3 tips on how to network like a pro

It’s a very clear fact these days that relationships really do matter. While it is easy to reject the idea and say you can become a self-made individual, very few people can succeed without some sort of support from others.

Whether you’re looking to connect with another entrepreneur or just trying to make a new friend, here are three tips on how to get more connected and network like a pro:

1. Share some value

One of the more important rules in building great relationships is sharing some value with your connections.

For example, when you talk to a guy like Carlos Miceli you’ll hardly ever end the conversation without him asking you, “What’s your biggest problem at the moment?” First, this tactic gets you to open up about what you think is really hurting you (personally) or your business from moving forward. Then after Carlos has listened to what your problem really is because you explicitly said it, he offers several possible solutions or methods to finding the right solution to your problems. In mimicking this tactic, while you might not necessarily be qualified to directly help someone solve their problem, the person you’re connecting with will be more than happy you listened and shared a few interesting ways they can approach the issue at hand so they’re no longer running into brick walls.

Another killer way to spread some goodwill is by simply introducing two great, likeminded people you know to each other. If you are absolutely certain they’ll get along and can, at the very least, have a meaningful intellectual exchange, then you’ll win points in both of their books for helping them find a new and awesome friend.

2. Never play favorites

One rule to networking (this is mostly applicable if you’re chatting with several people at once) is never investing everything into a conversation with just one person. For one, that makes you look desperate, and two, it’s a bit rude to fail to engage everyone that’s a part of the conversation as well. If you’re at a networking event, sipping a glass of wine, talking with your startup idol when two other fan boys come along, don’t ignore the newcomers. Instead, invite them in and play gracious host to the discussion. Make sure you’re a bit social with everyone, otherwise if you center your focus on one person and almost become possessive, you will come off reeking of desperation. Plus, your startup idol will certainly take note if you can successfully manage a great conversation with every participant without isolating anyone.

3. Hint first, ask later

It’s in everyone’s nature to want to help someone when it’s entirely in their capacity to do so. But when you ask someone for a favor, it comes off differently than if they had made the offer first.

For example, let’s say you’re traveling to a new city, and you’re chatting with a friend who you already know they know someone in the city you’re going to visit, you can give them the opportunity to help you without you even asking by saying, “I’m really excited for my trip next week to XYZ place. I hope I can connect with some awesome people while I’m out there too.” This suggestive way of getting help often works better than directly asking a friend for help, because if they offer help, it’s out of the kindness of their own heart, rather than because you asked for it. But of course, if your friend just doesn’t get the hint, feel free to follow up with, “By the way, do you know anyone I can meet?”

What are your best tips for networking like a pro?

Danny Wong is the co-founder of Blank Label and a Communications student at Bentley University.

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