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The Art of Charm (@TheArtofCharm) presents this toolbox episode about networking and social capital basics that will give you an important leg up in your own relationship development skills!
One of the most talked about topics on this podcast is networking and relationship development; it’s kind of the face and the function of the whole show, and it’s what we teach at our live programs at The Art of Charm. It’s number one — with a bullet — the highest-leverage point that any of us have had here at The Art of Charm in business and in our lives. If you’ve been listening to this show for a while, you’ve also heard most of our guests talk about how that’s the same for them from their success, regardless of what industry they’re in. It’s all been about relationships.
So we wanted to bring on both AJ Harbinger and Gavin Masters, an expert here at The Art of Charm who you probably haven’t heard from yet. He writes a lot on the blog, but doesn’t talk a lot on the show. That’s about to change in this toolbox episode of The Art of Charm!
When AJ and Jordan met Gavin at a networking conference, it wasn’t so much the organized events there that facilitated the connection — it was almost in spite of the conference’s official purpose that they came away as friends and, in time, business colleagues.
“When we talk about networking, the thing that keeps coming up is any event that has the word ‘networking’ in it is usually not the greatest place to meet people — because there always seems to be that ulterior motive, right?” says Gavin. “But in that particular context, I think there was just nothing other than our desire to get to know each other that was driving it.”
A lot of people attend such events with the misguided notion that dispensing business cards with the machine-gun rapidity of a casino blackjack dealer — to as many people as possible — is the way to make a lot of connections. But really, connections that get remembered beyond that initial handshake tend to come about more organically. Sometimes it’s the natural, incidental chit chat at after parties surrounding a networking event that get people to bond. (And maybe a little alcohol after a long day of trying to force connections helps, too.)
One of the biggest ways to keep the ball rolling on a new acquaintanceship is also one of the simplest: follow up. Whether it’s through email, a text message, a phone call, or even, as Marsha Shandur recommended in episode 359, a handwritten note, following up with people who are memorable to you will ensure that you remain memorable to them.
“We walked away with a suitcase of business cards,” says AJ, describing how he and Jordan left that particular event. “I know Jordan and I were kind of laughing on the plane ride home — like, how could we possibly keep up with all these people? It’s that meaningful first step…it’s who actually connects after the first step after the meetup — the followup — that leads to the real connection.”
Gavin recalls that both he and Jordan were mutually surprised that neither flaked out for the first post-event dinner meetup they’d planned. They admit that it could be “an L.A. thing,” but it seemed consistent with other networking event experiences they’d had with people from everywhere. Geography, it seems, isn’t entirely to blame. So what is?
“I feel like the more networking as a concept gets into popular culture,” says Gavin, “like every time you go on Business Insider, there’s a headline about networking.
Or every single blog you visit has some content around networking; it seems that everybody’s so much more focused on the mechanics of it. Like, ‘Where do I meet them? How do I do it? What do I say? What do I follow up with? What are the templates?’ instead of just remembering that there are two people in that exchange, which is the most interesting part of when I think back on the moment when we met.”
“Yeah,” says Jordan. “They’re trying to figure out what app to use to network. Meanwhile, they can’t start a conversation and, when they do, it doesn’t go anywhere.”
So if the very concept of networking — and the events tailored around it — are no longer ideal bastions of making genuine connections (if they ever were), then what options does someone who wants to do it the rightway have?