The real way of Networking

Networking as Google defines it, is to —

Interact with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.

Networking positions you in a web of reliable people. You can use this web to find new job opportunities, create new partnerships or get special access to products or services. In other words, the whole art of Networking is valuable beyond measure.

Despite the obvious advantages that Networking provides, we tend to have a casual approach to it. I have experienced it first hand!

In a recent conference, I approached a FinTech influencer and began by saying —

Hi! I’m Abhishek, a software engineer at PayPal. Your article on the far reaching consequences of Blockchain is truly inspiring. I would like to interview you for a Medium post. Would you be willing to work with me?

The above networking pitch is good, isn’t it? This is the way most of us network. But, alas, this is probably the worst way to network. Here’s why —

Introduction

In the above network pitch, I introduce myself in one sentence —

Hi! I’m Abhishek, a software engineer at PayPal.

What’s worse is the fact that I introduce myself through the company I work for. The things that are wrong with this sentence are —

  • One sentence introduction— It gives the other person the opinion that I lack personality. (Why else would I have only one sentence to say?) To avoid such a mess, we need to begin with a two or three sentence summary of who we are and what we do.
  • Focus on company (or designation) — The person you are discussing with begins to think that you are NOTHING but your job title (or company). To avoid such miscommunication it is better to leave out the external titles and focus on internal aspects like interests and hobbies.

Intersection

After my introduction, I went on to highlight an article that was necessarily an intersection between my thoughts and those of the FinTech Influencer. My exact words were —

Your article on the far reaching consequences of Blockchain is truly inspiring.

The things that are wrong with this sentence are —

  • Abstract — I used abstract identifiers like ‘Your article’ and exaggerated expressions like ‘inspiring’. The person listening to these words gets the thought that I might’ve Googled him 10 seconds before striking a conversation. Not the kind of impression I’d want to leave.
  • Lack of opinion — When we present someone with an intersection statement, it is better to provide it with our opinions. If our statement lacks opinion, it gives the other person an impression that we haven’t thought about the intersection.

Value proposition

Following the introduction and the intersection, I presented the FinTech influencer with a value proposition —

I would like to interview you for a Medium post. Would you be willing to work with me?

The perspective however was misdirected. I was expecting him to add value to me through an interview. How can I ask someone for a professional favor when I have done nothing for them?

The last piece of the real way of Networking is value proposition through value addition. Instead of asking the other party to add value to your initiative, suggest ways in which you can add value to theirs. That way, you are more of an asset than a liability. Would you associate yourself with an asset or a liability?

Now that we know the three parts of a networking pitch. Let’s put them all together —

Hi! I’m Abhishek a technologist and Medium writer. I have explored multiple forms of technology and firmly believe that technology will drive businesses in the coming future. I have had a chance to read your article ‘The Blockchain puzzle’. The article was very crisp! In my opinion you could have added some examples at the end, to leave stronger message. I know that more of your articles are coming out soon. Is there any way I can help in promoting your articles?

The new Networking Pitch incorporates all the aspects of the real way of networking. Remember —

  • Have a solid Introduction. Leave titles at the door!
  • Make sure that your thoughts intersect with those of the people you network with. Back up those thoughts with your opinions.
  • Always suggest ways in which YOU can add value, instead of asking them to add value.

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