How to Network Without Shaking Hands

Think about the last blog post you’ve read about networking.

It probably tells you about using social media, going to networking events, maybe some tricks to get people to remember who you are and how to follow up efficiently.

Now think about how many relationships you’ve actually built that way.

Here’s how you can actually build a strong network:

1. Build something awesome.

Too many people network for the sake of networking.  They think that if they get successful/popular people to know who they are, that they will then become successful.

The single best way to network is to start working on something.  Yes, you in your dark room by yourself hustling away at building something will result in a much bigger, stronger network than if you went to 50 networking events.

Why?

Because people want to get to know people who build things.  You will become sought out instead of always doing the seeking.  People will have a reason to want to talk to you.

“Popular” people are also much more likely to give you their time if they believe in what you’re doing.  If you’re just some random lady asking for coffee for no apparent reason, you’ll never get to know the right people.

2. Write.

Again, by creating something that people become aware of, you become sought out instead of always doing the seeking.

Start writing.  Start creating.  People will read your stuff.  If it’s good and you build credibility, it may even reach the “big shots” you gawked over at the last networking event.

3. Help people, every chance you get.

Give.  All the time.  And never ask for anything return unless you really have to.  Build up that bank of trust.

I keep a spreadsheet of all the amazing people I know who are looking for jobs and all of the amazing jobs I hear about.  I love making introductions and helping people find each other.  It’s extremely rewarding for me, and people genuinely appreciate it.

I also get on the phone and chat with 2-3 companies every week who have questions about community management.  It’s an area that I can bring some insight to in most occasions and I love to do it.

This isn’t a “favor for a favor” thing.  It’s being a good person.  When you truly help people every chance you get, that reputation will get around and people will be more inclined to help you down the line.

So here’s your summary:

Build something, share your experiences and be a good person.

You’ll have a massive network in no time and you’ll never have to exchange a business card again.

Are you Lowering your Networking Standards?

Photo cred: Coal Miki

At what point do you consider someone a trusted connection?

Is it after a tweet or two?

Is it after an email?

Is it after a skype chat?

Do you have to meet in person first?

How many times?

Let me phrase it another way.  What does it take for you to trust someone enough to recommend them to others as a professional?

I see social media tools constantly launching with new ways to help people connect with each other.  But as it becomes easier to connect with someone, it seems like we lower our standards for what qualifies as a “trusted connection”, or even as a friend.

What social media allows us to do is create these passive relationships, or “weak ties“.  People have always created weak ties with others, but with social media it becomes possible to do it on a much larger scale.

Now we’re (the social media bubble) even doing it in person.  There’s something that always bugged me about bump and hashable type apps.

Instead of really talking to a person and taking the time to get to know them when you first meet, you can just do a quick info swap on hashable.  It’s this “I’ll get to know her later” mentality.  It weakens our relationships.

The guys at addieu have built something better, because it actually connects the accounts.  It’s more permanent so the exchange actually means something.

Information about a person doesn’t create a relationship, interactions do.

Have you been making real connections with people?  Or are you just bookmarking as many people as possible for later?