Monday, February 25, 2013

VC Whisperer Thought #4: Networking Is Important So Get Better At It!

Being successful in business is all about people. If you can't deal with people or connect with people, then don't go into business. Be a programmer. Be a writer. Find a job where solitude reigns and where you don't have to deal with people, and the politics and sensitivities that comes with that. After years of traveling for work, there are a number of things I've discovered when it comes to successfully meeting with new people, maintaining relationships, and then extracting something useful from those relationships.

This will be part 1 of a multi-part series on some of the best tips and tactics I've learned so that you can get the most out of your networking and relationship-building efforts.

Don't go in with an agenda.

Forget about building a relationship. Just securing a meeting with someone you've never met is virtually impossible if you go in with a very specific agenda. Unless you have something that will guaranteed make the person you're trying to meet immediately richer and with no effort. Then anyone will take your meeting. Barring that, it's far better to meet with people when you don't have anything to ask for. It's much more genuine. People feel like you're taking the time to talk to them and get to know them without wanting anything from them. It makes meetings much more relaxed and generally people will open up more.

Going in with no agenda implies that you need to plan your networking far in advance. It means you need to get to know people before you have any need for them.

Give before you get.

This one should be obvious, but there's no better way to build a relationship with someone, than by offering help first. By investing in a relationship before you ask for anything, you've created goodwill. And it's human nature to want to give back to someone who helps us. If you give before you get, when it comes time to ask for something, the other person will be far more likely (virtually guaranteed) to go out of their way for you. That's powerful.

Make sure to follow up.

This doesn't mean follow up with a summary of everything you want, and everything you asked for. This means take the time to write a thoughtful note that the other person will remember.

Being successful in business depends 100% on your ability to deal with people.