As much as I love connecting and networking with people, there is an undeniable feeling of impurity that can arise at networking events.
It’s the feeling that someone wants to talk to you because of who you may know, not for who you are.
There is no doubt that networking is one of the most effective ways to advance our careers. But without the personal and emotional connection, it’s hard to make a lasting impression on anyone.
Quality vs. Quantity
There are generally two types of networkers we see.
Many people we see at networking events are artificial networkers.
These are the people that go for quantity. These individuals work the room by handing out as many business cards they can before the event ends.
The second types of networkers are connection networkers. These networkers choose quality over quantity. They take their time listening and asking the right questions in their conversations. They may not reach the same number of people as artificial networkers, but that’s not what they are after.
The quality of connection formed from the segment of people they have spoken with will create a much larger impact and a longer lasting relationship.
Instead of trying to empty your deck of business cards, focus on making 3–5 quality connections by spending at least 15 minutes with each person.
Networking after the networking event
If you’re not sure how to best approach connection networking, try networking after the networking event.
You know, when the ties have loosened, and the attendees have gone from handing out business cards to handing out cheap beer.
It’s when most individuals have let their guard down, and when real and authentic conversations are open for business. I’ve personally had some of the most important and long lasting relationships formed from late night conversations after networking events.
This is because the conversation is no longer about “what do you do, and how can you help me” but it becomes more about “what is your life story, and where can we find a common ground.”
The openness for connection without being bombarded by dozens of cards is the difference between a business opportunity and being “some person” the individual met at a networking event.
In fact, avoid the typical networking small talk and try to find some commonality outside of business. This will help you become not only more memorable, but it will allow the individual to find an emotional connection with you.
This is the most important step that most people have not mastered.
It’s one thing to establish a connection upon meeting, but in order to keep the relationship going, the art of following up is crucial.
Following up through a simple “great to meet you” email is a good start.
However, to be a powerful connection networker, I recommend following up by introducing your new connection to at least one person in your current network.
This is incredibly effective because it demonstrates through action that you valued the relationship enough to follow up, that you were genuinely listening to the conversation, and that you went out of your way to create value for the individual.
Truly connecting with someone involves more than simple words of small talk exchanged following a business card trade.
Becoming a connection networker involves getting to know someone on a deeper level, and understanding how you can create value for one another professionally and personally.
Networking shouldn’t be treated as a numbers game. If you can add real value and create an emotional connection with the person you’re speaking with, you’re already on your way to becoming a powerful connector.
Author: Sean Kim writes for https://nextSociety.com.