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Got Networking Atrophy?

Mar 18, 2022

It’s likely been a while since any of us have been to in-person networking events and there’s a high probability our networking skills are a bit atrophied. Here are 3 exercises to get those networking muscles back in shape so you can flex into your business connections and realize a Return On Networking (RON).

Exercise #1 - Work On Your Form Using the 75% Reconnection Rule

Let’s say you’re committing to 4hrs of networking each month.  Following the 75% reconnection rule means 3 of those 4 hours should be spent reconnecting with people you already know, like and trust. If I gave you a piece of paper with three lines on it and asked you to think of 3 people you know, like and trust, who would you put down? Yes, you can put down your partner, roommate, or mom but think outside the box a bit.   Identify a few people who you’ve lost touch with but would love to reconnect with.  In fact, how about you do that right now? I’ll wait...

By spending time reconnecting, rather than building relationships from scratch, we go into conversations with more confidence and we get in the reps to make our communication flow more natural.  And, by reconnecting with people we’ve been out of touch with, we remind them of their importance to us. 

Exercise #2 - Have a Networking Plan

If you don’t have a plan, how do you know if you’ve achieved your goal? Unless you just “like” networking, don’t you want to see some sort of result from it?  ‘Hoping for the best’ is not a plan as sadly, hope does not net results. Before you go to an event or meet up with someone, take some time to understand:

  • who will be in the room

  • what do you think they’d like to walk away with

  • what do you want to achieve - great conversations, a connection to someone in an extended network or to learn more about an industry?

Creating quick connections can help you execute your plan.  A way to start a meaningful conversation is to begin with a thoughtful question. Our current go-to question is, “What’s been the best part of 2022 so far?” This starts things off on a positive note, puts the person before the profession and provides an opportunity to find commonalities to further the conversation. 

Exercise #3 - Incorporate Stories Into Your Conversation

As you start rebuilding your networking muscles, lean into the power of storytelling as a communication tool.  Since we’re all just getting back into this, it’s okay to start with super short stories. For example, if someone asks “How are you?”, answer with something like, “well it was a challenging morning since I missed my bike ride due to setting my alarm for pm, but it gave me a chance to stop off at Steam, my favorite coffee shop”.  This allows the conversation to go in numerous directions, perhaps they like biking, coffee, or live in the same part of town.   Stories, even very short ones, are the most universal way people connect.  As Patti Digh said, “The shortest distance between two people is a story.”   As your networking muscles strengthen you can get more advanced in your storytelling by starting the conversation with a personal anecdote or a story to answer the “what do you do?” question in a more memorable way.   Stories don’t need to be overly dramatic or extremely personal, and while you might not consider yourself a storyteller, we all have stories to share.

Remember those three people you wrote down?  Pick up the phone and call them, your exercises start now!    

Need an accountability partner, a coach to help you with a strategic introduction, or a networking wingperson?  Reach out, we’ve got your back. 

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