3 Unconventional Networking Tips You Haven’t Tried Yet
You’ve probably already experimented with all the tried-and-true networking tips and strategies, like reaching out to new people, swapping business cards, sharing your elevator pitch, communicating effectively, listening, and offering value.
But those tips may not be as effective in a post-COVID-19 world – you may want to try some unconventional networking tips instead.
Digital networking is going to be very valuable to your business in these times. But you’ll also want to familiarize your audience with you and your business. Don’t put all of your effort and budget into digital marketing; try to also find apps and groups to digitally network with.
If you haven’t gotten very far with these strategies, or you want to take your networking efforts to another level, then you may want to try a new approach.
In this article, we’ll be sharing some of our favorite unconventional networking tips so you can start supercharging your network.
1. Send “thank you” notes to people who have helped you (even if they don’t know you).
Did you ever read a really great article or listen to an inspiring podcast episode that changed your perspective?
You may occasionally take the time to leave a comment or write a review. But have you ever actually reached out to a creator and thanked that person for their work? Try to track down the person’s email address, and send a genuine “thank you” note—it could lead to a new connection.
You may feel like you’re bugging them, but creators often feel isolated, like they’re throwing their content into the void and wondering if anyone is experiencing it. Don’t feel like you have to be overly complimentary, just speak from your heart. The content creator you’ve targeted will appreciate that they’ve helped you, and that someone, anyone, is enjoying their output.
Provide specific information in your note about how the person helped you. Perhaps they gave you a new idea or showed you a more efficient way to run part of your business? In your note, state in what way they were so helpful. That way, they will know that you were paying attention and the information was valuable.
When you reply or follow up, briefly state what you do and how you might be able to help their business or how a relationship could mutually benefit both of you.
2. Be helpful without having an agenda.
When they’re networking, most people have a very specific agenda: either they’re trying to gain new business, or they’re looking for something specific that another person has.
Try a different, selfless approach to networking, and start offering people resources and advice without any agenda behind your actions. Send them a link to a book you found useful, or a TEDTalk or other YouTube video that is relevant to the conversation but isn’t something you created or are trying to promote.
These people will be so taken aback by your generosity and helpfulness that they’ll start talking about you and often show you generosity in return.
The trick is to never expect anything; if you do, you might be disappointed if people don’t reciprocate. You need to come at this tactic with pure altruism in mind, and an honest desire to help. People are really good at sensing authenticity, particularly online where they’re inundated with “helpful advice” that is clearly an advertisement.
3. Forget about your elevator pitch.
You likely have a short elevator pitch that you feel comfortable sharing when you’re networking with new people. And it’s a good idea to have an elevator pitch, don’t get us wrong. Some people will specifically ask for your elevator pitch, and you should have something short and sweet in mind that fully captures your work.
However, you may be so familiar with your elevator pitch that you’ve forgotten the meaning behind it and are devoid of emotion when you share it. When things become too rehearsed they sound robotic. You want to really convey your passion and excitement.
Instead, try to network without using your elevator pitch, and use the natural flow of conversation as a guide for how to share more information about yourself and your strengths. In fact, ask the person you’re networking with lots of questions about them, and only nudge the conversation toward your pitch when it feels natural to do so.
Did they mention a topic that your business or pitch covers? That’s the time to jump in and share your thoughts.
You may be surprised by how much value you get from the conversation.
Share your networking tips
What are some unconventional networking tips that have worked for you in the past?
How do you get over the initial awkwardness of meeting someone new and kick-start a fruitful and valuable professional relationship? We’d love to hear about some approaches that you find effective.