Networking Your Way to a Million Dollars – It Starts with a Latte
Posted on December 19, 2012
It’s common knowledge that networking is a key aspect of any successful business venture, but getting yourself noticed and making those connections can seem easier said than done. It’s normal to feel frustrated, but when you think of giving up, try a little caffeine boost instead — literally. Here are my top five tips for turning your local coffeehouse into your personal networking office.
That’s right — you can’t be afraid to start up a conversation with a stranger. If the person next to you is on his computer, introduce yourself and ask him what he does. If he’s polite, he will ask you what you do back – and, from there, you never know where it could lead. For me, those off-the-cuff conversations have led me to meet top executives, celebrities, mega entrepreneurs, and investors. I’ve learned new skills, made business connections, and gained the knowledge and inspiration I needed to start various companies. In fact, it’s how I became a part owner in an auto dealership, a vodka company, software companies and more. And it all started with a simple “hello” over a cup of coffee.
Don’t be the person that hides behind her newspaper. Choose a spot that feels open and inviting. When you talk to people, show them you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say. Compliment them, be positive, and give good energy. And when in doubt, ask them questions — people love to talk about themselves.
Dress for success
It’s extremely important to always try to look your best, because you never know whom you’ll meet on a given day. It could be the love of your life, or it could be your next investor. Like it or hate it, people make a judgment within the first 10 seconds of meeting you, so leave your old sweatpants at home.
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My local Starbucks is a community; we regulars all know, help, and take care of each other. I’m 24 years old, but my friends in Starbucks span from age 16 to 75. I met a contractor a year ago, and he ended up helping me get my kitchen remodeled at cost. He saved me thousands of dollars. Now I’m helping him improve his Internet presence. The people I meet at Starbucks seem to have that, “I help you, you help me; together we change the world” mentality that I find empowering.
Keep an open mind
I look at opportunity as being in the right place at the right time. If you want to start using Starbucks as a home office or an opportunity to network, you have to be bold, open, and fearless. If I hadn’t had this attitude, I would have never met the man who inspired me to learn and invest in the domain name space. This chance encounter at a coffee shop spurred the idea that would make me a millionaire by the age of 23. If you are afraid to step outside your comfort zone, you will miss out.
Some people think this kind of networking magic only happens in places like Silicon Valley, where everyone is working on a tech startup. I look at Starbucks as my own Silicon Valley. I believe that if you make yourself known and exude great positive energy, you will attract incredible things. It all starts with that cup of coffee and first “hello.”