When it comes to meeting new people for business, there’s networking, and then there’s networking. As the italics would lead you to believe, the latter networking has style and swag, and nothing keeps things classier than old school moves that show others that online social media hasn’t destroyed your manners when it comes being social in the business world. Nothing is more baller than a young person who handles business like Warren Buffett, right? Here are five networking strategies that young entrepreneurs really need to bring back into style today.
1. Write hand-written notes.
Especially in the digital age, many young business people have lost the art of handwriting personal notes. VCs might insist you send them emails or tweets and to keep them short, but when it comes to forming a solid and memorable connection, nothing does it better than a handwritten note. It shows you spent the time to think about them and to write it out, and it sticks in their mind longer. But here’s one important tip: be selective of who you send notes to. Sending notes to everyone cheapens the gesture and sets you on a path to becoming a networking whore, albeit and old school one.
2. Remember that networking is a give AND take deal.
If there’s one TV show that will teach you about business transactions and exchanging favors, House of Cards is your go-to. The Underwoods know how to make deals and the secret to their success is to always have something to trade BEFORE they ask for something. A lot of young entrepreneurs seem to believe in the “ask and you shall receive rule” and we end up living in a society where a lot of favors stay owed. It’s really not that hard. Maybe you know someone they want to meet. Offer to make an introduction. Here’s an even crazier idea- do them favors for nothing because you are generous and treat it like it’s nothing to show them how much of a boss you are. It’s like wearing a cologne of respect.
3. If you say “we’ll be in touch,” stay in touch.
If there’s one thing most young business people suck at, it’s keeping in touch with people who should matter to them. We all get that you are busy- we are all busy. You don’t need to write them daily emails or anything, but you do eat food right? Let’s take a lesson from Li Ka Shing; he’s pretty old but he’s the richest self-made man in Asia:
“Always remember to buy lunch for people who are more knowledgeable than you, richer than you or people who have helped you in your career. Make sure you do that every month. After one year, your circle of friends should have generated tremendous value for you. Your reputation, influence, and added value will be clearly recognized. You’ll also enhance your image of being kind and generous.”
4. Don’t just show your business card, show them off.
I was listening to a panel at a business event and some venture capitalists/founders suggested that business cards were actually dated with the advent of Googling and social media handles. I absolutely disagreed. Even if it reminds you of that scene from American Psycho, having a stylish business card is and always will be important. It’s something tangible that people can remember you by; it’s an extension of your creative and professional expression and it definitely beats saying “just find me on Twitter.” Uh, what was your name again? Ain’t no one got time for that. And like hand written notes, be selective about who you give them to.
5. Does anyone care to grab a drink anymore?
Okay, gone are the days of Mad Men styled drinking- it’s just too brutal on the liver. I’m not saying drink all day every day with clients and associates, but no one invites people out for a drink after work in the entrepreneurial scene. Everyone is too afraid of liability or not being able to handle one single drink. What ever happened to those one-on-one chill times at a nice lounge or a bar at a restaurant? It’s not the drinking that should grab your attention, it’s the gesture of being invited out for a relaxing time away from the stresses of work/ showing off how good you look in a suit. And do you know how hard it is to be an entrepreneur? You could probably use the drink.