It’s All About Who You Know: 3 Tactics to Get an Unfair Networking Advantage.Published on August 01, 2014
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“It’s not about what you know, it’s who you know” Said everyone, ever.
And they’re right! If you’ve ever felt like you’ve worked the hardest, made all the right moves, educated yourself and more… but you just can’t get ahead… it’s because you’re missing the networking X-factor.
Ever wonder why people who you know aren’t as smart as you seem to somehow get ahead? It’s their network. Networking has been helping mediocre but well connected people succeed where they shouldn’t, for way too long.
It’s time for you to claim what’s yours. And the good news? When you’re a smart person with a good work ethic AND you add networking prowess to that mix, your career and business will take off to the stratosphere.
It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’re doing. From getting preferential treatment from management, to getting better prices from vendors, to doing deals that change your life for the better – it all happens because of networking.
Here’s how to get an unfair advantage at it:
1. People like people who are like them
The psychology of rapport and charisma is a well studied subject. The results are in and it turns out that people are intuitively biased – in a positive way – toward people who are “like them”.
What this means is that when you display the subtle non-verbal social indicators that tell someone you’re a member of their tribe, they’re going to be pre-dispositioned to connecting positively with you. Conversation will flow. Doing business will be easier.
The behavioral psychology wizards of the world teach tactics like “mirroring” people’s posture and it can be very effective. You can match their sitting position, curvature of the spine, tempo of speech and general verbal tonality. Be sure you’re subtle though, the goal is to gently mirror and send unconscious signals that you’re “like them” – not to engage in aping.
Don’t mimic, parrot or do anything obvious. If you want to see this principal in action, just pay attention to two old friends catching up in a restaurant – notice how closely their non-verbal communication (body language and voice qualities) match each other, without either party realizing it.
2. Tap into the universal conversation topics
The biggest mistake newbie networkers make is thinking that everything needs to be about business. Most people who are senior – and therefore valuable – networking targets are actually pretty sick of talking shop.
You can differentiate yourself from the masses of people who hit up important people with business questions, by engaging in something THEY care about. And you don’t need to scratch your head to find out what that is – it’s easy.
What do all successful people have in common?
The answer is: The same problems that everyone has in common – the problems money doesn’t solve.
No matter if you’re a billionaire or stacking shelves at a grocery store, your significant other and your children are going to be a huge area of your mental focus. No one has this department of life “figured out” one hundred percent, so everyone loves talking about it.
You can build rapport rapport with jaded business-celebrities at a conference by being the refreshing conversation that ISN’T about business. Ask about their kids, offer up stories of your own and build a connection that way.
Once your conversational partner feels warmth and connection towards you, you can swing the conversation back to the business you need to discuss.
3. Beyond all else: Ask for advice
One of my clients – a major figure in the Silicon Valley startup scene – has a favorite saying and philosophy: “Ask for money, get advice. Ask for advice, get money!”
Even if you’re not trying to raise capital for your business, the principal of asking high-value network targets for advice is a good one. Asking for advice tickles everyone’s ego, particularly when it’s genuine and the problem you’re seeking answers to is a good fit for that person’s expertise.
A lot of successful people are overwhelmed with praise and become jaded and apathetic towards people simply thanking them for their work. It’s sounds horrible, but when that’s all you hear again and again you can only take so much.
However, advice gives them an opportunity to put their mind to work. It’s fun and validates the idea that they are useful.
The quality of the advice-based questions that you ask will identify you as a go-getter. Then, actually following through on the advice and reporting back on the action you take will put you in a very small and elite group: People who actually take action.
Once you’re in this place, you’ll find that successful and powerful people will be more than willing to open doors for you and give you powerful assistance. They know you won’t squander that aid and that it’ll be good for them to help make an up-and-comer successful.
Asking for advice, then acting on it, proves that you are a go-getter in a world of wannabes.
Doors will open, champagne will fall from the sky and your network will carry you to a golden future of business victory.
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