How to Network: The Top 24 Tips to Build Networking Relationships

After 5 years we’ve now hosted 220 events connecting our awesome community of 33,000+ PNW techies. You’ve experienced our neighborhood block party vibe encouraging you to build ongoing relationships rather than look for quick transactions. You won’t attend one of our events without being asked, “What are you up to and how can I help?”

Since most events don’t have this baked in environment, here are some tips to help you get the most out of the vulnerable experience of networking. Today you’ll get the first 8 tips out of 24. Watch for the rest to come in our nest two newsletters.

  1. 90% of the work is simply showing up – It’s a cliché because it’s true. Most of the time if you’ll just bring yourself into the room and wander for a half hour the universe will somehow help you meet a good person to know.
  2. Remember that everyone in the room is there to meet new interesting people. Even though most of them are there to do business, we all love to meet new friendly people with shared interests.
  3. Have an attitude of gratitude. Just be happy about something in your life and grateful to be there. This vibe will attract people to approach you as a warm person and you’ll have less work to do approaching them.
  4. You don’t know who they know – Your chances of meeting a customer, the right new hire or the investor you’re looking for are slim. On the other hand, your chances of meeting a person who is one or two degrees away from someone that can help you a lot are very high. Which leads us to…
  5. Don’t go into the event with the goal to sell anyone anything. That’s the classic rookie mistake that gives everyone a scrunchy feeling in their stomach. (Your face cringed when you read that because you’ve been there, right?) People hate to be sold or pitched because it’s not how friendly trusting people treat each other.
  6. Go into the event with a goal to meet two quality people. You may find a new friend, workout partner, or business mentor. It’s all good as long as you’re building a relationship with a good person.
  7. Bring a wingman or wing woman – Have a buddy that you’re comfortable hanging out with come to the event with you. You’ll have more fun and be friendlier with the new people you meet.
  8. Don’t spend the evening with only one new person – This is what is most comfortable for us, but it provides the lowest payoff for your time invested in attending a networking event.
  9. Ask people you meet to introduce you to other people they know at the event – The more people you meet, the higher the odds are that you’ll find one or two who you connect with and will build a relationship with.
  10. Networking works best when it isn’t professionals acting professional, but professionals being human – Don’t act like a robot conducting a transaction. Networking events can be intimidating, overwhelming, and awkward. The solution to enjoying being in a room full of strangers is to find shared interests to connect with. Talk about snowboarding on the weekend, a movie you just saw, or the funny thing you saw on your way to work.
  11. You’re going thrift shopping – Many people you talk with won’t be a perfect alignment for you, just like meeting people in any situation. Find at least one thing to learn from them and keep on going through the aisles of options to find that special treasure of a person who’ll be the highlight of the people you’ll meet at that event.
  12. Remember that we all rolled out of the bed the same way this morning – Everyone is approachable when you see them as just another human regardless of where they work, who they know, how big their bank account is, what they’re wearing or anything else.
  13. Don’t be a douche – We’ve all been at events when ‘that guy’ jumps into the conversation telling everyone else about themselves or their company. This usually happens along with a card being thrust at you that you didn’t ask for that you’ll throw away in 5 minutes. He who comes with the intent of only helping himself loses. Why would anyone want to meet or hang out with someone who isn’t there to help others?
  14. Have a ‘give first’ attitude – It’s more fun, more fulfilling and more successful. Instead of being stressed about meeting ‘the right person’ chill out and be a cool person.
  15. Focus on how you can help the person you’re meeting. The more you give, the more you get. People love to talk about themselves and they love people who care about them. Show you care by understanding what they need and try to help any way you can.
  16. Talk about yourself only after you’re asked a question – Networking is a business to business activity so we’re all there to do business. The key is to be human first and when you’re asked about why you’re there then share that you’re looking for a job, learning more information about the evening’s topics, or hoping to find clients.
  17. Prepare – Have your elevator pitch ready or know why you’re a good fit for the job you’re looking for or why you’re passionate about the work you do. Just share it the way you would with your neighbor, not the way you would with a potential hiring manager, investor or client.
  18. Smile – Simple, but biologically people unconsciously respond positively to smiles and smile back. You can break the ice without saying a word.
  19. Listen – Approach people who are already talking, hang back a little and hear what they’re discussing. Look for what’s interesting to you about the conversation and comment thoughtfully with your own unique ideas about the topic. Listening first, and during the conversation, shows that you care about them and aren’t just there with your own agenda.
  20. Don’t interrupt – My wife has to remind me of this more times than I’d like to admit. Though I get excited and talk over people, I wish I didn’t and I try to be more aware of catching myself before that train rolls out of the station. Dudes are infamous for doing this to women, so if you’re a guy this one’s a big trip wire to watch out for. This behavior unconsciously says that what you have to say is more important than the person you’re talking with.
  21. Prepare one or two opinions on current events to share – This shows that you’re an interesting person, helps you not start off talking about yourself or your business, and can make you confident about starting a conversation. If you’re an introvert or a shy person this is a great way to start a conversation with a stranger.
  22. Bring a pen or have an app on your phone where you can write names and notes. Even you’re an engineer who never carries a card, or to be prepared when you meet one, plan out how you’ll capture the information of cool people you’ll meet. And expect to meet cool people before you arrive.
  23. Say their name – Every chance you get to say someone’s name after you meet them say it. It’s everyone’s favorite word, helps to build rapport, and helps you to remember their name. Everybody wins.
  24. Follow up – After the event shoot the people you met an email sharing why you enjoyed meeting them. If you don’t keep in touch, you can’t build a relationship and you’ll be forgotten in a few days.
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