The first rule of networking is you don’t do networking.
The second rule is that people don’t like to be networked.
What you do is to meet people. Big difference.
There’s a disease in the word networking and everything around it is BS. Somehow, some people think that when they go to a “networking event” and shake somebody’s hand, that gives them a coupon to cash out in the future when they need something. Well, it doesn’t work like that.
People do business with people they like — nobody wants to do business with jerks.
How to boost your network.
First step, know exactly who you want to meet with. Define the kind of people you want to meet and contact them. And here’s where you need a bridge.
The best thing you can do contact the people you want to meet, is to find someone who can introduce — that’s your bridge. Find someone you have in common and ask that person for an introduction. Be specific, tell your “bridge” exactly why you want to meet that person and what you want to know.
Once you end up the conversation ask if they know someone on the X topic, and ask them if he or she can introduce you. You can even take out your phone and start writing an email if it feels okay. (If you’re an entrepreneur this is a must do.)
How to introduce yourself to a stranger like a pro.
If you don’t happen to have a friend in common, there are other ways you can contact them… Just contact them. You’d be surprised how many people you can meet this way!
This is how my cold-emails look like:
I’m gonna change the world and I would like to meet with you to ask you a couple of questions for 15 minutes.
You’re an expert on [x], and I need to learn [y]… I can talk really fast, and you can kick me out of your office as soon as you want if you think I’m wasting your time.
Can we meet 15 minutes [next week]?
This way, you show you’re serious, precise (you’re telling them exactly what you want to learn from them) and you give them an out.
What happens if you don’t get a response? Keep trying, don’t stop. Some people are just so busy they won’t see your email the first time, or they might ignore you until you show them you’re serious. Once I’ve gotten as far as 10 times, and I got the meeting… you never know!
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to build a big network and keep in touch with people. In the end that will make a big difference in your career.
Do this and meet two or three new people every week. They can be from all over the world, you can use Skype or phone calls. Thus, in a year from now you’ll be in great shape. Though, you’ll also need to know how to keep in touch with hundreds of people.