In the beginning of his Tedx Talk, Christopher Barrat says, “Networking is probably the most important commercial skill for the future, and you can learn it.” There is no surprise that I fully agree with him. If you’re looking for some networking help and inspiration, I highly recommend watching his video called Successful Networking – the ultimate guide.
I am with him 100 per cent. Especially about being able to learn the skill. Often we fear something like networking because we have no idea how to do it. If we had a process, a strategy, or a lot of practice, we might relax and enjoy it. This is how I now approach networking and meeting with people. This is after understanding some of the key principles Christopher discusses in this video.
The main thrust of his networking strategy is based on the following four words:
If you understand and practice these steps, networking will work for you. It is important, he says, not to skip or jump any of the steps.
The great thing about networking is that it is fundamentally about the first two things. I want to know you, and I want to like you. (Christopher Barrat)
First, know. Let’s say you walk up to someone at a networking event, where you came alone. Let’s imagine there was a presentation, where everyone stood and listened, and then a short 20-minute coffee break. You see someone else standing alone, so you approach them and introduce yourself.
What do you talk about? You need to get to know them. How do you do that? By asking them questions. Find out who this person is, and make it your mission. I try to put off talking about myself as long as possible. Heck, I already know myself well, and I didn’t come to this event to sell myself to other people (because that is step 4, and we are only on step 1). Listen well, and then you will begin to know.
Be interested before being interesting. (Christopher Barrat)
This sentiment is spot on. Get the other person to talk; be fascinated by them. Ask as many questions about them as you can, and remember what they said. Even if you only talk to that one person during the entire event, and you got to know them, you have succeeded!
In the video, Christopher discusses some strategies for how to approach the networking room itself. There will usually be three types of groups of people: groups of three, two, or singles. He explains how to read the groups and which ones to approach. You will begin to see these rooms differently. Skip to 6:15 in the video to see this explanation.
I’ll leave you with a longer excerpt from his Talk, below. How does his advice resonate with you after watching the video? I’d love to know in the comments below.
Networking is about giving. How can I help you? Who can I put you in contact with? What sort of contacts are you after? That’s the skill. If I do that, if I give to you, the universe has a way of paying you back, every time. It might not be instant. Over time, if you do the right things, you will be rewarded. Remember: know, like, trust, buy. (Christopher Barrat)