How to network - A specific technique
A step by step guide to meeting industry leaders
There are plenty of articles out there which tell you how to network by giving you general advice on personal networking. That's fine, but I work best with a step-by-step guide to a specific technique which is based on a real insight into the way people think.
This is a technique I developed when I started working in advertising. It worked very well for me and I believe you can put it to work in whichever industry you'd like to break in to or improve your network in.
There are some basic requirements, so read on so you can put my How to network specific technique to work for you.
Basic requirements to my How to Network technique
To achieve a personal network of industry leaders you'll need some basic building blocks in place.
- Find a event with high-level industry speakers followed by an informal session. This could be drinks at the end of the day or a coffee break at a conference. Taking a course or attending a conference are obvious places to find these situations. Ensure the speakers are people you genuinely admire or seek to meet.
- Do some research. Read up on the the speaker and familiarize yourself with their work. Pay special attention to projects which are innovative or interesting but which may have escaped wide industry attention. If they have taken a risk on something, even if it didn't lead to rave reviews, and it interests you, this is an ideal area to read up on. It could be something they did years ago.
- Attend the speaking event and pay attention. Try to really listen and use what you already know about them to form a view about the talk and come up with an interesting question. Write it down so you won't forget.
- Attend the follow up social event. Approach the speaker and tell them you enjoyed their speech. This is a key moment.
Now that you have their attention
Here's where you have an opportunity. Normally this successful individual would only speak with you if you made an appointment. Now you have their full attention because they want to know what people thought of their speech. Don't mess this chance up by wandering off or talking about the weather. Do this:
- Ask your question (the one you wrote down).
- Comment about how their past project (the one you researched) interested you.
If you can, mention other people's names. Particularily one's which they themselves may admire. I don't mean name drop, as is "I know Joe Bloggs" but rather, "Your Past Project reminds me of how Joe Bloggs did XYZ". Don't pretend to know anyone you don't, just show pay them the compliment of putting them and the other person in the same league.
Mention something slightly unusual. It shouldn't be weird or make the conversation awkward but it should be memorable, truthful and relevant to your surroundings or conversation, like "Did you know this bar serves Arabic Tequila? I was talking to the barman, he said it's quite hard to find."
Why? This will help you later on. If you send the person an email you can remind them of the conversation in a friendly way (they will have spoken with dozens of people) as in:
"Hi Bob, we met at the Conference Drinks, (the bar with the Arabic Tequila). I was thinking about what you said...."
Its important to set a realistic and simple goal for your conversation.
Your aim with this technique should be for them to mention someone else. The ideal context would be, "You should talk to Jim Williams, he's an expert on that area, he works over at Acme Corp".
Now you can call Jim Williams and mention the person you spoke with. "Hi Jim, my name's [you]. I was talking to Bob Duncan the other night and he said you're the expert on...."
What have you got?
With this How to Network Specific Technique you end up with:
- A memorable conversation with someone successful enough to be a conference speaker.
- A reason to call that person (follow up questions relating to your earlier question).
- The name of someone else and a reason to call them.
What you do with these contacts is up to you but as you become known to others through this technique it will be through a process of positive feedback and implied personal recommendation. These is a great basis on which to built a genuinely strong relationship.
Please comment on this article or your own networking techniques and experiences. If you know someone trying to break into an industry, send them this link.
Thanks for reading and good luck!