The Real Secret to Successful Networking

networking introduction

Attending conferences and going to local meet-ups is a great way to meet new people, but it isn’t a good way to get to know someone. If you really want to be successful at networking you have to follow these steps:

Put your feelers out there

Every time you attend an event, you’ll notice that there are a few networking whores in the room who hand out business cards to every single person they see. They usually get to know thousands of people, but when it is time to call in a favor or ask for help, no one steps up to the plate because they haven’t built any personal relationships.

The goal with networking is to build personal relationships and you don’t do this by being a whore. The next time you attend an event and are looking to network, here are a few things you can do:

  1. Look for the most popular groups in the room. These groups are popular because they are made up of the “it” crowd. These are the type of people you want to be associated with for obvious reasons.
  2. Once you have found the popular groups, look to see what individuals make up those groups. You don’t want to cut into a group and try to join the conversation because it will create an awkward moment. Instead you want to wait till one of those individuals leaves the group for a moment (to get food, get a drink, go to the bathroom) and start to get to know them.
  3. After you start getting to know a few people in the “it” crowd, you can then join the group they are in. This way, there won’t be an awkward moment because you’ll know a few people in the group.
  4. When the conversation starts dying down, you want to get people’s contact information. You can either do this in a casual fashion by trading phone numbers or by trading business cards.

Start following up

Within 24 hours of meeting someone in person, you want to follow up with them. If you don’t, they might forget who you are. The easiest way you can do this is by sending an email like this:

Hey John,

It was great meeting you at the Seattle 2.0 Awards. We should meet-up for lunch or drinks next week. Let me know when you are free.

By the way, I noticed that your company provides design services for small online businesses; I know a few people that could be interested in your services. Let me know if you would like an introduction.

Thanks
Neil

If you read the email above, you’ll notice that I did was two things:

  • The first was to give a few options on meeting up
  • And the second was to offer to help them out

By doing both of those things your chances of getting a person to follow up with you will be higher. If you just invite someone for lunch or drinks, they may not respond. But if you do something for them, they’ll feel obligated to respond.

Setup a meeting

Once you get someone agree to meet-up with you there are a few etiquette rules that you have to follow:

  1. Pick a meeting location that is convenient for the other party, and not just you. If you are the one who wants the meeting, why should they have to come to you? You should be the one driving to them.
  2. Don’t be late to the meeting! I don’t care if there is traffic or if you have some family issues, always be on time for a meeting you setup. And if you tend to be late to meetings, it is better to be extra early than late. If the person you are meeting happens to be late, that’s fine, you just can’t be late.
  3. When it comes time to pay the bill, you have to be the one paying. Don’t wait too long before you throw your credit card down, and if the other persons offers to pay, tell them that they can pay next time. The worst things you can do in this situation is split the bill in half or take time to throw your credit card down because it makes it seem like you don’t want to pay.

Build a personal relationship

Meetings don’t have to about work. Talking about money or business all the time gets boring. If you want to successful at networking you have to build personal relationships and not just business relationships. You can do this by talking about general topics such as sports, family, or anything you think may interest the other person.

When chit chatting, pay close attention to their body language. If you are feel the other person is getting bored, change the topic. You want to talk about stuff that you both find interesting.

Conclusion

Once you finish your first meeting you’ll notice that you are building a friendship and not just a business relationship. This is the secret with networking because if a friend asks you for something, you are more likely to do something for them compared to if a business colleague asked you for something.

And lastly, you’ll want to have many more meetings with the same person. You never build great friendships over one meeting you build friendships over years. So don’t expect your networking to pay off within a few weeks or months, it can take years before you see a ROI.

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Trackbacks

  1. links for 2009-06-29 at So It’s Come To This:
  2. The Real Secret to Successful Networking «
  3. Get your Summit On… EricSchechter.com EricSchechter.com
  4. 8 Ways to Get the Most out of Affiliate Summit East | The Internet Marketing Spot
  5. 10 Mistakes You’ll Make When Starting a Business | The Daily Blog Awards
  6. 7 Business Principles That You Have to Follow | The Daily Blog Awards

Comments

  1. Hope to see you at Seattle Tech Startups Neil. Once again, excellent post. BTW, how do you like Seattle when it is Sunny and in the 70′s . . . IMO, hard to beat. Take care, Chris

  2. Great post Neil. I know you have been telling me about going to more of these events and I am hoping I can do that. Because just by going to these events I have earned good usability consulting business. Would you also like to share some links for the audience of this blog such as meetup.com etc?

