5 Networking Necessities

Cat Henderson

1. Establish a relationship first

Don’t jump into the situation asking for favors straightaway – chances are this won’t work out to your benefit. More than likely the person you’re asking has experienced this on a number of occasions and it’s frustrating for them.

Author, journalist and producer, Raymond Arroyo believes “… effective networking is done face-to-face, building a rapport with someone by looking at them in the eye, leading to a solid connection and foundational trust.”

Show genuine interest in their personal and work endeavors. Doing this will prove your intentions are sincere and in turn, create a positive starting point to build upon. Understanding the difference between a contact and a connection is key. Remember, your connections are people, not stepping stools to get to your destination.

2. Prepare talking points

Having opening questions readily available is vital. Memorize them or even write them in the notes on your phone if you must, but have them! Having these topics ready is an effective method to start conversations and it takes the anxiety away from approaching strangers. For example, if you’re at a show, ask how they heard about the band or if they’ve seen them before. If you’re at a bar, ask them their favorite drink to order. Opening with light-hearted conversation can make easing into networking-related questions much easier.

3. Practice in various settings

Every situation has networking potential! By practicing in different atmospheres you’ll learn the most effective ways to eradicate the awkwardness that often comes with talking to new people.

The next time you’re at a wedding, treat it as a networking event and give yourself an objective to introduce yourself to at least five new people by the end of the night. Set these types of goals at new events you attend in order to prepare for the real deal! Approaching people can be intimidating but figuring out how to ease the tension is important.

4. Take initiative, but don’t crash the party

Perseverance is paramount but there’s a definite line between friendly and overbearing. Eagerly inserting yourself into every conversation will only get you looks of disapproval. Your boldness might not be deemed as admirable as you hoped, so tread lightly. Also, consider the fact that no one owes you anything, especially their time. Just because you’re invited to an event brimming with opportunity doesn’t mean that opportunity is immediately yours to claim.

Exaggerated expectations will be the death of your career. Attend events with an open mind and a positive attitude. Be professional and personable but never think you are entitled to another’s investment.

5. Be mutually supportive

Go out of your way to support others’ crafts. Be kind. If that means sending a “thank you” email after connecting with them, then do so. Politeness is not overrated, nor will it ever be. If your friendliness is the reason you’re remembered, then you’re doing something right.

New York Times bestselling author of The School of Greatness, Lewis Howes stated, “One of the most powerful networking practices is to provide immediate value to a new connection. This means the moment you identify a way to help someone, take action.”

If your connection is opening for a show an hour away, then go to it. Cheer them on. Let’s say your friend is doing an acoustic set at a coffee shop, bring friends and be the first ones to show up. Support others the way you’d like to be supported.