If you want to fast track your life, whether that’s by turning a part-time side hustle into a full-time career or by finally landing that dream job you’ve set your sights on, you’ll need a solid list of people you can count on to get things going.
In other words, you need a crew. A squad.
When things get tough (and honey, they will), you’ll need someone with whom you can vent and problem solve. Someone who just gets it. And let’s be honest, after months of hearing you complain about how things just aren’t taking off with your side hustle, your friends and family are starting to just not get it anymore.
By having a squad on the same missions as you, they will inherently “get it” and will cheer you on–or kick your butt when you need a little bit of motivation.
Whether you consider yourself to be introverted or totally independent, it’s important to have people in your circle who’ve faced similar problems (or who can put you in touch with someone who has). And in fact, making genuine connections with people can give you more than just an increased set of professional possibilities–it can enrich your life overall. Studies show that people who have shallow relationships (whether that be personal or professional) are often depressed, have terrible health, and feel an overwhelming sense of despair.
That sure sounds like a hot mess kind of life. And, girl, you don’t want any part of that.
Since you’re reading this blog, we know you’re a hustler willing to do the hard work it takes to crush your goals. And you know strong relationships are important for your business (and your health). But how do you make it happen? [Sign up here to get your FREE copy of The Trés Fleek Guide To Crushing Your Goals]
Below we’ll show you 4 proven methods to help you create more meaningful, long-lasting connections in an hour or less. Ready? Let’s get started!
But why do deep, genuine connections matter? You see, people want to do things for people they like. So when someone sees you care and starts to like you, they’ll want to see you succeed.
1. Stop, listen, repeat
Ever meet someone that just can’t stop talking? How did it feel to be around them? Did you feel like they were interested in getting to know you or just getting whatever it was off their chest?
When you’re around someone like that, it doesn’t feel so great.
So don’t be like that. Instead, make sure you’re fully using your active listening muscles when getting to know someone new.
What’s active listening? Active listening is when you place all of your conscious attention on what the speaker is saying. You take in both verbal and nonverbal cues to understand the full message they’re trying to convey.
If you’re used to just nodding your head and looking around the room when meeting new people, you’re missing out on the opportunity to make a deep, real, genuine connection.
And connecting with people on a genuine level is what will help you make relationships that will last beyond the length of one networking event (and get you closer to where you want to be). But you can’t make a genuine connection with someone if you’re not listening to what they’re saying.
Wondering how you can put active listening to use? Try these 3 techniques:
- Pause 3-5 seconds before responding. When you pause after someone finishes a sentence, it gives them time to process what they just said and continue on if it turns out they’re not quite done yet. Plus it shows that you’re there to hear them out (and we all know a little bit of a courtesy goes a long way).
- Provide feedback without interrupting. In order to show the other person that you’re actually listening to them, it’s important to repeat back what they’re saying. Now don’t make it all weird. You don’t have to walk around like Polly the Parrot and literally repeat their every single word. Simply paraphrase what they’ve said (or ask a short clarifying question) throughout the conversation. You want the other person to feel heard while in your presence.
- Be curious. Ask open-ended questions when you’re with people. This gets them talking and makes them feel interesting. Some great open-ended questions to use are “How did you end up with your current company?”, “What makes you get out of bed every morning?”, or “What goal are you working on??”.
2. Remember the details
This is when active listening will start paying dividends. When meeting new people either personally or professionally, it’s important to listen to the little personal tidbits they bring up–and remember them.
- Do they have a dog? If so, what’s it’s name?
- Do they have kids? If so, how many? What age?
- Do they have a unique hobby? If so, would you be interested in learning more about it?
- Do they enjoy a particular type of food? If so, what is it?
Even though most networking events are about mixing and mingling with people who are on a mission to level up their careers (and yours), that doesn’t mean you can’t talk about light-hearted topics like pets and upcoming fabulous trips.
In fact, when you get past small talk and down to the core of what gets someone excited, whether work-related or otherwise, you build a deeper, more genuine connection. When you see that person again, you’ll be able to show that chatting with them was more than just transactional in nature, that you actually cared. And when it comes to networking in this day and age, that’s a rare gift.
Next time you run into them, they’ll be excited to see you and be around you. And when other people are excited to be around you, guess what? You’re on your way to making deeper, more genuine connections.
But why do deep, genuine connections matter? You see, people want to do things for people they like. So when someone sees you care and starts to like you, they’ll want to see you succeed. In turn, they’ll want to share their contacts, their resources, and their trade secrets of getting ahead.
