How to Network Effectively Part 1
Getting to know new people is the way I make my living. To say I’m in a niche would be understating it; I perform magic and mind-reading at high end events in Chicago, Indianapolis, and across the country. I also educate people at conferences how to be better at business from an entertainer’s perspective. You don’t get into this trade by accident, it is years of training and hard work. So a few years ago, when I started networking to build up business, I found that many techniques from my performing side were spilling over into business networking events. And after going to countless events like these, its obvious to me why some people have told me that “they don’t have much luck at networking events.”
Performing at thousands of cocktail party environments has given me a competitive edge in the networking scene. But rather than keep it to myself, here are 3 ways to networking like a magician:
1. Be bold, and approach people you don’t know. The more the better.
It pains me to even ask this, but you came to this event to expand your network, right? Well, we all see you awkwardly standing in the corner by yourself, or standing at the bar nursing your drink, and even sitting with the friends you came with and waiting for people to approach you. Enough! This isn’t high school. You are an adult with a lot to offer others. Get up, and approach a large group and integrate yourself. Have no fear, it will surprise you at how much you can accomplish by approaching the very people that intimidate you. People are actually very forgiving if you interrupt their conversation to introduce yourself. People like confidence and a bold attitude.
2. Dress with Flair
I am not suggesting you wear a sequined jumpsuit like a Vegas magician, or go goth like Criss Angel. I’m suggesting that you simply be strategic in the clothing you wear to a networking event. As a general rule, simply dress one step above what you could expect others to be wearing. If I expect an event to be business casual, I always wear a suit (though often without a tie, and I might sport a pocket square). This is not a business suit I will be wearing, I make sure they are either patterned and or have a striking color to them. The goal is to STAND OUT in the crowd. Dressing with style and well coordinated outfits will not only make you more visually appealing, but also sub-consciously suggest that you are someone of importance and worth speaking to. If you don’t have your wardrobe in check, get on it.
3. Leave them with a memory, and share your talents.
My job is engage and astonish people. But you don’t need to be a professional magician, or even an amateur one, to make a memorable impact on someone new you meet. Play your strengths and talents. And if you don’t have any, develop some (ideally not work related). The goal is to leave the people you meet with the impression that you lead an exciting life and that they would be a fool not to get to know you better. Are you funny? Whip up your best jokes or stories. Do you have an insanely good memory? Well, create a fun party trick by memorizing 50 numbers in a row. Are you a grade school teacher? Chances are your kids have drawn some funny looking things, whip out the photos in your phone. Do you direct commercials? Make a funny video on the spot about the cocktail party, post it to YouTube. Be a show off. But do it in a socially dynamic way that that is from a giving place, about letting someone into your life and what makes you unique. I can’t decide what that is for you, but you are special in a way that is unique to you, and we are all dying to see what that is. Pretend you’re about to be a guest on the Tonight Show, and imagine what you would do to WOW Jimmy Fallon.
In closing… networking is about meeting new people, and offering something of value to them through their relationship with you. What you do, and how you do that is up to you. But don’t let your confidence, dress, or introverted personality stand in the way of making great connections. We want to meet you. We want to remember you. Oh, and don’t forget your business cards!