How many hundreds of thousands of words have been written about the value of networking? Go on – Google ‘How to Network’ – I know you want to. See, that is an awful big number. I don’t do maths but I know that, in official mathematical terminology, it is heaps:
Stacks of screens taken up with little gems like ‘Make sure you introduce yourself and can explain your business is 7 words ‘;
Reams of Reflex covered with quality tips, like ‘Don’t just talk about yourself’
Millions of key strokes to tell you to ‘Ask opened ended questions’.
Really? Is there nothing new or interesting to add to the conversation about how to go about networking...?
Because let’s face it. The stuff being published is, frankly, rubbish.
Do you really think that Chris Brogan, the head guy at Zappos or this guy practiced their elevator speech and rehearsed open ended questions before they entered a networking room until they got good at it?
The time has come to lift the veil on all the ludicrously fundamental Networking 101 stuff that is out there; to get to the real nitty gritty on how to go about networking; to finally expose the little known techniques of the most successful business networkers.
People are not in fact interested in your business at all.
They are interested in shoes.
So, wear fantastic shoes. The kind of shoes that will attract other shoe lovers (like tattooed pole-dancers attract Jesse James).
When those with a shoe fetish (which will be the majority of women in the room), make their way over to praise you on your shoes, be ready to grab their email address under the guise of sending them the details for the latest sale at your fave shoe shop.
Every networking group has a boor. The big gruff egotistical self-promoter who through sheer arrogance and unfounded bravado manages to get a small group of shy timid and polite folk standing around nodding in quivering unison at their ramblings about, usually, themselves (The Boor’s favourite topic).
When you spot a Boor, don’t go with your deep founded instinct to run the other way to avoid them.
Get over there. Fast.
Stand on the edge of the group – each member of which is asking themselves “Is this guy brilliant and just coming across as a wanker? Or is he in fact a wanker?". Throw a life line to the poor folk trapped in his boorish grip by catching their eyes and asking them about a totally new and riveting topic....like....shoes.
The common school of thought is to make sure you have lots of business cards....
Don’t take any. Not a one.
And for every person that you meet say: “I am so embarrassed....I have already run out of cards tonight....would you be so kind as to give me yours?”
That way you have their details to enter into your data-base. And you have left them with the impression that you have been extremely popular today. Ha.
Be up to date with Current Affairs. It is important that you can speak eloquently, fluently and informatively about the most important local and global news and affairs of state, which are:
In Melbourne - Aussie Rules and the impact of every other sport on Aussie Rules.
In Sydney - the price of property and whether the Gay Mardi Gras has managed to get funding next year.
In Adelaide - the latest reports on what the rest of Australia is thinking about Adelaide (which is, I’m sorry to say, nothing much at all)
In Perth have an opinion on the contentious issue of whether retailers should actually be allowed to open their stores so that they can....shock & awe....sell stuff.
In Canberra, be able to provide a list for the current road works being undertaken in the latest round of roundabouts.
In Brisbane, memorise the 5 day weather forecast for Queensland...and for NSW & Vic.
In Tassie, you may be able to chat about the concept of a democratic election....or not....
And in Darwin – Brands. Beer brands.
Wherever your Networking Function is being held, you must arrive armed with the names of the current MasterChef contestants OR your secret ingredients for a fail-safe Croquembouche
And our final technique. Don’t wear new underwear. Guys – you will end up adjusting. And gals, you will be squirming around trying to do the unobtrusive index finger rear flick. Not a good look.
Now that you have these new techniques I look forward to meeting up with you at a networking function (I will be the one blocking the door from the kitchen as the canapés come out), or Networking here via Comments :)