The 3 best strategies to improve your networking and make you suck at life

three person handshake

You know you’re an expert-level networker when you have mastered the three person handshake…

It’s Friday evening so while some of us put on our lounging trousers and start some serious lounging, others might think ‘How can I use this weekend to further my career prospects.

If that’s you, maybe it’s time to work on an impressive sounding hobby for your CV. You might try yoga to show you’re disciplined, or distance running to show you commit. But if you’re after more direct business benefits – maybe you should try a spot of networking…

Both me and Steve have hated on networking in the past. Steve did it just this morning in fact. But that’s not to say it’s all bad stuff.

Sometimes networking teaches you life skills like good body language, listening to people and trying to be helpful. That’s all pretty good advice for most interactions you have. Sure, if you’re doing it to weasel your way into a promotion maybe that taints it a bit – but that doesn’t mean it’s bad advice.

The problem is that some networking strategies make you better at networking but make you far worse at being a person.

Here are my three favourites:

1) Get them to say yes three times 

Networker: So, do you like sports?

Networkee: Yes, I play a bit of tennis.

er: Were you pleased when Andy Murray won wimbledon?

ee: Yes it was great, did you watch it?

er: I did. Now tell me, is your favourite colour blue?

I bet the tension is killing you here. Because the theory goes that if Mrs Networker can get Mr Networkee to say yes one more time then she has him like putty in her hands. Or lego on her lego rug. Or some other thing that you can control. A lot is riding on whether ‘ee’ loves the colour blue…

Even if this is just trying to teach people to encourage positivity in conversations, I’m still not ok with it. Manipulating your questions to bring about certain answers might win a battle or two but it won’t win you any friends.

Unless you get them to say yes four times…  that’s a whole other story.

2) Arrive early – If you arrive early to networking events, you get to meet people before they’re too bored of networking. They might even be happy at that point in the evening.

If you arrive early to a non-networking event though, you get a mixture of confusion, anger and awkwardness. The perfect cocktail.

3) Make notes – So this tip says you should make notes after your conversations – you don’t want to forget the name of Important Man’s dog. That would be terrible.

This rule isn’t so bad really – unless you do it to stalker-like levels. It does, however, illustrate the whole issue I have with networking.

The reason you would take notes after a conversation is because a person is important to you from a business perspective. It’s not about who they are and it’s not a real friendship.

Real friends don’t take notes, everybody. That’s a rule I think. Expert level knowledge of my personal life might make me think you like me. It also might creep me out.

And if I catch you taking notes after we’ve talked about movies or something – you’ll be in trouble.

So that’s your three best networking tips there folks. They might help you get some money and they will definitely help you suck at life.

But let’s end on a hugely positive note. This is a picture of someone shaking hands with a fish’s head:


I love this photo with my whole heart.