In response to the article I posted the other day entitled 5 Tips for Acing a Networking Event, I received several nice notes from individuals who found my suggestions helpful — and said they’d take them to heart as they continue their own networking activities, both personally and professionally.
One individual, however, went the extra mile and sent me a very thoughtful response about these issues and some additional insights he’d had about them. His observations were so good, in fact, I asked him for permission to share them via this additional article—which he granted, although he chose to remain anonymous.
So here are the thoughts he had sent in, which I’m reprinting below with gratitude. He offers excellent advice, I feel, on a subject that many people still seem to find highly elusive…
Excellent blog post – thanks for sharing! As someone who has done my fair share of networking, both professionally while employed and also during a career search, your Rule #2 and #3 particularly resonated with me.
For me, I may not be as interesting as some, but I’ve always made an effort to be well-read, well-informed, and interested in other people. One of the approaches I’ve often taken on the networking circuit is to see how I might be able to identify areas of common interests with the person or group I’m speaking with. Having been in business development a number of years, I’ve learned early on that relationships can be better cemented—i.e. people more memorable and willing to continue beyond initial contact—when there is some type of mutual identification of interests, hobbies, goals, travel interests, etc.
In fact, in a recent article I had saved recently, which you can access here, you’ll note that the author refers to this concept as Identifying a Commonality.
My approach at these mixers is to shift the discussion immediately from the inevitable questions: “So, what brings you here?” and “What do you do?” to pattern-interrupts like:
When you aren’t in a full-court press on the job search front, what do you do for fun on the weekends?
What are some area of Washington state that you still haven’t seen yet but would like to?
What is one adventure that you’ve had on your bucket list that you haven’t taken yet?
What is something new that you’ve learned recently or are currently learning or would like to learn?
Out of these initial conversations, I then like to lead into your Rule #1 items, followed by Rule #4 items.
The risk here, of course, is potentially having somewhat longer conversations with each new introduction—thus potentially being less strategic. But is it really? Personally, I would rather establish 4-5 meaningful connections with a higher level of ‘identification’ or ‘commonality’ than 8-10 “here’s my business card, let’s connect on LinkedIn” connections.
Just my musings from the networking front…