  3. I agree Neil, building a personal relationship with your business partners is really important. It’s easier to loosen up a bit. LOL, it’s just like a job interview, if you focus on “the point” too much you may break a sweat. Being uptight all the time isn’t comfortable at all so the best way is to be yourself then you will gain a future business partner, and probably a friend.

  4. Very good points and tips. Everyone should bookmark this one and sne the link to a good friend you care about!

    Serious!

    Darin

  5. These are some real solid tips.

  6. Neil, great post. My biggest takeaway from this is that you shouldn’t just hand out business cards because then you’re just another business card in the stack. Instead, select a few people and work hard to build the relationship.

  7. I find when I’m at events and there are people there who just want to get their biz card in my hand 10 seconds after meeting me have the opposite effect than they intend…I want to stay away from them, and can’t wait to end the conversation.

    However, the people that actually converse, get to know me, and build a personal connection, I want to talk to and would be much more inclined for a follow up meeting or two.

    Be real, be human, make a connection – there’s no substitute.

    Matt

  8. I definitely think that follow up (immediate follow up) is the best way to engage and connect after a networking event. Without follow up, there’s nothing. What’s more is people make promises to connect and discuss certain business items and don’t…that in my opinion, is a mistake!

    • Following up right away is the key. I have met some awesome people that I was a bit too slow on following up with. As you probably can already guess, they never followed up with me.

  9. Useful post again!
    I believe many people fail at networking as they fear of those awkward moments when joining in a new group.So I really like the point of meeting few persons individually before injecting ourselves into a total new group.

    Thanks

  10. Good stuff Neil. If there’s anyone that can write some legit advice about how to network successfully, it’s you. :). Remember, you get the big bills, and I take care of the little ones ;)

  11. Excellent advice Neil. Something I’ve learned over the years is to find out who the group behind the “it” group is. Not the folks on the stage, but the ones running the show, they’re the ones I like to meet.

  12. thanks neil.
    This has always been a weakness of mine.

    Will share on twitter. :)

  13. Always look forward to your blog posts and again another great post. I feel that so many people try to network the wrong way. I would rather someone come up and talk about sports or something other than business instead of just pitching me or selling me on something before I even know them. I really need to start networking more for my business and these tips should help.

  14. Hey Neil, you forgot a step (hoping to contribute something not to belittle):

    “Set up a meeting so they can meet other people you know”

    By introducing people to one another you at least tell them that you’re interested in providing value for them, more than what just you as an individual have to offer. You also get a chance to gauge how that person interacts with someone you know already. This can go a long way in figuring how much they ‘mesh’ with your existing network as your relationship intertwines.

    If and when you introduce people to one another more often, you become the center of the ‘referral’ network. It is more than just passing a name along, it’s almost blessing a relationship. People start to think of you as the person who not only knows people, but will put them in contact with people they want and/or need to know.

    • That’s a great idea, but you don’t want to do it right away. Take some time to get to know them before you do in person introductions. If you want to do introductions before that, email introductions can be a bit more effective.

  15. Neil, these are great tips. One other one I’ve noticed trending at conferences recently is the TweetUp. If you use Twitter and communicate there with others who are at the conference, this is a great way to meet in person and a much easier way to get involved with the “in crowd” over drinks or lunch.

  16. Great post Neil. This makes so much sense. I totally know what you mean about the “Networking Whore”. Thats so funny, I have seen a lot of those.

  17. Great Post. We all have been to conferences and been able to notice the whores. I can name three off the top of my head now, but that just wouldn’t be nice. cough “D.D.” cough.

    Very informative.

  18. Its quite insightful. Its quite interesting to note that how powerful social media is getting day by day. On the internet most people you interact are strangers, you have never met, yet the bond is so strong.

  19. Great tips Neil. Had one of those “awkward” breaking into a conversation moments the other day…(Beats being Mr No friends though).

  20. Great advice on setting up meetings. I have been going to a lot of them and you can always learn from someone. You never know where or how your network will work for you. I love networking and doing so online is also essential.

