People always ask me, “Michael how can I improve my networking skills?” In this post I will attempt to answer this question as best as I think possible, based on what I have learnt through experience, and what I have seen others do. Now for these guys to ask me this question implies that they think I have a huge network or that I know what I’m doing. That had only been apparent to me after many different people had asked me the question. To put things into perspective I decided to stop networking in 2016 and focus on writing my 11 accidental books for the next 11 months. At the birth of 2017, I decided that it was time to network again, especially in the personal development and entrepreneurial space. What was the incentive, well honestly to see what was out there in terms of talent, partnerships and deep rooted connections; to get an idea of what other people were doing so I can measure my ideas against their execution; and to validate, based on the current market and gaps in the market whether I was on the right path. I guess one factor I have forgotten to mention is self-promotion, but in a way where my ambitions and character promoted what I do. I wanted to flirt with the idea that in person I am more effective than online, a concept highlighted to me by friends and something I had not comprehended since university days.
Now that context has been set, here are the 5 power tips for effective networking:
I have always said that with a sense of direction, you will never be able to amass success. Success is defined by Jim Rohn as the progression towards one’s goals. This would assume that one would have an idea or understanding of what their goals are. If you do not then you need to be able to do the following:
- Write down a list of things that you are passionate about. This is effectively something you are interested in and want to solve, or have a skill in and want to use it to solve a problem, or have been inspired by and you want to dominate in that area or expertise. Passion comes under many different names such as obsessions, priorities, desires or deep interests.
- The next thing is writing down whether you think based on your current understanding of your passion, does it have the ability to make money for you on a regular basis? You need to be confident of this because if it doesn’t then you may have a problem. Please be reminded that unless you have the financial backing to fund dreams that are voluntary in nature, you need to follow a course that puts passion into profit. Later on, you will research how viable the model is. Remember it may already be a career that exists or may be something you have to build.
- Next, to each listed passion create 2 columns, one called importance and the other called impact. Rate how important these passions are out of 10 and rate out of 10 how much impact it will have in your life if you were to achieve it i.e. how would it make you feel
- Multiply the numbers for importance and impact per passion together to get a total number. The number that is the highest is the passion you should focus on
- Note: If you feel that this is the wrong passion, it may insinuate immediately or over time that you chose the wrong one. Chose the one that makes your heart resonate
Once you have gone through this process, begin to research the field avidly and understand who the players are in that industry, read the top 5 books, watch the top 3 videos that teach you more about this industry, and book yourself onto at least 2 courses/seminars throughout the year.
Develop objectives using SMARTER criteria to clarify what is required in order for you to achieve your passion i.e overall goal.
What you wear determines the quality of your brand. If you want a specific crowd of people to be attracted to you in some way, shape or form, you need to be able to cater and dress for that audience. This may be a pristine blue suit, with an open strong collared white shirt, or a fitted dark blue dress, with a thin 18+ ct. gold chain that has a pearl on the end, matched with pearl earrings. If your audience is more casual then maybe go for the casual look. There are many ways to get inspired as to what you should wear and here are some things you could do:
- Check your wardrobe and clear out the old, the tattered, and unused items – give them to charity or sell them at a car boot sale if they are still of use (there is a weekly car boot sale in the Battersea area – SW London)
- Decide what your top 3 – 5 clothe shops are and only shop there
- Use Pinterest (or Instagram) to save and archive photos of individuals that match what you like wearing. The main areas are as follows:
- Everyday attire
- Work/Business attire
- Dinner attire
- Be clear of your measurements for your waist, leg length, chest size etc. so you purchase clothes that fit you properly. Save this information on your phone’s notes. Not everyone gets it right either because the shops don’t tailor to their size, or they go to the wrong shops
- Be aware of your budget for spending money on clothes and what your rough range is for different items i.e. would you spend £120 on a jacket, or £50 on clean shoes?
- Learn what hairstyle and cosmetics work best for you! As a brother do you require a haircut every 2 weeks or 4 weeks? As a sister do you require light makeup or caked makeup? What is it and what has proven to be effective in your chosen industry, as well as from experience?
