Networking Tip: Connecting Etiquette

Networking is essential to growing your business. The importance can be summed up in this equation: networking equals more money. As a networker, you become automatically a connector. This then leads to “Connecting Etiquette,” conventions that become your responsibility to follow so as to ease the connecting process between two or more people.

The reason you want to be a good connector is because most people always remember the person that introduced them to another person in the first place. This slowly but surely grows your network base, which is essential.  Here are some things I’ve picked up along the way.

Interesting Introductions

When introducing two or more people, keep it short and sweet. People don’t need to know their blood type and shoe size. Besides their name, and occupation, add something interesting about them, preferably funny. This can be a hobby, or interesting fact, or recent event that he or she went to. Adding interesting facts about the other person is key to sparking a conversation between the two people. For example:

You: This is my friend Bubba, he’s a lawyer, but he just came from China, rock climbs on his free time and built Darth Vader out of Legos.
Connectee: Oh, how interesting!

People usually don’t want to talk about their occupation because they talk about it all day. They want to talk about other stuff, like their passion, or what they do in their free time.  If you just mention what they do, the conversaion will go something like this:

You: This is Bubba, he is financial advisor.
Connectee: Ohhh…so you advise people?
Bubba: …Yeah…

Boring! Don’t be the boring connector.

Also, you should only excuse yourself when you see that you’re being completely ignored. If that happens, thats the perfect time to excuse yourself and let the people bond.

Connecting Two People with the Same Occupation

This just happened to me recently. A connector introduced me to another person, and then immediately left. This was the conversation:

Me: Soooooo, you’re a filmmaker?
Him: Yea…what do you do?
Me: I’m a filmmaker as well…

Boring! I already know several filmmakers, so why did I need to meet this one? There’s no value in it for me meeting him, and for him in meeting me. Its lose-lose. I also didn’t know anything interesting about him or the film he just showcased, so I had to force myself to talk to him. It’s almost the same thing with two lawyers meeting, or two musicians, or two architects. As a connector, you must make sure you explain what’s different or what is interesting about what each of them is doing. As an example, he’s a lawyer but he just won a huge case against a huge company. He’s an architect but he just built the world’s tallest building in Dubai. You need to give their conversation a spark, something to talk about – something different.

To recap, even if they’re in the same occupation, make sure to explain how they’re different.

Connecting: Same Occupation, Different Levels

This happens alot. A young person is introduced to an older person, because the younger person eventually wants to be in the older peron’s shoes one day. Now, as a Connector you must make sure that if you’re connecting a young and old person, that the younger person must have value to add to the older person. Now, this value makes you look good, and it makes the young person look good, so as to make a good impression on the older, experienced person. However, because this type of interaction happens alot, if you do not introduce obvious value, the connection will fizzle. The young person will look average, and the older person will not like you introducing him to more average people.

I think that the connector in the previous interaction thought that I was a young and inexperienced filmmaker, and that I wanted to be connected to a more experienced filmmaker, however, he misjudged my experience. We were  of the same occupation and level of experience, which was doubly bad. There was no value created from that connection, so it fizzled quickly. However, it was both our faults, as in the connectee and connector. My fault for not presenting my experience enough, and his for not trying to know my level well enough.

Connecting: Different Occupations

When connecting with two people that are in different occupations, make sure that the potential for creating value with both connectees is there. There’s no inherent value in introducing a judge and a dancer. So in this case, you have to introduce something that they share in common, such as love of traveling, theater, or certain types of books.

Eventually, you’ll get the hang of “Connecting Etiquette,” it’s something that may take a while to master because habit usually takes over. You must resist the urge of immediately putting two people that do the same together thinking they’ll like each other, etc. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t introduce people at all if your pool of people is limited, you just need to be aware of what value you’re creating, if any, and not just blindly introducing people like my friend did.

What tips would you give for “Connecting Etiquette”?