  21. mark harrison :

    Tweet ups are the most overrated fad ever. When we look back on 2009 as the year we were all taken in by Twitter, we will come to realise how fickle and transient we all are and how lacking in real substance the internet is.

  22. As always a ton of useful information; I am networking my new business like crazy and this provided me with some real insight and “insider” info! Thanks.

  23. My old business partner was a big hefty dude with a boisterous laugh that could be heard down the hallway. He would literally become the “it” person of the party and slowly travel all around it to make sure he met as many people as possible..not to mention he literally bear hugs every single person he meets.

    It was something to watch, and now I look forward to loosening up more at events and making sure to let my fun personality draw in relationships..

  24. cash loans uk :

    Great post Neil..adding on to what you say, I really hate people who give me the vibes that they are only there for ‘building personal relations’. My tip would be to avoid being too overt.. this is actually conveyed in various suggestions you mention..

    • Well you want to be genuine. If you want to build a personal relationship, that is great. If not, then you need to take a good look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself why you don’t.

  25. Another great post. I often use LinkedIn to connect my network with people I meet at networking events and to keep in touch.

    Another trick I have discovered is to connect with potential partners at these events rather than trying to pitch to end clients.

    • LinkedIn is a great tool, but it doesn’t help you keep in touch with your contacts. Only if they created some sort of feature that would solve that problem.

  26. Nice post @Neil. And really effective style of Thesis.

  27. Usefull post. The first of all is to be honest with all of your contacts i think. :)

  28. Swansonager :

    Couldn’t agree with you more about being on time. I try to live by the mantra, “Early is on time, and on time is late” – it’s definitely important for ANY appointment in general.

    Great read!

    -Swansonager

  29. It really is all about networking and how you build your contacts. Thanks for the great discussion.

  30. Remember if you are eating with the person don’t get something that can make a mess real easily like spaghetti. There is nothing worse than getting your shirt all messy in front of that person and have them think you are incompetent.

  31. Great post, you know alot about networking!

  32. Although this won’t apply to everyone, be humorous. Everyone loves to laugh. Steal a joke from something if you have to. Delivery is everything though. Keep a straight face. If you act like a joke, you’ll be taken as one. I’ve connnected with many people because they had a fun time with me.

    • Sorry for the double post but I just noticed. Am I the only one here without a website? I guess you have a good crowd here Neil. You must get bothered alot since you are in marketing.

      Tip for everyone. Use your website name or product/service in the name for free marketing.

    • Good advice. The only thing I would add is not to be funny if it isn’t natural. Don’t force it.

    • Thanks! Great advice on networking!

      It’s not what you know but who you know and your relationship with them that matters in my opinion.

      Simply giving your business card out to a bunch of people is not enough. Everyone does this because it’s easy.

  33. I think your casual approach is good. you dont want to be too “in your face” with follow ups. its always nice to have someone acknowledge you.

  34. These are very good tips I must say. I am trying to do networking my new business like an insane and this provided me with some real insight into it.Thanks. I wish everything works as I expect. Cheerzzzzz Neil.

  35. So helpful! I always feel so awkward at networking events and mixers.

    One question: I’ve had people I haven’t spoken to in a while approach me for a favor or to make a connection, and I’m always happy to help them out. I’ve been in the same boat myself, but I notice that not everyone is as open. Is there a way to feel out the waters? It’s not always easy to tell how the person will react from previous conversations, and I don’t want to come off as being presumptuous.

  36. Relationship is everything in the business world. We have to build nice relationship with clients, suppliers, retailers and even with competitors.

  37. I love networking events, but you’re absolutely right- it’s hard to develop personal connections at one large event. I also hate hearing a constant sales pitch at a business meeting- it’s the quality of the relationship and the trust in the product or service that convinces me to work with you, not your ability to repeat your product features.

  38. that’s what it is: offer an introduction if you feel you can help but don’t be shy to ask for an introdution if you need help.

  39. Very insightful, Andy, but to me you speak to a more general element of successful networking, which is that it’s in the end about establishing a sincere relationship with that other person you’re speaking with. Finding something you both find interesting, and adding value to the conversation, leaving them with more than they had before you showed up and introduced yourself, or were introduced to them.

    I think a lot of people view “networking” with the same trepidation they view public speaking with, something that’s outside their comfort zone that they have to train themselves to get good at (and which your post helps guide them towards). But when they look at it as an opportunity to give more than they take, and to set themselves up for a conversation with that same person down the road, it can seem less daunting, and I think helps them become more effective.

