3 Simple Ways to Differentiate Yourself as a Networker
By: Tim Malloy, Business Development Manager, NYC
Networking in NYC is basically a full time job and an important one. Networking can lead to so many things, ranging from new business to new career opportunities. If you aren’t out there meeting new people, you could very well miss out. There are so many events to go to and people you can meet, but how do you stand out amongst the rest? Throughout my career in the startup world I have found 3 things that have given me a great edge in networking and earning colleagues’ trust.
1. Show up…
Yes, I know this seems like an obvious one, but you would be surprised how many people say they will attend an event, happy hour, or get-together and then not go. I have found if you show up consistently, people will not only invite you to other events, but it also shows how reliable you are. I make the effort to attend any event I am invited to and even try to bring others. Bonus tip: if you cannot go to an event, then send someone from your team and give the organizer a heads up with a simple email. For some events the host of the happy hour or dinner has already paid for you, so if you don’t show up then it is an empty paid seat. Sending someone else will help a great deal and the host will love having another contact.
2. Actually follow up…
You go to a coffee meeting and chat for awhile about how you and your potential colleague can send business to one another…then after the meeting nothing happens on either end. No follow up, no intros, just silence. My advice is be the first to make connections and to keep connecting them. After each meeting, I write down who I want to connect that person to and then pick a day each week to make all those connections. This keeps me consistent and organized with my introductions.
Gaining someone’s trust takes time and effort, and if you are willing to connect them to your partners and clients, I promise deal flow is coming your way. The main thing is to be thoughtful with your connections to ensure they can align with each other’s business. It might not always work out perfectly, but each partner will appreciate the intro nonetheless.
3. Event differently…
When I first joined the startup world, I would go to every event I could. However every event I went to was either a panel or a happy hour. Now these can be great and solid events for networking, but when you are doing the same thing as everyone else, how do you expect to stand out? From what I have seen in the market, it is when you throw a fun and creative event that you will put yourself on a whole other level. Choose an activity that takes people out of their comfort zone and allows them to learn about something new beyond work. Here are some ideas:
- Wine tastings
- Ping pong tournament
- Game Nights
- Virtual Golf
- Arcade night
- Painting Class
You can be more selective about who you invite and create a smaller more intimate group. Smaller carefully chosen groups mean more meaningful conversations. The activities themselves get people out of business mode (which is tough to get out of sometimes) and allow them to enjoy themselves in an authentic way. Lastly, by being different you will also drive reliable attendance and attract better speakers and sponsors to your future events. The startup world is small, and word gets around!
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