They say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
Without sinking into a lengthy digression about what that really means, I’ll just gloss it over with “getting to know people is important.”
For many of us, the best opportunities we’ve had have come to us by way of our personal and professional networks.
So it makes sense to get out there, get to know people, and let them get to know you.
Like anything, there’s a right way and a wrong way to network.
There was one guy I knew, whom I went to school with, and later worked with briefly in retail CE.
He was always a hustler, a mover, and a deal-maker.
Unfortunately for him he was one of those guys whose hustling never seemed to amount to much. But I digress.
At one point, just out of school he was working as a car salesman.
I knew he was, because he frequented the after-hours club I occasionally worked at.
When the lights came up at the end of the night, you needed a push broom to sweep the drifts of his business cards that he’d handed out to literally everyone there, which had been promptly discarded.
Giving your business card in a dark and noisy club to people who don’t care who you are is no one’s definition of effective networking.
Mixing socializing with business can work just fine, just pay attention to the details.
Be interesting, and take an interest in other people. Don’t just be on the hustle all the time; get to know the people you’re talking with. Form, you know, actual connections with people instead of thinking of everybody you meet as a potential sale.
Exchanging business cards or contact information isn’t something you jump to off the bat, it’s a concluding formality. It takes place after you’ve already met somebody, and gotten to know each other.
That way they’re more likely to keep your business card instead of just tossing it as soon as you’re out of sight.