Monday July 29, 2013
Batman wasn’t born with his superpowers; he’s a self-made man. The same goes for networking heroes. People aren’t born networkers - they hone their skills and build up their network with hard graft.
In tribute to the caped crusader, we’ve put together five pieces of advice on how to become a networking super hero - and the right power tools for the job, straight from the Batcave.
1) “They may be drinkers, Robin, but they're also human beings”
Hardly anyone goes out networking looking to buy something. Connecting with people on LinkedIn can help you form long-term relationships rather than going in for the hard sell ten seconds into a conversation with someone you’ve just met. These folks may be networking, but they’re also human beings. Once you’ve connected on LinkedIn, send people links regularly or meet them over a beer. When the time comes and they’re looking for someone in your industry or with your expertise, chances are they’ll think of you.
I feel so strongly about this I wrote a tool specifically to remind me to stay in touch with valuable connections, called fivehundredplus.com. I use it so that none of my important connections forget that I exist. It’s how we close the vast majority of our deals.
2) “People think it's an obsession. A compulsion. As if there were an irresistible impulse to act. It's never been like that. I chose this life.”
Whenever I see someone on LinkedIn with 500+ connections, I’m tempted to think: “He/she is that type of person. A natural networker.” I have news for you: No one is a natural networker. It’s a choice. These are people who have realized that growing their network of contacts is a valuable and useful way to further their career or business.
CardMunch is an iPhone app owned by LinkedIn that scans business cards and turns them into contacts. A great way to save time the day after meeting lots of new contacts. And if you don’t have a business card, get one – if only as a prompt to get other people’s cards. Moo.com does great looking business cards.
3) “Sometimes it's only madness that makes us what we are.”
Be brave. Ask people out for a beer or a coffee even if you don’t have a set agenda (which is not the same as not doing your homework). Go to networking events outside your industry and comfort zone. Serendipity happens when you chat with people outside of your normal circles. You don’t learn much by networking (or NotWorking) among colleagues.
LunchMeet is an application that can help push you out the networking door. Inspired by the book “Never eat alone” it allows you to do face to face networking over lunches with strangers whenever you’re available.
4) “I wear a mask. And that mask, it's not to hide who I am, but to create what I am.”
Put your game-face on, wear a mask. Don’t rant endlessly about your business or your latest obsession like you do at home (or like I do at home). Even if you’re not into gurus like Dale Carnegie his advice on making people like you is golden: Become genuinely interested in people. Encourage them to talk about themselves. This will also help you ascertain what industry they work in and under what circumstances they could bring you business or further your career. It will also help you make friends, and friends bring you business.
When people have told you their life story, you´ll know whether you want to connect on LinkedIn or not. And if you do, you can connect with them on the spot with the LinkedIn mobile app (http://www.linkedin.com/mobile).
5) “You called me here for this? The Bat-signal is not a beeper.”
When a peacock is showing his tail he’s sending out a signal, called “tailing”. The human version of tailing in the 21st century is updates on social media. Let people know what you’re reading, what your successes are, what client’s you’ve recently worked for. A simple status update with a link to a well-known brand can be just as powerful as a detailed case study.
One of our favorite apps for this is Buffer. You can add tons of content to your Buffer and the application takes care of sharing it throughout the day or week. Add ten posts to your Buffer on a Monday and they will be shared on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn throughout the week, making sure you sending out your signals even when you’re getting other work done.