So, yes, while it’s still important to discuss the shared professional interests that brought you to a particular networking event, don’t forget that the people you’re talking to are just like you.
They’re human beings, and they have many different interests. So get to know all of them, not just their professional side.
3. Play to Your Strengths
If you’ve ever read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, you’ll remember his three different archetypes of people: Mavens, Connectors, and Salespeople. Whether you know it or not, you probably already fall under one of these three archetypes.
Let’s break it down for ya.
A Maven is someone who is always in the know. They’re resourceful. They know where to find things and are usually up-to-date on the latest technology, hottest restaurant, or newest tips and tricks. They are usually the people who read THAT book by THAT author (and probably way before everyone else did too). Now, they won’t be an expert in every area. But within their areas of interest they’re definitely the go-to person. And they can help you solve your problems quickly by providing valuable resources that you may not have known about otherwise.
A Connector is someone who has a smartphone (or an ol’ school rolodex) full of contacts. They’re someone who’s always making connections between people and spotting opportunities for collaboration. You’ll often hear them saying “you really should get in touch with her” or “I have a friend who can help!” A connector seem to always know someone who knows someone who can help you solve a problem.
A Salesperson is someone who can literally sell water to a well. But not in a bad way. You see, they’re so excited to have discovered a new solution and piece of information that their enthusiasm can influence and persuade people to follow their lead. And it’s not that they’re pressuring you to do something. Instead its their natural energy and excitement for an idea or information that gets others hooked too. Whether it’s a new restaurant or a great productivity tip that will save you loads of time, they know it’s great and want to make sure you don’t miss out.
Naturally, we each fall into one of these three categories. We may even fall into a couple of the categories. Overlap is normal. However we want you to look at your main strengths from those three categories. By knowing yourself, you’ll know how to share your strengths when you’re out and about networking.
For example, if you’re a Maven, you have a ton of information that you can give to people. You may take your “information knowledge” for granted because it feels so natural to you. However, most people aren’t as in the know as you are. So when you’re at a networking event, give to others by showcasing your depth of resources. Suggest websites or books that a person may be interested in (and you’ll already know what they’re interested in because you’ve been flexing your active listening muscle).
Potential new acquaintances will appreciate how helpful you are. They will look at you as a giver, not just someone who is trying to get something from them. And being a giver is crucial for building relationships that last.
Why is that? Well, at most networking events, people are there on the take. They’re looking exclusively for leads for themselves or are only interested in opportunities that will propel them forward. Very rare is the networking event where people are there to just give.
You will stand out amongst the crowd if you show up in all your fierceness by just simply giving. When you do this (and trust it may seem a bit weird if you’re not used to it) it sets the groundwork for strong relationships that will last well beyond the networking event.
4. Keep in touch
Once you get the connection going with someone at a networking event, don’t let it end there. Real, genuine connections take time to deepen and grow. So if you have a genuine interest in staying in touch with this person and/or picking their brain about a subject in which they’re an expert, it’s important to get their contact info before the event is over.
But what happens afterwards?
Should you send them a “nice meeting you” email? Or maybe a text about another upcoming event?
Whether you choose to keep in touch every 3 months via LinkedIn (leaving a comment on an article they shared) or to meet up over drinks or coffee soon after, planting seeds this way is the perfect way to grow deeper connections over time.
And don’t be afraid to invite people you’ve clicked with at networking events to cool events like concerts, comedy shows, or ziplining. By taking initiative, you keep the relationship or the connection warm and they won’t forget you. Who knows, you may even get a lifelong friend out of it.
In the end, it’s people who make the world go round
It may sound overwhelming at first, but making genuine connections is the only tried and true way to make sure your business and your career take off. So putting in the work might be tough, but it’s worth it.
And, to be fair, it *IS* a lot of work.
But it’s a rare skill to give rather than take at networking events, and it’s the one skill that will set you apart from everyone else there. It’ll help people remember you and make them more likely to want to connect with you more in the future. [Read more: “How To Hustle Your Way To Achieving Your Goals: The Trés Fleek Guide”]
You see, when you give freely utilizing your strengths, you’re showing that you’re confident in your abilities. People like being around confident people who are courageous enough to share their resources. Before you know it, you’ll have your very own squad on the same mission as you. A squad that you can count on to help each other level up.
And that’s how you make connections stick…for good.
What else has helped you make connections that last at networking events? Share them with us in the comments below!