How To Network Like a Pro

Do you have what it takes?

Nov 23, 2013 • 13 Min Read • 1314 Words

Step 1. Buy a pack of gum.

Seriously.

Self explanatory but just in case it’s not clear: I do NOT want to smell that garlic chicken you had for lunch. This applies to both men and women. I never leave home without a pack of gum or mints ( I swear by 5, flava for daaaayyys).

And if you do meet someone who’s got some dank mouth attack going on, kindly offer them some of your gum like this:

Hey, I love this new gum I just bought, have you tried it?

Step 2. Buy a nice sports coat.

Appearance matters.

But here’s the thing you don’t need to change who you are or your closetful of ironic t-shirts to make a good impression. All you need is one nice jacket. Preferably in a darkish (not black) color to help keep it easy to clean. A crisp jacket over said tee makes a world of difference. You can go from startup geek to startup douche bag in 10 seconds flat!

I prefer a slimmer european look and not a the giant wind bags that American companies like to put out. H&M, Zara, and your local boutique will all have great options.

When you take 5 minutes to present yourself better, you open yourself up to 5 new people.

Step 3. Repeat the name of the person you just met.

Never make the rookie mistake of forgetting a name.

When you are at happy hour, shin dig, launch party, whatever, there’s a simple trick that I use to help me remember names.

“Oh so you are Mark from Facebook. Well how is Mark from Facebook doing today?”

This may sound funny at first, but repeating a name out loud at least once cements your synapses and jump starts the conversation.

Step 4. Shud up and listen!

It’s not all about you Rico Suave.

You are here at this event to meet people. You want to be the genuine, interested and interesting guy who is here to help others out. You are not here to score some strange, meet that VC or chase down that job.

The best way to do that is listen and not talk about yourself first.

“Hey so what does your startup do?”

“Did you have a good day at work today?”

“What do you think of the falafel? Free tastes good right?”

You are asking questions and listening to the responses. You are looking at their eyes and noticing details, you are leaning in for the first few minutes and then leaning back to think about your responses.

If you treat every stranger you meet as someone who could change your life, your positivity will just explode.

Step 5. Quickly find commonality.

“Oh you work at Twitter? A friend of mine works there and says that is an awesome place!” “You are from New York? Man I love the pizza there. What’s your favorite pizza joint?” “You went to school for communication? I often talk to people as well!”

If you can’t find commonality in the first five minutes it means you weren’t listening Mr Ego Trip. Practice Step 4.

We’re all humans and we share so many things beyond our love of shiny objects.

Find what connects you.

Step 6. Wait until they ask you what you do.

Don’t pitch me bro.

One, this works wonders in terms of them actually listening and it gives you a chance to adjust your story so they can relate better. Oh I used to be in Finance as well but I realized my calling was Vegan Square Dancing. Make it short, simple and sweet. You don’t need more than 2-3 sentences and you certainly don’t need to tell your life story. Your goal isn’t to sell them, your goal is just make it very clear you are passionate about what you are doing.

“I’m really looking to work at a place where I can show off my ping pong skills.” “You know, I just learned how to make Thai chili paste. My pad thai is off the chain!” “My startup helps people make healthy choices and lose weight.”

Don’t talk about what you want, talk about what you offer.

Step 7. Pretend YOU are the host of the event.

Offer people drinks even if they are free. Ask them what they think of the event. Introduce people you just met to other people you just met.

“Hey Lisa, Bob works at Twitter and loves armadillos. How do you feel about armadillos Lisa?”

Notice how I repeat names, not just for myself, but for other people in the group. You are that gracious, witty and charming person who just can’t wait to introduce your new friends.

Make those connections happen, and others will want to connect to you.

Step 8. Learn to bail gracefully.

Sometimes you get stuck and that’s ok. It’s how you treat people you have little in common with that really leaves an impression.

Good:

“Hey I have to go to the little boys room, this beer goes through me quick.”

Bad:

“Oh my god I am bored, please don’t open your mouth again.”

Good:

“Great meeting you John, I think I just saw my future wife so wish me luck!”

Bad:

“Hey I just saw a friend, bye.”

This makes it sound like the person you just met is not a friend.

The whole point of networking is to make new friends.

Step 9. Put down the damn phone already!

It’s hard to meet people with your nose buried in an LCD.

I know you are uber connected and Celine Dion just retweeted you but honestly it’s super lame to constantly check your phone while out and about. You can always excuse your politely if something urgent comes up but otherwise it’s way easier to connect to people if you actually talk to them.

Don’t do it. I will punch you in the iPhone.

Step 10. It’s all about the Follow Up.

When you meet someone you want to stay connected to, you gotta follow up. You are building relationships here, not just one off Tinder style hook ups. Generally this is one time where it’s ok to get your business card or phone out. Ask them to spell their name while you add it to your contacts. Or just email them right then and there like this:


To: awesomepersonijustmet@sexytime.com

Subject: Great Meeting You!

Hey Olivia, thanks for getting me that drink. Let’s grab lunch next week and talk mobile.


Two things are key, one you are stating an explicit time to reconnect and what subject matter you have in common. It could mobile, it could be lawn darts, but give the person context. You also did it immediately, not 5 days later when they already forgot about you.

You can also do the social stalker dance and add them on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Snapchat if you are into that kind of thing. Whatever you do don’t meander and tell them your life story, that’s what Medium is for.

If your first follow up doesn’t get a response, wait 2 days and try again. Use your big friendly words. If after that you still get no response, they aren’t worth your time. Or you can do I like do and email them everyday for a month until they fund your startup.

Keep it short, sweet and actionable so they remember you.

Bonus Tip: Set up keyboard shortcuts on your phone

eml : fire@kidbombay.com

Super handy to always have your email ready to go.

pn : 415-555-1212

Just two characters and I can send my phone number to anyone quickly.

ldl : Let’s do lunch!

nmy : Nice meeting you.

ymd : You. Me. Drinks. It’s on.

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