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7 tips to up your networking game

(Thomas M. Barwick INC/Getty Images)
(Thomas M. Barwick INC/Getty Images)
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Even the smartest business leaders can’t run a business all by themselves. So the smartest business leaders are the ones who find the best people and make excellent use of their talents.

The first step to achieving this is to know yourself, and have a keen sense of what you can do well that is valuable for starting and growing a business. At the same time, it is critical for you to know what essential business skills you lack and must add to your team.

How do you find such people? You must be great at networking. One very well-connected investor, Chris Fralic, has seven rules for making memorable connections. What follows is a quick description of each one and why I think they work.

1. Convey genuine appreciation.

(Thomas M. Barwick INC/Getty Images)
(Thomas M. Barwick INC/Getty Images)

People don’t care what you know until they know that you care. To show people that you care, share your sincere enthusiasm for something specific about them.

To do that, you should do research about people before you meet them and find something you respect and admire in what they’ve accomplished. If you can, let them know how much you appreciate that when you begin your meeting. And remind them of it before the first conversation ends.

In that way, you will make them feel that you like them, and that increases the chances that they will feel the same about you.

2. Listen with intent.

(Alistair Berg/Getty Images)
(Alistair Berg/Getty Images)

When you meet someone new, you should tell them near the beginning of the conversation what questions you’d like to discuss and ask them to share their discussion topics with you.

To demonstrate your sincerity, listen closely to their answers. If there is one thing I have learned, it’s that I am only learning if my mouth is shut and my ears are tuned in to what someone else is saying.

When someone is answering your question, think carefully about whether they are answering it clearly or whether their answer makes you think of another question. When the time is right, ask your new question.

This will give you the information you need and make the other person feel that you listened carefully.

3. Be appropriately humble.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Humility is a very valuable trait in networking. If you convey the idea that you are the world’s greatest person, most people will sprint away from you at maximum speed.

If you’re too self-deprecating, people will suspect you of humble-bragging — or they will start to think that there is nothing of value that you can offer them.

The right level of humility is to focus on where your strengths intersect with the other person’s experience or needs. If you focus on building that connective bridge, you can solidify the basis on which to have further conversations.

4. Offer unvarnished honesty.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

I am a terrible liar, and I have a strong urge to keep as far away as I can from those who are good at it. To that end, I respond to questions honestly, with a willingness to disclose truths that highlight my weaknesses and my strengths.

To be sure, I am inclined to avoid sharing a complete negative assessment of another person. However, I would be careful to avoid giving an unrealistically rosy assessment of someone I did not trust.

If you’re honest, you will build trust. If you remain honest, your relationship with the other person will be much more effective.

5. Brainstorm from a new angle.

(Hiroshi Watanabe/Getty Images)
(Hiroshi Watanabe/Getty Images)

You can’t always be the solution to the problem that the other person is looking for you to solve in a networking meeting. But you can help them by sharing your perspective on how you would approach their problem.

One insightful or different approach to their problem could be very helpful.

6. End every conversation with optimism.

(Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images)
(Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images)

When you meet someone, always assume that you will meet them again — and behave optimistically so they are more likely to be happy to talk with you should you meet again.

Over the weekend, I contacted a company, and the person who responded to me was someone I had not seen in a decade. I am happy to say that he welcomed my email because he enjoyed working with me in 2011.

7. Don’t fake it till you make it.

(Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images)
(Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images)

This is a corollary to point No. 4 — you can’t be fake at first and honest later. Life is too short for lying to yourself or other people.

Follow these seven rules and you’ll become a better networker — and get closer to your goals.

(c) 2021 Mansueto Ventures LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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