It can be awkward, intimidating, and scary. Yet, good old networking is crucial for professional growth. As they say, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” However, that doesn’t make it any less challenging.
Networking is one of the most important personality skills needed to grow and develop as a professional, irrespective of your industry. There are many benefits of professional networking, such as mutual sharing of knowledge, increased opportunities, boosted confidence, and more. Yet, it must be remembered that networking is an art, and you become better at it only from experience and practice.
We spoke with Dairon Dip and Anthony Del Rio — the two ultimate gurus of the art of networking — on how to win at the network-building game.
Here’s everything we learned:
- Be Genuine – Dairon’s first suggestion is something that Anthony Del Rio wholeheartedly agrees with. “People can smell insincerity from a mile away,” he says. “Hence, always try to come across as friendly yet genuine.” Anthony Del Rio adds, “Moreover, don’t try to put on a fake personality or pretend to be someone you’re not just to impress. People see through that. It’s always advisable to be yourself while also remembering to be polite and confident.”
- Don’t Be a Bore – This is Anthony Del Rio’s personal favorite. He says, “Although people may not say it on your face, no one likes to engage with someone who’s self-centered or only talks about their own interests and benefits. Lead the conversation with a common topic of interest. And try to avoid topics related to work just as you begin a conversation.” “That is where your research on the person you’re communicating with comes in,” chips in Dairon Dip.
- Catch Their Name and Repeat It – As Dale Carnegie famously said, “A person's name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Therefore, addressing a person by their name and repeating it carefully throughout the length of the conversation can prove quite beneficial. However, Dairon warns that it is important to be subtle when dropping their name. Anthony Del Rio further reminds us that calling out by the name is powerful enough to “momentarily activate our brains in a vegetative state.” So, use that information as a weapon for your advantage.
- Networking Isn’t a Sales Call – “Don’t use first conversations for poorly concealed cold calling. Instead, use them as a way to build an amicable and lasting relationship,” says Anthony Del Rio. “Be pleasing in such a way that the person should want to continue the conversation,” adds Dairon Dip. “And before you even try to make a sale to one of your networks, it is important to convince them that you’re not using them but actually trying to benefit them through your recommended product or service. You must network with an intent to add some tangible value to their lives and not just to make a sale.”
- Win-Win Deal – The next tip in Dairon Dip and Anthony Del Rio’s networking handbook is that the conversation shouldn’t sound like it’s benefitting one side only. “Nobody likes doling out favors for free,” says Anthony. “The point is — you should be able to offer something in return, however small it may be,” explains Dairon.
- Follow Up – You’ve had an amazing first conversation. What next? Do you wait to continue the conversation when you randomly bump into each other again? Of course not. You follow up with them to show how valuable or important they are to you. However, you must not go about it relentlessly. Dairon suggests that a simple “How are you?” message can work wonders in this instance.
- Maintain A Record – It is imperative to keep a systematic record of all the new connections you make as you expand your professional network. You may think, “I have them in my contacts. I can pull those up any time.” However, that’s a rookie mistake, as per Anthony. “When you need some aid from one of your networks urgently, are you going to scroll through your contacts endlessly?” he asks. “Make a spreadsheet and list details like where you met them, the specific industry they are involved in, how they can help you, and what you’ve offered in exchange,” says Dairon.
- Be a Good Listener – Finally, it is important to remember that a robust network can never be built on one-way communication. “In order for people to like you and want to network with you, you must learn to be a great listener,” says Anthony. Dairon adds, “Remember, it’s not always about yourself only. You must give equal importance and respect to the views, opinions, and suggestions of the people you’re networking with. Also, be open to constructive criticism and try to work upon the feedback received.”
There you have it. We couldn’t thank Dairon Dip and Anthony Del Rio more for sharing their valuable time and advice. Now, with this incredible knowledge, the networking masters, Dairon Dip and Anthony Del Rio, hope to see you rise the ranks by leveraging the power of networking.
This article was written in cooperation with Dairon Dip and Anthony Del Rio