    For me though, it gets easier when I view this as building productive relationships . I wrote about this in a post on my blog, “Effective Networking, as easy as public speaking”

    • Interesting connection. It is absolutely crucial you build rapport and gain common interest instantly during the conversation. Public speaking is just with more people

  40. You also do an awesome job at networking events. If you and the rest of the Market Leverage crew didn’t go to them, you guys wouldn’t be as big.

  41. You’d be shocked by how many people aren’t good about following up. It’s a near costless activity that can pay huge dividends, but people claim they’re “too busy.” Shocking.

  42. I have to admit that networking has always been one of my weaknesses. Therefore I really appreciate your tips and suggestions (the importance of follow up etc.).

    • Learn the art of building rapport and networking. The easier you find it to talk to other people, the quicker you’ll make new connections and grow.

  43. I think a lot of people view “networking” with the same trepidation they view public speaking with, something that’s outside their comfort zone that they have to train themselves to get good at (and which your post helps guide them towards).

  44. I think giving benefit to the other person puts you in a more humble position and more likely to get a favorable and quick response. Thanks for putting out a template! ;)

  45. that’s what it is: offer an introduction if you feel you can help but don’t be shy to ask for an introdution if you need help.

  46. Great follow up letter you wrote there Neil! Personally, I feel like being able to network yourself in my opinion, is one of the most important skills that any person can have, if somebody has networked themselves well, things are alot easier for them, when compared to those who have not networked themselves well.

    Till then,

    Jean

    • Networking is such a powerful tool, that very few people have been able to master it. If you do, you can imagine yourself being richer than your wildest dreams.

  47. Yoga Mat Review :

    It’s true that you network personally with people, you get a better exposure. And yeah, following them up, helps even better… But, What i want to know is, if i’m a newbie to attending meetings, and I do not know much about the top groups, how do i know, which is that particular group, that i should network with?

    • Learn the art of “selling yourself”. Also, read my article on working for free to give yourself value if you haven’t done anything spectacular yet.

  48. These have been really superb tips. Everytime I come in here I learn something new. This explains why you’ve become successful, so hats off to you mate… Neworking if made as you’ve just explained can help practically anyone in many aspects, especially business-wise.

  49. Awesome, awesome advice! Thank you very much!

    I’m actually pretty new to this industry (Became an Affiliate Manager earlier this year in March), and ASE NY will be my first show! I am extremely excited! :)

    Any other tips, pointers, and suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

  50. Networking is establishing relationships with people who can help you on a personal or professional level where the relationship established will be a win-win relationship.

  51. Hi Neil

    Besides physical networking sessions, perhaps you can share on how we can leverage on social media to networking more effectively and efficiently? This would be an interesting topic considering how everyone is on Facebook or Twitter now.

    ZQ

  52. Good Idea Dude, You Article really heart touching. Can you answer me one small question. If we fail in business allays? whats wrong

    • Failing in business is normal…just prepare yourself for anything that can happen. Don’t let failure stop you because most successfull people fail no matter what.

  53. I would have to say that networking is probably one of my weaker areas in terms of offline marketing. It’s not that I can’t or won’t do, I just have to make time to get it done. I much rather prefer marketing online as I find it easier and more productive, but that’s just my personal opinion.

  54. How to make $100 a day :

    Great advice on networking!

    It’s not what you know but who you know and your relationship with them that matters in my opinion.

    Simply giving your business card out to a bunch of people is not enough. Everyone does this because it’s easy.

    If you follow up with the people that you gave your business card to you will be ahead of 90% of the pack.

    • Giving your business card to someone is just what everyone else does. It’s important to emphasize more of your ability to communicate. If you don’t have the skills, learn em!

  55. Indeed a Great follow up letter you wrote there Neil! Personally, I feel like being able to network yourself in my opinion, is one of the most important skills that any person can have, if somebody has networked themselves well, things are alot easier for them, when compared to those who have not networked themselves well.

    Cheers Guy

    • Your ability to network can take you places you can only imagine. It’s a powerful ability that people try so hard to learn, but it’s about taking action to master it.

  56. Rapidshare Search :

    It looks like networking is a good way to make money.It would propably bring small company into something bigger.Sound great anyway.

