We’ve all heard it before: “It’s not what you know it’s who you know.”
However, very few people feel comfortable talking to strangers to grow their network. In fact, I remember our moms and dads telling us something about strangers…not to talk to them! Nevertheless, over time, that tune changes. In business, people expect us to schmooze, to network.
Do you find networking at an event or conference terribly uncomfortable? If so, that’s because, let’s face it, networking is too much work.
Can Lazy People Excel At Networking?
If you are like me, you try to find the easiest way from point A to point B, a short cut. The common term for this is “lazy.”
So what if you, like me, are lazy? Can the lazy excel at networking? They can. In fact, I’m going to share with you the foolproof four-step networking process for lazy people like me. Following these four steps will take you from a networking “nobody” to a networking “all star.” So, get your pens out or print this article and keep it in your back pocket.
The Four-Step Networking Process For The Lazy
- Instant Icebreaker
It is super awkward to go up to people you’ve never met and try to start a conversation, right? How do you even begin?
You use the Instant Icebreaker. Find someone standing by themselves. Walk up to them and say this:
“I don’t believe we’ve met, I’m [your name].”
The other person will respond with their name. The instant icebreaker is great because even if you have met this person before, they actually smile and then remind you where you met. Then you can say, “Oh, yeah…wow.”
Or let’s say it’s someone you know you’ve met, but you can’t remember their name. Just omit the “don’t.”
“I believe we’ve met, I’m [your name].”
That’s a foolproof way to start any conversation. Now you just have to gulp, continue the conversation, and eventually end it. That leads us to step 2.
- The Texas Two-Step
This is a simple formula you can use to start and maintain a conversation with anyone. The beauty of this formula is that you don’t have to have anything in common or anything to say to these people for it to work.
And using this tool, you can literally maintain a conversation forever. Here is how it works.
Part One: Ask an open-ended question. “Open-ended” means it doesn’t have a yes or no answer.
(Try “What brings you out tonight?”)
Part Two: Acknowledge what the person said by making a statement about it.
(“Oh, you are a board member, I’ve never been on a board.”)
Or you can basically repeat what they said:
(“Oh, so you are on the board.”)
This second part is so important, because it makes the other person feel like you are a good listener, while giving you some time to think of your next question. Then start over with Part One: Ask another open-ended question. It can be random or a follow up question.
(“What made you decide to join the board?”)
Then follow with Part Two again: make a statement about what the person said.
Rinse and repeat. Don’t worry, after doing this with a couple people, you will see how easy it is.
The next step is built on a simple premise. We like ourselves. We like people who look like us, sound like us, and act like us. What you are going to do is observe the person you are talking to and copy their stance, their posture, and the tone/volume of their voice. Start by copying their stance. If you are talking to someone who has their arms folded, fold your arms. If they put their hands in their pockets, put your hands in your pockets. Be their mirror.
I know what you’re thinking: “But Matt, it’s going to be obvious that I’m mirroring this person.” Here is the kicker: nobody ever realizes you are doing it. Go back and try this with people at work. You’ll be amazed. You’ll notice that we naturally mirror people we have a good rapport with. So, by mirroring, you are using a shortcut to make people feel like they naturally have a good rapport with you.
The most awkward part of networking is ending conversations. Well, not anymore.
One of the seven habits of highly effective people is, “Think with the end in mind.” So, as soon as you start talking to someone, you need to start thinking about how you are going to get away from that person. That’s where “gifting” comes in. Ask yourself, “What can you give this person that they would find valuable?” It can be an article, a book, an introduction to someone you know, a baseball cap, whatever. In fact, your entire conversation should be you asking questions to identify something you can gift this person.
This is how you are going to end your conversation. Explain that you are going to go meet some more people, then promise them a gift, asking for their contact information.
(“Listen, I’m going to try to meet a few more people before this thing is done. But if you have your contact information, I’ll send you a great article about serving on a board.”)
When you get back to the office, Google a nice article about being on a board and send it to your new contact.
(“Here is that article I told you about!”)
Be sure to send your gift. By sending the gift, you are showing that you keep your promises. Making and keeping promises is very important in the world of relationships.
Advanced Tactic For The Extremely Lazy: When ending a conversation say, “I’d like to meet [a type of person]. Who would you recommend I talk to here?”
By using the Instant Icebreaker, Texas Two-Step, Mirroring, and Gifting, your next networking event will be so easy that you will swear you are cheating. And don’t worry, you are cheating! So, at that next networking event, don’t be nervous or hesitant. Be lazy and you’ll be an easy success!
About the Author
Matt Handal works for a group of construction experts known as Trauner Consulting Services, Inc. He also provides actionable marketing advice for professional services firms at HelpEverybodyEveryday.com. Find him on Twitter @matthandal.