As a newsletter recipient of Dorie Clark (keynote speaker, author of “Stand Out Networking”) I became aware of a fantastic article in the Harvard Business Review that suits tamanguu very well, in which she discusses the challenges and solutions for introverts in business networking.
I will present, supplement and comment on this article in the tamanguu blog hereafter.
The power of happy coincidences in networking
First, Dorie Clark discusses the happy coincidences that happen in business through networking and refers how these coincidences and creativity are fostered in the Silicon Valley campus. You certainly don’t have to go to Silicon Valley to experience it. Networking events are a suitable place if you can find the right peace for it in conversation. That’s why I usually take at least half an hour, even better an hour, for my appointments at such events. In half an hour, usually only a creative exchange can be started, but it can be made so interesting that one makes a follow-up conversation after the event. In one hour there is already more in it. More space and time for an interesting exchange give personal meetings, video calls or telephone calls.
The term “exchange” is very general. And why does creativity play an important role here? Everyone has different experiences, knowledge and mental processes. Creativity and the resulting innovation are the result of the combination of experience, knowledge and the goal of solving a problem or challenge. Without an exchange with other people, the solution is therefore only a combination of one’s own limited experience and ideas. Through the exchange with other people, the experience and the ideas are potentiated and recombined, so that a new solution can emerge. The more different people are, the more creativity arises.
Back to the happy coincidences, which perhaps are no longer so coincidental, when you see the background of the development of creativity.
The combination of experience, networks, being human, mindset and knowledge is the breeding ground for every networking event. With the right networking mindset, coincidences are not only encouraged, but rather provoked - in a positive sense. So you will always find people in your own network who will help you get ahead. In the words of Networking Coach Jan-Lüthje Thoden, for whom I recently gave an interview in his podcast “Business Friends”: “The solution to your biggest problem is only one contact away.”
But all this, as Dorie Clark writes, is difficult for introverted people, because they neither like to go to business networking events nor go from one conversation to the next with enthusiasm. In her article she provided some tips.
Tip 1: Make them come to you
Dorie Clark reports on the paradoxical solution of placing herself as an introverted person as a speaker on the events. The reason: “when you’re the speaker, people approach you, and there’s a ready-made topic of conversation”. This is a clear advantage for small talk beginners as well as for professional conversation.
Being a speaker at an event creates further advantages from my perspective:
- You will be positioned as an expert and perceived accordingly. The event promotes you as a speaker. Usually you have more opportunities to present yourself with a profile on the website or in other digital media around the event. The assigned expert status increases the interest in what you say.
- With other speakers or top-class participants, you are automatically at eye level. There is often also a retreat or meeting place for speakers where they can still exchange ideas.
- Also not trivial is that you usually get a speaker fee and don’t have to pay for the conference ticket, travel expenses and catering.
Therefore I can highly recommend being engaged as a speaker in terms of networking.
Tip 2: Bring a friend
Dorie Clark recommends having a wingman with you. As advantages she mentions the fact that you give each other self-confidence and recommend each other and introduce yourself to other acquaintances. But there are also some dangers. Dorie Clark warns that you can be distracted by talking to your colleague.
Another danger I have often experienced is that the person does not always function as a wingman, but can also stick to me like wax if he does not have his own goals for the event or hides by my side.
It should therefore be clear: To explore the event together and use the advantages, but also to have and give individual freedom for networking activities.
Tip 3: Have a few opening lines ready
Especially in spontaneous conversations, it is not always easy to get started because there are no obvious starting points. The aim of starting a conversation is always to start a dialogue. A well-known approach is the so-called elevator pitch, which we have already addressed in other blog articles about Networking Events in general and the best preparation for the c/o pop Festival and the Reeperbahn Festival.
The disadvantage of the Elevator Pitch is that it is strongly focused on yourself. However, a golden rule of the Networking Mindset is to be interested in the person you are talking to and to help them.
Dorie Clark suggests two very good introductory questions:
- Address the professional passion of the contact, e.g: What is the coolest thing you are currently working on?
- Dealing with similarities, e.g. at an alumni event: When did you graduate? Which lecturers did you have?
There is another question which I experienced as very valuable in terms of business networking:
- Identify problems and challenges to know how to help the contact; e.g. What are the biggest challenges in your job at the moment?
Basically, there are open questions that initiate a conversation better than “ It’ s a great event, right?
Tip 4: Research in advance
This tip from Dorie Clark is an absolute must for me! If I know who I’m meeting, either because I’ve already arranged fixed appointments or because I know who I’d like to talk to, I’ll do as much research on this person as possible in advance.
- I can estimate how a person ticks.
- I know what we have in common, such as shared experiences, backgrounds, attitudes, knowledge or contacts. By the way, a topic that Dorie Clark also considers very important.
- I can think in advance what my goal is with the person, but also how I can help the person with my expertise.
- To arrange a meeting in advance guarantees that a conversation will take place and simplifies the entry into the conversation immensely, because both can mentally prepare for it.
Overall, Dorie Clark’s article on the Harvard Business Review website offers very valuable networking tips, especially if you’re a more introverted person.
More information about the keynote speaker and author Dorie Clark can be found at https://dorieclark.com/
Also interesting in this context:
In this sense: Happy Networking!
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