Networking your way to success: How I became a connector
Networking is an incredibly important skill, which is why I want to help you learn how to network your way to success
I was lucky enough to have been voluntold for recruiting duty in 2013. Three years of recruiting builds some pretty solid networking skills.
If you’re in the military and want to get paid to learn how to network and sell, it might be worth volunteering to be a recruiter. It won’t be an easy three years, and definitely won’t always be fun. However, it will teach you a valuable skill set which the military does not teach anywhere else!
If you’re not in the military you can do what a lot of successful people, like Robert Kiyosaki and Grant Cardone, have taken sales jobs in order to learn this valuable skill.
Below are some of the things I have learned on recruiting duty, through books, and through countless hours of networking!
I have seen rapport Defined as a state of harmonious understanding with another individual or group that enables greater and easier communication.
In other words, rapport is getting along well with another person, or group of people, by having things in common. Building Rapport makes the communication process easier and usually more effective.
Basically, you want to get on the same page as the other party in order to establish trust with them. Here are some basic tips you can use to build rapport
Find Common Ground
The first step to building rapport is to find common ground. When I was a recruiter, they taught us to do this by picking something out about their outfit and striking up a conversation about it.
This could be their watch, shoes, headphones, the band on their t-shirt, or anything else you notice that you can talk about with them.
Another useful trick is to pick something out that you don’t understand and ask the person to elaborate on it. You will rarely find a person that doesn’t enjoy talking about themselves or a certain piece of their outfit/identity.
Ultimately, finding common ground just requires you to be observant and figure out something you have in common with the other person, and then talk about it. Don’t overthink this, it could be as simple as a hometown, job, hobby, tattoo, anything at all.
Match and Mirror
Matching and Mirroring is the art of mimicking the other parties’ body language without them noticing. Have you ever noticed that if you’re talking to somebody and you cross your arms, they will oftentimes cross theirs too?
This is a simple example of matching and mirroring, and it creates a sense of unity and furthers the common ground previously established.
In other words, try to subtly lean in when they lean in, lean back when they lean back in their seat, etc.
Please note that I used the words “without them noticing” and “subtly”. Don’t noticeably copy the way people are sitting, just try and mirror it casually. You do this by slowly adjusting your body position a few seconds after they do, and not necessarily to the exact same posture. If they lean back, you could lean back in a different way.
I hope that makes sense and I don’t see a lot of you crossing your legs like you’re wearing a skirt because the other person did!
Demonstrate Core Values
You need to be a person worth knowing! That means becoming the kind of person that people want to emulate.
Demonstrating your core values is a fancy way of saying that you need to be a person of morals. More so, these morals need to be evident to those you meet and talk with. Don’t try to fake the funk here, but rather strive to genuinely become a person worth knowing!
When I was a rookie recruiter, one of my instructors told me that “If they like you, they’ll join”. I championed this phrase as my key to success for my entire tour.
This over-simplified statement means that if somebody admires you, they are much more likely to listen to you and learn from you. If you become a likable influencer, people are naturally going to be more interested in having a conversation with you.
This is why the key to all networking is self-development. You must look inside and give an honest evaluation of who you are, and then make the necessary changes to become a better person. Just focus on becoming a person that is worth knowing!
In the right place
Building rapport and becoming a person worth knowing is important, but without the opportunity to meet people it is useless.
That is why the second part of networking is to go outside and meet people! Find local groups that meet about Real Estate Investing (REI), Self-Development, Origami, or whatever interest you want to learn about…and then go to those meet-ups!
Once you’re at the meeting you need to step out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to people. You don’t need to be a subject matter expert or have any prior knowledge/experience, all you need is the confidence to show up, introduce yourself, and listen!
This is where taking action and being proactive will pay dividends. I have found it is very easy to make excuses and avoid events/meet-ups. It is easy to justify not having the time, not wanting to drive, not wanting to spend more time away from home, or any other excuse. Every time I have actually made it to an event though I am reminded of just how valuable they are. It is a place to meet like-minded people, share ideas, and learn from the people that are paving the road in front of you. I assure you that any excuse you make will not outweigh the benefits from just showing up with a smile on your face to network!
You can even take advantage of virtual networking opportunities by attending zoom calls, Facebook groups, online summits/conferences, and all sorts of other great options. As we saw during the Coronavirus scare in 2020, virtual meetups can be quite effective. If you absolutely cannot get out to an event physically, I urge you to find virtual networking opportunities to take advantage of!
