You’ve heard the sayings… “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” “It’s not who you know, but who knows you.” “It’s not the grades you make, but the hands you shake.” I’m beginning to think that these were excuses my fraternity brothers and I made to excuse procrastination in college (which didn’t work, by the way). Yet, there is some truth to the sayings.
The current marketplace is darn competitive, and having a network who will advocate on your behalf is worth more than ever. In fact, it’s almost imperative to land a job and be successful.
It would take around 10 seconds with me to realize I’m an extrovert (I have to be to be a good marketer). I get energized by being around people, so networking comes naturally to me. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, so for those of you who aren’t keen on networking, here are a few tips I hope you find helpful to showcase your awesomeness.
- Polish your online presence. Sure, the 6 ft. beer bong was cool in college, but making it your cover photo isn’t going to score any points with your future boss or coworkers. And, while you may drop a choice 4-letter word when you stub your toe (understandably), keep the cussing out of your status updates. Remember, you’re branding yourself – so make your online brand someone who the most people will want to be associated with. Don’t alienate folks with your profiles. Then, just try to post cool, relevant content worth sharing.
- Learn how you come across. Video your presentations, practice speeches or interviews in the mirror. Your body language speaks volumes – so try “Power Posing” before meetings, speeches, etc. Oh, and watch this video (it’ll also explain what “Power Posing” is).
- You only get one first impression. The subtle power of a smile goes a long way. So does a firm handshake. And, looking people in the eyes is becoming a lost art. ** If you’re on the phone, stand up and smile! ** Standing makes your voice project far more clearly, so you sound more confident. Make sure to smile — you can hear a smile. Seriously, try it! You don’t have to be a “high I” on the DISC test to make a good first impression, so be yourself. It’s better to listen more than you talk anyway (I have to remind myself of that too often).
- Follow up quickly. After you’ve connected with someone who could be a great asset to your network, add them on your social media channels (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter… get a Google + profile too). Try to get their business card — and shoot them a text or email letting them know you think they rock and how much you enjoyed meeting them. Social media is a great way to keep in contact and “touch” your network frequently. A hand-written is a touch of class that goes a long way.
- Schedule ways to keep in touch. If you have an experience or stumble upon something that makes you think of a person in your network, let them know! Reach out to them and share the story. I have a colleague (and dear friend) who puts reminders in his calendar to reach out to different people each day. Seriously. Monday may read: “Call John, message Julie, check in with Kyle.” Every day, he reaches out to different people to stay in touch. I asked him if he felt it was contrived. He responded that he genuinely loves his connections and they know that. This just makes it easier for him to manage a large network of friends and professionals. And, I never complain when I get a call from him to grab a drink.
- Always be a resource. Zig Ziglar profoundly stated, “You can have everything in life you want, if you just help enough other people get what they want.” He’s right. Don’t be the guy constantly asking for favors. Eventually, people will stop taking your calls. Instead, ask for ways you can be helpful – personally or professionally. An attitude of service and gratitude will pay dividends.
For the record, these are just ways to polish the awesomeness you already have. You don’t have to look like a model, be a comedian, or possess Mark Twain’s wit to enjoy a great network. Being likable isn’t rocket science. You’re awesome the way you are, because you were made with a killer skill-set. Nobody can be you better than you.