who will connect with it.
For example, you like to volunteer or watch football, add that to your profile. They are good conversation starters and people may connect with it.
No one is you. So, connect with people on who you really are and people will remember you for it.
Tip 3: Take time to build the relationship.
The third tip I have is to be patient and take time to build your relationship.
Why? Because people don’t want to feel used. They want to feel like they are giving back.
Speaking for myself, if you were reaching out to me and I didn’t know you and you asked me to refer you to my old company (as I get these requests all the time), I am most likely not going to respond or I am going to give a blanket answer.
They did not take the time to connect with me so why should I take the time to connect with them? If someone were to say they want to know more about me and my background and how I came to work there, I probably would send over my calendar link so I could help them.
After seeing their genuine interest, I may even ask if they want me to refer or talk to someone on their behalf. So, in summary, take the time when reaching out to people to actually get to know someone and take your time when making big asks.
Tip 4: Be prepared to give and expect nothing in return.
The fourth tip I have is to be prepared to give and not expect anything in return.
When building your network, I always like to follow the rule, give, give, ask. Giving helps people trust you. And if you ask successful networkers, you’ll see that they are used to giving more than receiving.
For example, think about how you can help the other person when reaching out or who can you introduce them to.
And it’s more than just giving, it’s be OK with giving and not expecting anything in return. If you want to be a successful networking, you need to be networking all the time. And not everyone is going to be able to give you what you want, and that’s OK.
But one day they will. So don’t write someone off just because they don’t give right away.
It all comes back; you just need to patient.
Tip 5: Ask powerful questions.
For the fifth tip, I want you to ask powerful questions.
No one wants to hear boring questions like, what are you working on, people want to feel like you genuinely want to get to know them.
Therefore, you want to ask questions that allow you to really get to know someone and show them you’re interested.
Such as, how did you get interested in your career? How did you decide to do xyz, What advice would you give someone starting off, what do you love most about what you do, and so forth.
Tip 6: Be interesting with the perfect Elevator Pitch.
The sixth tip I have is to have your elevator pitch nailed down.
You all know what this is. It’s a 30 second pitch that sells who you are and what you’re looking for.
You may be thinking, most of my networking events are virtual, why do I need this? But you never know when you’re going to meet someone new so it’s better to be prepared.
But I also want to take this a step further and add that I want you to have an elevator pitch that makes you stand out.
Work on this and perfect it. You’re not an IT consultant. You’re an IT Consultant who has a passion for making technological advances for future generations.
Don’t have something that makes you interesting, then go out and find it. If you don’t think your interesting, why would anyone else think you are?
Remember, you want to memorable and stand out.
Tip 7: Have a great brand.
That leads me to my next tip, to have a great brand.
When you reach out to someone, the first thing their going to do is to look you up. So, give them something to look at!
At the minimum, you should have your LinkedIn profile built up. Why? Because it shows us who you are. It also shows us that if your inactive and then go active, you’re most likely looking to make a move.
Have a brand that people remember. Clean up your social media, make a website that has some of the projects you’ve worked on, state some of your hobbies, anything that will make you stand out.
I have a friend that has a website with her resume with examples and pictures and I always remembered that. You want people to think the same about you.
Now you want to ensure your brand is clean so just make sure you strategic about what you’re putting out there.
Tip 8: Be Respectful; Don’t be annoying.
The next tip I have is to be respectful and not be annoying. What do I mean by this? You could meet someone you really want to get to know. Maybe they respond or they don’t, but you take it upon yourself to follow up and follow up.
Respect people’s boundaries. It’s like dating, sometimes you need to take a hint. If someone wants to talk to you, they will. Otherwise, you’ll seem desperate and annoying vs professional.
Now, sending a quarterly update is fine or articles or even Holiday wishes but just know when too much is too much.
I have a contact I met once in marketing who sends me an email on every holiday. At first, I wanted to unsubscribe but the messages were so creative and fun, I looked forward to them.
Now if there were all the time, I might think differently so just keep that mind when you’re reaching out.
In addition, you also need to be mindful of the limits someone is willing to go to help you. If you ask for a favor or an introduction (even when you intend to reciprocate) and the other person is hesitant or unwilling, you need to learn to be okay with that.
Not everyone is comfortable sharing their network with you and you need to be OK with hearing “no”.
Tip 9: Make others feel important.
Networking is all about making the other person feel acknowledged and heard (in my opinion). You want them to know and feel that you are genuinely interested in them. That makes someone feel good.
With that said, ask questions about the other person. Be curious. Let them talk. Talk them up. Give compliments. Make the focus of the conversation be all about them.
The more you have someone talk, the more comfortable they get with you. The more they open up and are willing to let you in. People do love talking about themselves, don’t you?
This may be harsh but no one really wants to hear about you. No one cares. That is until they feel that you care about them. So, talk them up and let them do the talking.
Tip 10: Ask for referrals.
The tenth tip I have to not be afraid to ask for referrals. Your contacts have contacts that can help you. So, ask how your network can help – that’s why it’s there!
And even if you just met someone, don’t be afraid to ask if there is anyone else you can reach out to. If they say no, just say thank you and to keep you in mind.
Think about networking as a business. If you were in sales, you would ask your clients if they had anyone they could refer you to you. Your career is your business.
Remember, When you ask for a referral, make sure you ask if you can say they referred you.
OK that was a lot of information! Networking isn’t easy at first but I promise you if you start now, it will become a habit and then just a part of life.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me! My contact information can be found at recoveringcorpoholics.com/contact and I will link it in the show notes.
With that said, lets get to networking! See you next week.
Stay inspired and live powerfully,
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