Making an Impression
Alright, you’ve finally made it to a meetup. Now it is time to make an impression! Here are some basic pointers you can use to make a good first impression.
The handshake is the most common greeting in America, and perhaps more importantly the first impression. When you shake somebody’s, hand use a firm grip, shake once, maybe twice (Just long enough to state your name), and release clasp. It is better to be short, than awkwardly long.
This is another important component of communication. I have known people that are too nervous to look me in the eye, and awkwardly stare at the floor or ceiling instead. Not only does this give the impression that what I’m saying lacks importance to you, but it is also detrimental to how I will perceive your level of confidence. Make eye contact during the introduction, and appropriately throughout the conversation.
Show Genuine Interest
When you first meet somebody, you should ask open questions about their life. Get them talking about themselves and show genuine interest. People can tell if you’re super distracted, or just waiting to jump in and talk about yourself.
Make sure you take some time to learn their name and hear what they have to say before you jump in to talk about yourself.
How you carry yourself will play a role in whether or not people remember you. I was once told that when you enter a room, you should enter as though you own the room!
While there is a fine line between confident and cocky, I am certain it is better to cross this line then appear to be a limp noodle. Carry yourself with your head high, shoulders back, chest up, and make eye contact!
In my opinion, the way that you carry yourself is one of the most important parts of networking. I would recommend practicing your posture, and introduction with somebody that will give you honest feedback until you are confident about the impression that you will make. If you do not have somebody to critique this, or you are still too nervous, Practice using a mirror, or videotape yourself!
The Like Switch
One of the best books I’ve read about networking is called The Like Switch. This book is all about how to get people to like you through non-verbal cues. You do this, in part, by mastering The Friendship Principle: Friendship = Proximity + Frequency + Duration + Intensity
Proximity = the distance between you and another person.
Frequency = the number of contacts over time, and the duration, that you have with another person.
Duration = How long each of your interactions last.
Intensity = how strongly you are able to satisfy another person’s psychological and/or physical needs when interacting.
Essentially, if you spend a lot of time next to someone, the odds are that they will be predisposed to like you.
There are a lot of great non-verbal communication skills in this book, but if you can master the rapport-building steps outlined above you’ll be just fine!
Networking at Conferences
If you find yourself attending events, whatever the reason, here are some ways to be a power networker and ensure the event is a huge win for you.
Have a Plan
First and foremost, you need to have a plan for what your networking goals are at the end of the event. I like to write down a few goals for myself before an event starts in order to answer these three questions:
Who do you want to meet?
Why do you want to meet them?
What value can you bring to them?
The first two questions are self-explanatory but definitely worth reviewing. You should try and pick out 2-3 people you would love to meet, and why you want to connect with them. This could be a specific person like a speaker, or a generic goal like “I want to meet an accountant” or “I want to meet five potential investors”.
Yes, this can be the keynote speaker (I’ve done it a few times), but you need to REALLY focus on the third question if you’re going for this goal.
You should always focus on what value you can bring people, but this is even more important if they have any level of celebrity status. They meet hundreds, if not thousands, of people every day, how do you intend to stand out from the crowd?
You could give them some valuable feedback on how their speech went, and even point out something they could improve, help them solve a problem you know they’ve mentioned, or even bring them a unique gift. You don’t have to get crazy here, but definitely put some thought into how you can bring value to these people and make a great impression!
Master Your Elevator Pitch
A great elevator pitch needs to be concise, inclusive, and genuine.
Concise – You should keep your elevator under twenty-seconds, and no more than thirty.
Inclusive – You should include who you are, what you do, and why they should care.
Genuine – Don’t sound robotic. Practice your pitch enough that you’re comfortable changing words, and it sounds authentic…because it should be!
My current elevator pitch goes something like this:
I’m David Pere, and I host the Military Millionaire Podcast which is dedicated to helping service members, and veterans, learn how to build wealth through real estate investing entrepreneurship, and personal finance.
Obviously, I tailor this pitch depending on who I’m talking to, but it is concise, inclusive, and genuine.
Depending on the type of event, and who you’re networking with, you could even include a question to see if they can help you at the end of your pitch. This could be a simple question like “do you know any veterans who could benefit from listening to my podcast?”
If they do, great!
If not, that is fine…the next time they cross paths with somebody who fits that description they just might think of referring them to you!
Word of mouth is very powerful, your network is very powerful, and you are very powerful. Take time to become a good networker, even if it doesn’t come naturally. I promise it WILL pay dividends!