  57. I find that really interacting with one another, in the long run, you will both benefit. The success to successful networking is really getting along with everybody and creating long term friendships.

  58. Networking is a soft skill, i find just taking a genuine interest in someone is the way to go towards building relationships. It also helps if your naturally curious as I think I am.

  59. It’s never too late to read sth like this,, very helpful
    personal relationship like u said, maybe takes years to build, but always rewarding
    but u c, we can’t have that deep personal relationship with everyone, and we have to choose who we like.. u can’t and don’t want to build a personal relationship if u hate someone from guts, even that person is very essential to ur success

    • You may have met people several years ago who might just benefit you in some way now… just like how when you meet people today, might be able to help you down the line. You never know.

  60. that’s what it is: offer an introduction if you feel you can help but don’t be shy to ask for an introdution if you need help.

  61. Great post, you know alot about networking!

  62. Wow! Thanks for the post. This is great! After reading it I wanted to find a place to go and try it out. I have bookmarked it and printed it off. This way I will have it just before an event and put it all to work! Thanks again.

  63. top beauty products :

    What is successful network marketing you might ask? Really the question is how do I become successful in network marketing, right now? Everyone wants to be successful in Network Marketing, otherwise they would not be in it to begin with.

  64. as for me I notcied that people prefer staying all alone with own lonlyness :(
    that really not optimistic, they surfing searching and downloading different stuff and think it is the life :(

  65. liked this post, sometimes we forget that friendships is far more important just business relationships

  66. Thanks for the tips. Some of the stuff you covered are actually covered at USC MBA and undergrad program. Very interesting indeed.

    Like they always say, it’s not what you know – it’s who you know. I found that very true in Business.

    Kit @ Pure Costumes

  67. In business follow-ups are really important. Whether it is with customers or employees or suppliers.

  68. Very helpful tips for someone who is aspiring to be an entrepreneur like me.
    And this make me your regular reader :)
    Thank you for sharing such useful tips.

  69. chiropractor :

    Howdy would you mind letting me know which web host you’re working with? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 different web browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot quicker then most. Can you recommend a good web hosting provider at a reasonable price? Cheers, I appreciate it!

  70. I have one question- you’re saying to bring personal element into networking – to build relationship/friendship with this person; what about your personal feeling about this person, I mean in order to build friendship they should be appealing and interesting to you, right? Or is it strictly business – if they seem like they can do big things for your business you put your personal feelings aside?

  71. landline phone service providers :

    Thanks for the tips. Some of the stuff you covered are actually covered at USC MBA and undergrad program. Very interesting indeed.

  72. Rain Gear For Men :

    You may have met people several years ago who might just benefit you in some way now… just like how when you meet people today, might be able to help you down the line. You never know.

  73. Even though I am an online marketer, I’ve found business cards are a must! I didn’t think I would ever need a business card. Why would I? I work for myself! Yet I get people asking me for a business card all of the time. I’ve noticed that this is a huge key to meeting people, networking and getting contacts that would be helpful in my business.. even though I do everything online!

  74. Interesting “tactics”, your post has inspired me to immediately contact some interesting people I met on the week-end and I will definitely apply your tips at the next networking occasion.

  75. Nice write up. I think your last part about building a relationship is key.

  76. Very true, networking is not just about building business relationships but about friendships as well. I really like how you said that. Your best friends will always be your greatest allies.

  77. Wow Neil Patel very Useful post. I think building a relationship is the best key in any business.

  78. I find when I’m at events and there are people there who just want to get their biz card in my hand 10 seconds after meeting me have the opposite effect than they intend…

  79. Thanks neil yet again some great tips as per usual, i have bookmarked as i think many of my friends will find this usefull.

  80. Finding something you both find interesting, and adding value to the conversation, leaving them with more than they had before you showed up and introduced yourself, or were introduced to them.

  81. Ramūnas Bruzgys :

    Mr. Neil Patel,
    How can I build a personal relationship with you? Have you ever been in Eastern Europe? Would you like to visit Lithuania? We could have a chat about personal improvements, beautiful Lithuanian girls and taste notional beer!

    Send me an email with date, I will arrange everything what you will ask.

    So, see you soon?
    Ramūnas Bruzgys

  82. Great information for a starter like me… thanks a lot Nei

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