Productivity, Strategy

Seven Highly Successful Individuals Weigh In On How to Network in 2017

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Every time you go to an event, it doesn’t take long to notice that there are a few networking superstars in the room who hand their business cards to every single person they meet. They often know hundreds and even thousands of people, but when it the time comes to call in a favor or score an important meeting, they come up empty handed. Ever wonder why?

Highly successful individuals know that networking is more than just a series of handshakes and the exchanging of contact details. If you really want to be a successful networker in the year ahead, you should follow these tips from the people who know how to network and get the job done.

1. Clare Dreyer: Ask for advice and help

Clare Dreyer is a personal success strategist and frequent speaker who specializes in helping her clients achieve their personal and professional goals through building a network of quality relationships. She tells people to ask for the advice and assistance of their connections, and studies support her contention that when you enlist others by asking for something -- a favor, an opinion, an introduction -- they form a more positive opinion of you because it implies esteem and value. There’s nothing wrong with needing help, and people who don’t usually miss out on opportunities. “Make connections and keep a record on each person you meet. Ask for their advice and help,” Dreyer says. “Keep in touch with them along the way and build your network before you need it! Quality relationships are the keys to the kingdom.”

2. Brennan White: Always remember commitments

CEO of and founder of Cortex, the maker of social-media artificial intelligence software, Brennan White shares his networking experiences with others who want to tap their own professional potential. “Early on in my career, I threw around ‘small’ commitments all the time and barely registered that I was making a commitment,” explains White. “In hindsight I was likely letting people down [...] and not knowing it.” He reminds budding entrepreneurs and businesspeople to create purposeful strategies for remembering the commitments they have made, no matter how insignificant, and ensure that follow through is completed. This crucial part of networking gives you the aura of integrity. Jot it down in your journal, make a note in your smartphone, add it to your calendar: Whatever you do, don’t forget.

3. Darius Bradley: Keep your conversations short

Celebrity assistant Darius Bradley, who has worked with ‘Power’ star Rotimi, Broadway actress and Tony Award nominee Saycon Sengbloh, and Gbenga Akinnagbe, advises his clients that if they’re having networking conversations that last more than 10 minutes, they’re not leaving much to talk about later when they meet for that all-important follow up meeting. Remember, he points out, you have an entire room to finesse and the most important part of networking is establishing a reason to talk again. Bradley counsels that short initial chats should focus on getting the contact information necessary to reach out the next day to continue the conversation. And don’t wait more than a day: it may seem overeager to some, but you need to make them remember you as quickly as possible.

4. Christopher Kai: Be a memorable character

Author of Big Game Hunting: Networking with Billionaires, Executives and Celebrities, Christopher Kai teaches his clients how to connect with people on a personal level. He famously convinced Elon Musk to pay a visit to the Union Rescue Mission, the biggest and oldest homeless shelter in Los Angeles, to raise awareness for youth homelessness. Using his own name as an example, Kai says it is important make yourself memorable by turning something that is ordinary into something extraordinary. “Chris is a very common and ordinary name, but my mother named me after St. Christopher, the patron saint of transportation,” a heroic figure who stood on the banks of a mighty river offering to carry travelers to safety upon his shoulders. Consider embellishing your name or career with stories that will make you memorable.

5. Kyle Samani: Build and cultivate existing relationships

Kyle Samani is the CEO of Pristine, the company uses Google Glass in healthcare and other business applications. Samani advises others to cultivate existing relationships rather than placing all of your energy into seeking out new ones. He explains, “I find that conferences are a phenomenal opportunity to build out one’s network, through very few people take advantage of serendipitous opportunities at conferences.” Depending on the number of individuals he actually knows at any given conference, he says “I can spend 10 to 50 percent of my time cultivating existing relationships.” It may seem counterintuitive to place a big emphasis on relationships that you already have, but the truth is two people who know one another can usually help each other more easily and make introductions to like-minded individuals that will expand the circle.

6. Cathie Black: Arrive early and leave early

A media executive and best-selling author, advisor and investor in digital startups, Cathie Black is the former chairman of Hearst Magazines and was listed among the “Most Powerful Women in Business” by Forbes. Her preternatural gift for networking is buoyed by fundamental approach that says you should always arrive early and leave early. “Being early at events is much better than being late. If you arrive late, the room will likely be jammed, but if you arrive early, you and station yourself close to the entrance, see who is coming in, and go right up and say hello to anyone you’re interested in talking to.” She advises that it is awkward to be one of the remaining individuals who linger when most of the attendees have moved on, and leaving early makes you appear to be in control.

7. Neil Patel: Don’t judge a book by its cover

A New York Times best-selling author who helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue, Neil Patel is considered one of the top influencers on the web. Recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama, Patel was also named one of the top young business people by the United Nations. He tells aspiring prodigies like himself to never judge anyone too quickly “because you don’t know who is going to be the next Bill Gates.” So whether you’re networking with a Wharton MBA or an unemployed guy who is hitting you up for a ride to the bus station, you should always take the time to listen and respond thoughtfully to everyone. In particular, don’t dismiss people because they seem too young to know things: “You will soon realize that they have tons of experience under their belt.”

By doing these things, you will increase your chances of networking success and make the year ahead one to remember!