From my perspective, not enough of that advice is built around action, trust and building real human relationships – and too much of it is about increasing numbers of friends and followers.
As an entrepreneur, numbers are of little value. Relationships matter, as do mentors, partners and champions. So I strive to build strong, trusting relationships on which we can do business together to our mutual benefit. Here’s how you can, too:
Build Value for Others
Understanding how to build value for other people first by connecting people to one another, and only then considering your needs will help you build a strong professional network. The strength of your network is not in its size but rather, in its willingness to act when called upon.
To be a successful networker or connector, you need to have an authentic and genuine manner of communicating. Patronizing others or trying to come across as something or someone you are not will never work long-term. People are naturally attracted to authenticity, which means owning our flaws as much as highlighting our wins.
Create Your Own Events
Instead of being the honey bee that flits around all the time, be the honey pot that attracts the bees. Meaning, the best advice in terms of events and venues is not to wait around to attend an event, but to create one’s own events that attract great people to them. Not sure where to start? Set up a meet-up for fellow job seekers and invite a local expert as a speaker.
Keep It Short
To simplify networking and follow-ups, use short, well-written emails intros that outline — with specificity — what each party needs. Want to ruin the chance to build a lasting relationship? Start that relationship with a 600-word introduction.
Tell a Story
A quick and authentic story about yourself that isn’t egocentric can be a very powerful way to introduce yourself memorably to a potentially important contact. But watch out, egocentricity tends to be ugly and repellent.
Make Sure You Also Show Empathy
My biggest networking faux pas was not understanding the needs and desires — however illogical I may have thought them — of the people I connected with. As much as you can, try to truly understand the people you are meeting.
For this post YouTern thanks our friends at YEC!
About the Author: Patrick Vlaskovits is a NYT bestselling author and entrepreneur. His writing has been featured in the Harvard Business Review, the WSJ and The Browser. Patrick routinely speaks at technology conferences nationally and internationally, including SXSW and The Lean Startup Conference. Aside from Superpowered, a low-latency cross-platform audio SDK for mobile, he advises multiple technology startups and serves as a mentor for 500 Startups. Patrick blogs at Vlaskovits.com and Superpowered.com.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.