5 Tips to Make Yourself a More Schmoozeable Networker

5 Tips to Make Yourself a More Schmoozeable Networker

1. Don’t always wait to network just because you have to…

Why be reactive and be that guy/girl who shows up to the latest local or national event because your client list has run dry, or because your startup is finally “starting up” in a couple of weeks and you’re under the gun? This is called being proactive and if you’ve laid the groundwork early, you’ll have people on your side who can help when a tough situation presents itself. Always keep your ear to the ground for events coming up where the attendees are people who can help you reach your goals — and who can potentially benefit from what you can offer.

2. Plan…

“Showing up” might seem like the first step to a successful outing. It’s not! You have to get yourself straight on two key things: 1) What you’re trying to achieve; what you need from other people in order to get your business or career set in the right direction., 2) How you can help other people get where they want to go. Obviously, if you have #2 then you’ll have no trouble finding people eager to benefit from your talents or Rolodex. If you only have #1, you better figure out something you can offer — ie., volunteering your time, reaching out to old friends and contacts — something.

3. Learn to hide your personal agenda — Listen more, talk less…

“Telling ain’t selling.” Whoever said that originally sure knew what they were talking about. However, this is still a lesson that most entrepreneurs and salesman have to learn the hard way — one failed attempt after another. If all you do is talk about YOUR needs, and YOUR business, and YOUR hopes and dreams, you’ll quickly find that most people “politely” gravitate away from you after five minutes or so. That’s because proper networking, and really human communication in general, involves give and take. In the case of networking, you give by listening listening what other people are saying — offering advice and/or assistance if you can. By giving in this manner, you can take later by asking for advice and favors of your own. This is how the world of business and favors work. You have to build the foundation of the relationship first by giving of yourself totally.

4. Don’t be an elitist snob…

When my grandfather died several years ago, I met a far off aunt who lived on the other side of the country from me. She lives in an area where Hollywood films a lot of movies. One thing about our conversation that stuck with me was when she was talking about all the nice, friendly stars she’d encountered over the years, except one: Sylvester Stallone. She recalled how there was a line of people who wanted to meet him and shake his hand at an social event held in his honor while he was in town filming one of the Rambo movies. Apparently he was pushing and shoving his way through the crowd like a caveman — nose stuck up in the air like nobody at the event was worth his time. While this doesn’t relate directly to business, it definitely applies to branding. My aunt has refused to spend money going to Stallone’s movies or renting/watching anything he’s done ever since. I wonder how many others from the event who were shoved around and treated like chattel that day refused to help further Stallone’s star by spending their money on his products?

5. Don’t make promises you know you won’t keep…

  • Don’t say you’ll get in touch just to be friendly.
  • Don’t say you’ll look into something for someone, or get in touch with someone on their behalf if you won’t.
  • Don’t promise an introduction with someone you know if you know you won’t.

While none of the tips mentioned in this post are really more important than the other, making promises you’ll later break is the silliest networking faux-pas you can make. It’s often made out of the need to be polite and leave the conversation on a positive note, but it only makes things worse. People respect honesty over someone who’s simply affable in the moment.

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