“Networking.” Depending on who you’re speaking to, you’ll likely receive a different response as to exactly what this type of interaction consists of. There are many who have mastered the art of a traditional networking event, and then there are those who feel lost in a sea of business cards and name tags.
Yet there is no denying the benefits of a healthy network — which made us wonder: is there a way that anybody can form organic relationships and avoid the transactional, inauthentic aspects of networking? As it turns out, master networker and bestselling author, Keith Ferrazzi, has the answer, and he breaks it down for us in four simple steps.
1. Research the Guests
There’s power in taking the time to prep and make yourself aware of the environment you’re stepping into. If you’re headed to a dinner party with high-power guests, for instance, ask yourself a series of straightforward questions: Who will be in attendance? What is their background? Why am I interested in talking to them?
Likewise, look into how you might you be of service to the host, the sponsor, or the gatekeeper of the event. Odds are, they’ll feel a larger inclination to point you in the right direction sometime in the future if you go out of your way to assist them now.
Be strategic and preemptive in your research, hone in on those you hope to connect with before you enter the room, and be willing to assist in any way you can.
2. Be Prepared to Be of Service
What can you, as an individual, do to make other people feel comfortable throughout the evening? Though there are many ways to be of service, it’s recommended you have five ideas on the back burner. Anything from going out of your way to alleviate another’s nerves to introducing them to another person with similar interests (based on your research of their background!). Being valuable in your services towards others increases your chance of the same happening to you.
3. Be Aggressively Vulnerable
There is nothing wrong with being nervous — as long as you don’t allow it to hinder you. Recognize if you’re feeling apprehensive in a social setting, and rather than remove yourself from the situation, simply let others know and ask to join their conversation. If there’s anything people hate more than feeling nervous, it’s feeling that nervousness come from another person.
No one likes feeling left out, and if you can find the courage to be vulnerable with others, it’s all the more likely they’ll be vulnerable with you.
4. Chill and Be Yourself
Perhaps the most crucial rule of all. All else aside, understand the significance in walking into the room being authentically you. Sharing your authenticity with others only allows the uniqueness of others to shine through.
At the end of the day, it’s a union of all four of Keith Ferrazzi’s tips that provide the tools necessary to form natural connections with others. Research and preparedness lend themselves to natural introductions. These introductions give you the opportunity to be of service to others while remaining vulnerable in your interactions.
Authenticity weaves its way through each step, and should you take the time to work on these objectives, it becomes increasingly easier to form meaningful connections in a room full of strangers.