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Networking

Recently, entrepreneur and bestselling author of Shark Tank: Jump Start Your Business, Michael Parrish DuDell, hosted a wonderful webinar with helpful tips on jumpstarting and maintaining your networking platform. DuDell, also an international keynote speaker, has definitely experienced his fair share of networking situations and is extremely knowledgable in the area. Below are some notes taken from his webinar "Beyond Networking" - there may be some tidbits you can take away to enhance your own networking skills!

A network is never passive. It can either move you forward, hold you back or keep you fixed in one place. It is up to you to decide which kind of community you'll build.

 Michael Parish DuDell

"Schmoozing"

Good networking is first about building relationships - real human relationships. And trust is always KEY. The four objectives to remember when you begin building relationships are as followed:

  • VALUE - You have to figure out how to use to your own knowledge, resources and skills to add value for for someone else - it's not just about you getting what you need.
  • CREDIBILITY - Always be honest about what you have to offer - if you aren't honest on the front end, the relationship you are attempting to build isn't going anywhere fast. 
  • GENEROSITY - Try to find an appropriate way to reach out to people that makes you feel comfortable, while still respecting the boundaries of others. 
  • RELIABILITY - Be dependable and authentic in your conversations with new people and always deliver on any promises you make. 

Developing Better Offline Connections

Making Online Matter

According to DuDell, there are several things you should think about as you prepare for and while you are attending a networking event. 

  • Do Your Research - Search the list of people that will be attending the event and pick out three or four people that seem interesting to you. Instead of trying to meet everyone in the room, focus on getting to know those few people you picked out, thus creating a target market.
  • Establish Common Ground - Say just a few sentences about yourself to get the conversation started, but don't rattle on only about your own achievements. People will lose interest quickly if you give off the vibe that you are the only person in the group that matters. 
  • Identify Primary Pain Points - Ask questions of the people you are chatting with that spark a conversation, such as "What projects are you working on?" 
  • Connect The Dots - Help to connect people, even if it's not completely to your benefit. People will remember how you helped them and may someday return the favor in a big way. 
  • Follow Up On Promises - If you make a promise in a conversation, make sure you follow through with that promise. If the simplest of tasks not followed through will be remembered.

While face-to-face conversations are vital for successfully networking, we cannot forget about how important it is to connect online as well. DuDell identifies several ways to making online networking truly mean something:

  • Identify 10 Target Connections - Just focus on those connections, instead of trying to cover a wide networking area.
  • Share Relevant Content - Only send out information that is valuable to the potential "connectee", otherwise, your message will become quickly lost or ignored.
  • Make An Offer - Send an article or book you wrote or a speech you gave to the potential connection because you truly believe it is something they could use or would be interested in. You may not get anything in return, but you will most likely earn the sendee's respect and attention by showing that you admire his or her work.
  • Transition Off Social Platform - If you begin your networking with a connection through social media, try to then transition to email. Across the corporate world, it is definitely understood that people take emails more seriously than they do social media outreach. 
  • Connect Offline - Once you've connect through social media or email and you feel you have a strong connection, it may now be the right time to transition offline. Most of the time meeting for coffee, lunch, etc. will fall through, but every so often you'll land a wonderful networking connection this way. 
 

networkingDuDell explains that you want to build a brand and connections that last for a significant time, not just a couple of hours. How you manage networking is all based on personal preference and capacity. Just take what you know and believe in and see where the journey leads you.