What I’ve Learned From Networking

We have all spoken to thousands of people in our lives. How many of those people became a meaningful connection? The hard truth is that many people have no interest in helping you, at all. If you manage to find someone in the 5% (probably less) of people that do, usually successful people looking to give back or people that realize that helping someone else can only benefit them, hang on to that person and develop the relationship. It’s frustrating when people choose not to help or they decide helping isn’t worth their time. Everyone (generally speaking) starts at the bottom. If they gave that a thought before ignoring or hitting the ‘trash’ button in their email, they might choose to act differently.

Most of you have probably heard of Grant Cardone (if you haven’t look him up). He has said before that every interaction you have is a sale. You are selling yourself every single time you meet someone, talk to someone, email someone, etc. With this mentality, you force yourself to present yourself in the best way possible and think of ways in which to mutually benefit from the introduction. I strongly recommend checking out his books (see the Book Recommendations tab).

At this point, we should keep in mind the importance of the simple fact that everyone judges everyone, especially in the first interaction. People make assumptions about us and our brains automatically categorize us based on personal experiences – there’s nothing we can do to change that. What we can do, however, is control the conversation. In other words, not giving the person a reason to associate us with what they have been predisposed to, but allow how the interaction itself is going to make the final decision. The first few seconds set the tone for the entire conversation so be aware of how you come across, look, present yourself, speak – know how you appear in the eyes of the other person.

This is especially the case when you’re out networking professionally or in a professional setting (when I say professional setting, I mean job-seeking, contact leveraging, etc.). When you’re meeting new people in a more relaxed setting, you just have to come off as interesting. Make something up if you have to. Do anything so long as you don’t seem like just another person because you won’t be remembered.

I strongly recommend sending cold emails. When I got to Rutgers and started networking, every single email I sent out was cold. Cold emails/messages allowed me to go from 60 (LinkedIn) connections to 319 in a year. What choice did I really have? You literally have nothing to lose and everything to gain. When you introduce yourself in a cold email (after addressing the person), you have to associate yourself with something that’s notable and unique. If you don’t include it in the first line, make sure you point it out in the body. By associating yourself with something out of the gate, it’s easier for the person to remember you. These emails should also be less than 5 sentences.

Emailing is just like any other kind of writing: know your audience and respect their time.

At the end of the day, nobody really cares about what school you went to or where you’ve worked in the past – they want to know how you can make their lives easier. I had an investment banking interview a few weeks back and, at the end, asked the interviewer (a VP @ a well-known boutique) “What separates a great analyst from a good analyst?”. In his response of a few key traits necessary to be a “great” analyst, he said something along the lines of “. . . just being able to know that you can be given work and it will be done the right way without having to be checked for error, because when you make a mistake, that means I have to go and fix it, and I don’t want to do that.” I laughed, and so did he.

In summary, tailor every statement you make back to how you can make that person’s life easier and be aware of how you present yourself (think what you would want you to say as if you were the other person). I’m positive you’ll be ahead of everyone in the room.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. Reach out to me anytime via the Contact page or leave a comment below. I’ll also be updating the Book Recommendations tab soon.

Always be talking to people around you. You never know when the next opportunity might pop-up.

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