One thing I’ve learned over the years is that good networking feels a lot like meeting new friends.
Oftentimes we associate “networking” with a very business-focused, “formal” kind of vibe. But that’s just one, very specific type of networking.
People definitely want to hire or do business with someone who is professional. But they also want someone who they feel a human connection with.
If you bypass this friendly energy, rapport and emotional connection, you are throwing away one of the biggest, if not the most important, factor in your success.
If someone is meeting you for the first time, except in very specific industries or fields, it’s more important for you to project a positive, open and friendly vibe than a “by-the-books” stuffy professionalism:
- Be willing to make a joke and laugh at others’ jokes
- Have open body language: uncrossed arms, hands out of your pockets, chin up, relaxed facial muscles (no scowling or frowning)
- Make eye contact and smile liberally
- Match the other person’s energy: whether excitement, calmness, chilled out, quiet, loud, etc
Think about how you have made new friends. That is essentially your template for good networking, just with slightly more formal clothes and with a conversational focus on people’s work instead of random hobbies.
At the end of the day, these human qualities will be our competitive advantage against Artificial Intelligence. If your career rides on having extreme technical knowledge with minimal humanity, watch out, because there’s a robot coming for you.
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