Success in business depends on a robust network of connections. We spoke with businessman and “Shark Tank” investor Daymond John for his insights on effective networking.
Networking is a term that has increased in use over the past decade. How do you define it?
I define networking as connecting and interacting with people to expand and strengthen my own rolodex. It can’t be just about meeting people; it has to be more than that. It needs to be seen as an opportunity to meet ambassadors of industry and different types of jobs where you can build deeper relationships with those people to grow your contacts and access to various ecosystems.
What are your top three networking tips to share with business professionals?
1. Identify where you should network: I know a number of people that get some sort of analysis paralysis and they don’t know where to start. Or worse – they solely go to the events that their companies recommend. I like to tell people that they should research conferences, trade shows, meetups, or whatever else that really interests them and make a plan to go to them.
2. Build genuine personal connections: Don’t forget the reason you’re at these events is so you can meet people. Don’t overly talk about yourself, firstly because other people will get tired of it, and secondly so you can learn more about what people do. Stand out by having a real conversation with people rather than seeing how many business cards you can collect. Quality over quantity.
3. Learn how you can provide value to each new connection: Remember that other people attend these events to get something. Do your best to find out what that might be, or even better yet, just ask, “So what are you looking to get out of this event?” If you have a way you can easily help them, act on it. You’re starting off the relationship where you’ve been an asset to the other member, which definitely helps, and I’ve always found that the universe finds a way to pay you back for that goodwill.
What should attendees get of a networking opportunity or corporate event?
Attendees should get a better sense of people – what they do and why they do it. See their approach and look to see how they balance the process versus the result. Then take personal inventory of the problems they might be confronting and how you think you would solve them.
After a networking event, what are some of the best practices for following up with new acquaintances?
It may sound obvious, but following up is crucial. You’d be surprised how many people go to a conference, trade show, or other event and don’t follow up with everyone they met. Hopefully you made a genuine connection with that person – so re-mention that similarity you have or reference that joke you both mentioned.
What are some opportunities that business professionals should consider to make networking during their event more interactive?
The biggest opportunity is being prepared. Be prepared to give your own “personal elevator pitch” to tee up the conversation. Be prepared by knowing the type of attendees and maybe even knowing you want to meet certain people.
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