If you and I would have one dollar and share it with each other, we’d have one dollar each. If we have an idea each other and share it — we have two ideas each. Sounds like the TLDR version of this post, but it isn’t just that. But you knew that already, right?
We have to admit we live in a world that keeps evolving technologically faster than ever. And sometimes the question of what’s scarier pops up in your mind. The fact that every two minutes, people take more pictures than the whole humanity since the Daguerre era in the 1800s? Or Mark Zuckerberg’s picture at the Mobile World Congress? I say none, because…
As long as people communicate and take pleasure from it — there is no way technology will take over the human interaction.
This post was intended to give some tips and tricks about approaching people and “networking” but rather I would go on and talk about some important parts of how I see networking in the digital world.
I am a rule breaker.
You’re a rule breaker.
[Tweet “Let’s learn the rules, BREAK them and get to do genuine networking.”]
1. Forget networking. Make friends.
You mean you go to events to meet people, pitch your business idea, ask them to share their know-how with you, apply it yourself, keep in touch, maybe go for a coffee and talk more… and you still call it networking?
Be it business or personal — it is your time and it is personal, because you are human. And before any type of business or know-how exchange , you give that person your time and vice-versa. You know how this is called? Making human interaction, making friends. You make friends. Stop building a fence between your personal time and business time, networking or marking friends.
[Tweet “It’s the passion fire you remember, not the business card”]
2. Expand your horizon — be interested in everything around you
We already set on the fact that people make friends, in business especially. So, you wouldn’t talk only about your struggles in lead marketing, or how your banners have a low CTR, or how you haven’t yet found the balance between your brand and your banner ad strategy — that would be quite a general discussion, right?
So, how do you break a conversation and make it friendlier? You share small things and ideas on topics that you would generally not pay attention.
Some of us would say they have little drive for small talk, but at the end of the day sharing off-business ideas is what makes us human and open to the person in front of us. Not a big general culture and hobby person — try detaching from your job sometimes and look around you. What interests you — coffee, gardening, rural traveling, ending world hunger, history of Maya?
Anything you do with passion makes you more interesting. And you can find the similar interests with someone in the least expected places.
[Tweet “Only death and taxes are a sure thing, experiment in networking!”]
3. Add Value
Talk about yourself and what you’re passionate about. Then listen to what the other person is interested in. This way you form a natural bond of the subjects both of you put tears, sweat and passion into, which easily can transform the relationship between you two.
Approach people with an open heart and tell them about your strengths, so that you learn how can you help them with it. Have in mind “go with the flow” rather than “I want this and this from that person”. Giving is the key word because when people are given something true and genuine, they return back the favour. This return is natural, instinctual and with a friendlier approach than just for “networks”.
[Tweet “Two ideas VS. 1 dollar. What’s your pick in networking?”]
4. Give Value
I lived in five different countries during a three-year period, went to international conferences, forums, workshops where I have met A LOT of people from different cultural, language and professional backgrounds. This broad range of relationships made me interested in getting to know the person in front of me, sensitive to their cultural background and optimistic about how can we get along. It taught me to listen and to know how can I be helpful.
With time, I had mentors until I understood that as little as I thought I could, I was a mentor myself sometimes. So, I learnt to help out those who are still in college with job opportunities, advice on how to get a job or where to look for one. With artistic people I’ve learnt to speak about the beauty of their art and how can they market better their skills and how can I help.
But more than anything, I am embracing the one magical question: how can I help you with?
I’ve put my skills on the market, with a pro bono approach: “here is my altruistic part and I am ready to share the knowledge with you”.
[Tweet “Idea sharing is a game for two winners.”]
5. Be genuine and treat people as your equals no matter their status
I’m going to tell you a short story where this “rule” started. At a festival, I volunteered as an Artist Angel, where I’ve met quite some worldwide know stars. Some of them are Gods to me, and so it happened that I was taking care of the crew of my favourite band. Before going to the airport I was freaking out — how am I going to talk to them, how to behave, what to say? More like going crazy.
But the moment I have met them, guess what? I was absolutely myself, making jokes, being genuine, treating them equally like some old friends I know.
What happened taught me the best lesson of my life: they were so surprised and happy there was no star/normal persona barrier that we became good friends. For them normal is the abnormal and they appreciated my normality by paying back with a genuine friendship.
[Tweet “Put yourself in other’s shoes – it builds healthy genuine relationships.”]
6. Know your space VS. Get out of your comfort zone
I am both an introvert and extrovert. There are moments I’d rather hid with a coffee in a corner, have my earphones on and work on my stuff. Other times, I can be the spirit of the party so easily I can barely explain it to myself. Actually, the both extremes I cannot explain, but it feels good. It feels good to have a balance — to be both sociable and able to have me-time. An I can just assume, everybody craves that.
So, I give time and space. It is the one thing I appreciate the most — when people have a sense of where they should intervene and where not. And I respect that in others, as well. It is knowing the limits and knowing where to go on talking and where not.
But also getting out of your comfort zone is a big leap — challenging your ideas, stereotypes, misconceptions or default cultural understandings is where you can find alternatives for your personal and professional life. Going to a room of unknown people and saying: “Hey, guys, I’m this and I do that and good to know you” takes a lot of courage, but also appreciation.
Be aware of how you approach people.
[Tweet “Networking is time, quality and respect for others.”]
I am a marketer, which means I am constantly searching for the Golden Rule of Creative versus Analytics approach in my work. So, as much as I like staying cozy in the number’s world, by nature, I am a human person and I like meeting people.
Networking, eventually, brings you to make lasting friendships and start new professional paths and lives.
My example: In 2014, I was at a Digital Marketing event and there was a speaker whom I approached after to ask some advice on a campaign I was running. Some time passed and he remembered my passion for that topic and how I wanted to “change the world”. One year later, he’s my boss, friend and mentor.
But you don’t want to know how nervous I was at approaching and talking to people. It takes time, because networking is a “first-time” every time you do it.
It takes years to balance the introvert and extrovert, and there are still moments you hit the wrong word, moment or place. One thing that does not work, could work differently — so test and experiment as much as you feel genuine and safe. We’re learning, aren’t we?
So, tell me the one moment when networking changed the course of your life?