- Work out and have a plan to look trim and proper, using measurement and a weekly exercise plan as a guide
- Improve your diet and if need be count your calories (not obsessively, but sensibly) using apps like My fitness Pal as an example. Learn to cut out crap like:
- Refined sugars
- White flour products e.g. bread
- Excessive eating of specific food groups
Not only will you look better with this plan, but you will feel much more confident too. It is easy to see a change in the next 90 – 120 days if taken seriously, but it is reliant upon you making that change and effort.
3. Body language
Not everyone is aware of what language their body speaks. This frustrates me because what you do usually reveals an attitude of thinking that one permits. A basic thing that you need to be able to do is SMILE. Yes, smile! It’s good for you too! Just learn to have a happy face on rather than one that looks sad. Some people will say “…But Michael that’s how I am,” really…?! I know people are more inclined to look a certain way but with conscious effort, you can learn to smile more at people. Be aware of your surroundings and how people act towards you. If you smile at people follow it with a simple question “Hey, how’s it going?” I have used this so much and it goes a long way when used properly. Small talk can turn into a life-long friendship.
Think about the tone of voice you use when you speak to people, are you way too excited or too quiet? Are you assertive or are you shy? One technique is to mirror the tone of voice and words used by the individuals you are talking to. If they talk fast, talk fast (at a sensible rate). This is not me saying copy them exactly, this is me saying observe their comfort zone of conversational style and adopt a similar one in conversation with them. You’d be surprised how well this works!
What level of eye-contact are you giving people, too much or too little? Are you in their comfort zone, or not close enough? Are you too touchy feely or not intimate enough? Get your friends to observe your natural tendencies, and become conscious of what you do. I like to maintain solid eye-contact with people, as it can show seriousness if done with the right style. Note, I am not staring at people, neither am I gazing into their eyes, I’m doing it in a way that shows that I am engaged.
Hand gestures also reveal something about people, do they move their hands a lot or not? What do you do? Again become conscious of how you respond to different people. Usually, people who wave their hands a lot in conversation are naturally expressive.
4. Ask effective question
This one here is a game changer. I have always said if you want to become successful in your pursuit, ask the right questions. How do you ask the right questions if you don’t know where to start? It is a combinational thing between the knowledge you already have of that field, your aims and objectives, and also having a genuine interest in understanding another person better. Again assuming you are at a networking event this literally could be how you start a conversation:
- “Hey, how’s it going…?”
- “What brought you to this event…?”
- “That sounds really interesting, I know someone who does that too, do you enjoy it…?”
- “How long have you been doing it for…?”
- “What are your next steps after this…?”
- “Is there anything you do outside of this (“this” being work or project etc.)…?
There is so much you can get from these very basic and simple questions, and you can easily adapt, elaborate and extend them into different ones. Talk to them as if they were developing into very good friends, and when you take it from that stance it becomes so much easier. Of course be ready to answer questions too, but have an invested interest in them. When you ask good questions, you get good answers or at least something to work with. Once you are more confident from the conversation and feel like you can get more value from developing a relationship later, you are ready to ask them for their contact details. Usually, I always ask for their Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn contacts with the idea that I can get a sense of who they portray themselves to be online and potentially as a person, and secondly I can also private message them for further details if required. If I was feeling ballsy or felt like they were someone I wanted to get to know on a deeper level, I would simply ask for their number with no hesitation (there’s always slight hesitation but I wanted you to imagine it being done with confidence)
5. Active listening
This is a big one! Your ability to listen actively will take you far in life! This is easier for some more than others. If your attention span is low I would suggest that you make sure you constantly check with the person that you understand what they are saying. For example: “Just to confirm my understanding, you’re saying that…?” When you do this do it with enthusiasm and gusto, the person who is talking begins to feel like you hold great conversation, and that you’re a great person to talk to (you may not be doing that much talking). Now, you can’t just be smiling and looking into someone’s eyes pretending you are listening with no clue as to what they said, on the contrary, you shouldn’t be looking around constantly or looking at your phone. Maintain a connection via your eyes naturally, and listen to what they have to say.
That is it my friends, networking that has the right foundations works very well. Remember these 5 Power tips in your next networking sessions, and improve each area to solidify your ability to connect with people on a much deeper level. The aim is not to get contacts or hand out business cards, I would do away with that and focus on forging friendships or genuine connections with genuine interests. That becomes possible when you know what you want, look the part and most certainly act the part!
If you would like to enhance your confidence, self-esteem and ability to confidently know about options for making more money in your life, check out my free video training series here
Enjoy your day!