Last week I accidentally discovered a great new networking trick. I was attending a lecture on Entrepreneurship in Norway. I walked into the auditorium where there were 100-150 chairs setup. I was early, so I went to the front of the room and sat in the chair that was nearest the podium in the first row where there happened to be an electric plug for my Mac. As each of the speakers, the experts and the VIPs arrived – those that were scheduled to speak – one after the other they came and introduced themselves to me. Since I was sitting close to the podium and since I had on a suit they all just assumed that I was someone very important or one of the other expert speakers. I shook their hands, we exchanged cards and I proceeded to ask them lots of questions concerning what they were going to speak about. I had a great time. They had a great time (because they got to talk about themselves) and I came home with a handful of the best business cards I had collected in a long time. Some of them are still probably asking themselves “who was that guy really?”
Keith Ferrazzi, the author of Never Eat Alone, says that Networking is one of the most important keys to success in a startup business. It will help you find jobs, recruit talent, win new customers and discover investors who’ll support your ideas. My experience is that being a great networker may not be absolutely essential, but it certainly makes things a lot easier and more fun.
According to Ferrazzi, successful networking is all about building close, sincere relationships based on mutual generosity. He says that entrepreneurs cannot achieve their career goals on their own. They have to network their way to success.
Many years ago I was co-founder of a software company and one of the other founders was a genius. A real genius. I mean the serious, lifetime member of MENSA, IQ-of-186 type genius. He was so brilliant that he was often challenged in other more normal social settings. This was good for me to understand. I am nowhere near what would be called genius, but OK, I have other talents. We worked well together as a team because we complimented each other. In today’s business world, you will need other people to help you to succeed and to provide the diversity necessary to solve complicated problems and challenges. Few successful entrepreneurs succeed by flying solo.
Dale Carnegie literally wrote the book on networking in 1936. How to Win Friends and Influence People demystified the process of making friends out of strangers and inspired legions of business coaches to carry on Carnegie’s message. His methods were so simple, yet so fundamentally useful. Here is what he recommended:
1. Smile – Simple huh? While this is easy enough, when I attended a networking event last week and I looked around the room to see how many people were actually smiling. I was shocked to see so many sour faces…lots of people frowning and staring down at their own shoes.
2. Ask Questions – Most people spend all their networking time talking about themselves. They drone on forever. Networking is about asking questions and being truly curious about the other person. If you take the time to ask, you will be surprised how fascinating, interesting and fun even the most boring person can be.
3. Listen – It is not enough to just ask questions. You have to stop to listen. I mean really listen. Listen to what they are saying. Listen to what they are not saying. Listen with your ears, your eyes and your gut feeling. Give generously of your time and attention. Nothing is more highly valued in our society today.
Want to turn-around your business and achieve results in record time? Contact me to discuss Executive Coaching, Group Facilitation and Management for Hire services for technology companies. You can learn more at www.ricksalmon.com , www.xelerator.com and at www.e-unlimited.com.
Rick Salmon is an energetic entrepreneur who lives in Norway and believes that European startup companies can succeed and grow quickly if only they get the proper help and assistance. Please join the discussion and leave your comments. Subscribe to this newsletter/blog to receive frequent updates and tips.