The Four Networking Secrets Nobody Ever Taught You
Networking has come to be somewhat of a controversial topic in the professional world. While some professionals and aspiring business-people find networking energizing and exciting, others still shudder at the name.
Regardless of your opinion of the topic, it’s uncontroversially true that networking is necessary to succeed in the growing business world. Experts say that as many as 85% of new jobs are obtained through networking. Whether you like it or not, you should pick up on a few tactics to better your networking and optimize your career prospects.
Networking doesn’t have to be the horrible chore that you might make it out to be. You don’t need a well organized Excel document of the 200 most powerful people that ever gave you a business card. Instead, I’d like to offer you four quick, albeit somewhat unconventional, tricks to build your social chops for the next time you want to network yourself and become a memorable character.
1) Stand Up Straight
And I mean actually straight. People always remind us to have good posture, but we usually wind up doing one of two things: only getting halfway there or puffing our chest out like an insecure baboon.
Keeping good posture is about elongating your spine. Take a quick break from this article to give this a shot, so if you’re able, stand up and put two fingers at the point where your ears connect to your head. Got it? That’s where your skull sits on top of your spine. Now take two fingers and touch your sacrum, or your tailbone. This should be roughly the base of your spine.
Now imagine those two points, at the very top and bottom of your spine, are pulling against each other. Simultaneously stretch your sacrum to the ground and top of your spine high into the air. You should feel taller, like your core is a little engaged, and like your ribs are lifted but not puffed out. This is what good posture feels like, and if you introduce yourself to someone like this, it doesn’t matter if you’re 5’2”, you’ll look like the tallest person in the room.
2) Know How to Say Your Name
Chances are you’ve been saying it wrong your whole life. Not that you’ve been mispronouncing it, but you’ve been accenting it in a way that is completely and utterly forgettable.
If you want people to remember your name, you add two things: rise and fall, and a little pause. I’ll take you through it. Say your whole name like you usually would. Now say it again, but this time climb in pitch so that the end of your first name is accented, almost the way you would recite a question. Pause for a brief moment, then while you say your last name, descend. Take my name, for example:
jonaTHAN -- WOLFgram
Repeat your name to yourself this way until it sounds natural. Feel the rhythm of it, almost like a song. I won’t go into the neuroscience at play here, but using this kind of an arc in your intonation is guaranteed to help others remember you with ease.
3) And How to Remember Theirs
So you can say your name confidently—you should be able to remember the names of others too! The key here is repetition. Whenever I have a conversation with a person I just met, I make a personal goal of using their name a minimum of three times. If I don’t reach that, there’s no way I’ll remember who they are.
Luckily, this is somewhat of a double-whammy. The truth is, people love to hear their name. Dale Carnegie once said, “A person's name is to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” It may feel awkward at first, but using someone’s name is not only a great way to remember it, but it helps them enjoy the conversation and puts you on the fast-track to obtaining their trust.
4) Spill the Beans
And on the topic of obtaining trust, we ought to remember the primary purpose of networking. We’re not here to hand out business cards and laugh at unfunny jokes; we’re here to build relationships. And building relationships, at its core, is about gaining trust.
The easiest way to do that is to play their emotions by showing your human side. Allow them to empathize with you as a person, and they’re more likely to trust you and connect with you again in the future. Don’t complain or spill your life story, but it’s important to open up enough to let them see the human behind the drone in a monkey suit. Example:
“Hi, how are you doing?”
“I’m doing great! Except I have a high school reunion next weekend, and honestly, I’m a little nervous.”
These kinds of conversations allow you to connect with people on a personal level and build genuine and authentic relationships. That foundation will strengthen your network much more than a fancy business card or a coordinated email plan. Ultimately, this game is about building relationships, and if you can strike people as respectable but also genuine by keeping posture, using names effectively, and showing some of who you are, you’ll have no trouble building an honest Rolodex.