Keith Ferrazzi, CEO of Ferrazzi Greenlight, is perhaps the best networker in the country; his personal contacts list includes head honchos in business and politics. His message: We all need to find the courage to connect with people, even when we feel out of our league.
But as Ferrazzi told Inc. magazine, even he has moments when he doesn’t feel worthy of mingling with, say, Rudy Giuliani or Jack Welch. He vividly remembers growing up poor among rich kids and being embarrassed of his dad’s rust-spotted Nova while other kids were being driven around in Lincolns.
At times like those, he reminds himself of these simple networking tips:
1. Portray your basic personal brand, or the way you market yourself to others. Your brand might be “Curious About Everything” or “Passionate About the Technology Industry.” Find a way to let your core attributes come across as you introduce yourself. Example: “I’m Jane Smith, and I’m in a key support role for a technology VP, which means I learn something new every day ... and I love it.”
2. Share your passions. The quicker you create “instant intimacy,” as Ferrazzi calls it, the more successful you’ll be at connecting. So skip the small talk. Instead, allow the other person to get to know you quickly. Example: “I’m excited to be at this conference, where so many people are also interested in learning and improving their professional lives. I found that last talk so valuable. And even though I miss my kids, I’m glad I’m here.”
3. Invite the other person to share, too. Example: “What are you most excited about these days?”
4. See how you can be helpful to the person. Once you’ve exchanged a few ideas, you may decide to meet later for coffee and talk even more. He or she may offer to connect you with someone who shares your interests. You might offer to help the individual with something that he or she is working on.
And you’ll be on your way to “instant intimacy.”
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