How to Network Like a Genius

Have you ever felt like networking is cheesy and not a real career-building strategy? Do you ever feel tentative about the idea of going out there and meeting professionals who you don’t know? Are you unsure of what to say or do when you finally get up the nerve to meet these people? Yeah, me too.

Imagine if you got stoked about making new networking contacts. Imagine if you knew exactly how to interact with the very people you want to connect with. Imagine if you could network in a way that felt human and enabled the career trajectory you deserve.

No longer does this have to stay within your imagination! Using the few simple steps below you can take all of the work out of networking and become a networking genius.

Who Are You?

The first step to networking like a genius is to know exactly who you are and where you’d like your career to go There’s the inside stuff and the outside stuff. The inside stuff might sound like things such as your personality preferences, your areas of strengths, your core values, and your overarching trajectory in life. The outside stuff might sound like things such as your desired job title, your areas of interest or expertise, the industry you’re interested in, your priorities, your salary goals, your skills, and your work-life balance. Getting clear on who you are and where you’re headed makes networking a cinch.

Who Are They?

Okay, now that you’ve gained some clarity about you, let’s talk about them - those seemingly intimidating, aloof, or unreachable people. Again, you’ll want to ask yourself some key questions. Who are the people that I want to be like? What is it about them that attracts me to them? Who are the people that I want to partner with to grow my career? Based on the person’s LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and their website, what are the things that are seemingly most important to them? How do these items align with the things that I value most? Answering these questions will help you to know who the people or businesses are that you want to connect with.

Where Do They Meet?

You’re clear on you, and clear on them. Now get clear on where. Specifically, where do the people you want to meet congregate?  You’re looking for opportunities that leverage your time and connect you with the greatest amount of people. Quantity isn’t everything though, so be sure to take into consideration the quality of the connection that you make into your formula for success. For example, a lot of the people you want to be like are on LinkedIn, so you join some groups that they are apart of. Compare that opportunity to a live networking event where you can connect in person with someone you want to be like and spend a fair amount of time asking them questions. Which would you choose? Probably the latter one.

What Can You Give?

While part of the answer to this question is wrapped up in who you are, who they are, and where the people you’re wanting to network with meet, the big idea here is that you want to be a giver versus a taker. In other words, you get to brainstorm ways things that you can give that are value to the people you want to network with. Think about - what if someone gave you something that enabled you to get a pay raise at your job. Wouldn’t your estimation of that person go up? Wouldn’t you see that person as more valuable? Wouldn’t you be more inclined to hire that person in the event that they were looking for work? Some things that you can give are: your time and attention, an insightful article you read, a book you read, or a thank you note. It doesn’t have to be big, just give.

Keep It Up!

Now that you’ve learned some ways to network like a genius, keep it up. In business, the adage is “cash is king”; in networking, consistency is king. Make a plan. Do the plan. Review and adjust the plan. Do the plan. Generally, if you want someone to do business with you, you have to get your message to them anywhere from 7 - 12 times. In today’s fast-paced work environment, it may take several different channels of networking - Job Fairs, Conventions, F2F, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Blog, etc. As Bruce Springsteen says, “Getting an audience is hard. Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time.” Network consistently.

What’s Your Play?

No longer will you ever again walk into a networking event bored or scared spitless, because now you know how to network like a genius. Your confidence will draw others to you! Who are the people on your networking “short-list”? Where do they meet? What are some things of valuable that you can give them? What’s your next move?