With the markets (job & product) becoming tougher, people are spending increasing amounts of time trying to advance the ball. If you are wishing that you had a larger network to work off of (don't we all…), I came across an interesting post on "4 Rules". Jimmy Gardner, in a TECH cocktail piece, expanded on a post by Andrew Hoag in GigaOm "A First Timer's Tips to Networking" (so basically, I am providing no value add by two degrees of separation…). In particular, focus on #4. As times get harder, people tend to think of themselves and their own issues. They get very insular very quickly and end up feeling isolated and frustrated. Looking up every once and a while and seeing how you can help others or lend a hand will not only possibly take your mind off your own issues, but might even start the ol' Karma wheel spinning. Jimmy's Networking comments:
Ok I admit it, you probably have the same story, but at some event you see someone who acts a little odd, looks a little different and you may tend to shy away. But think about something, that may be the founder of the next big thing. And in talking with them and taking a few seconds to get to know them could lead you places you may have never envisioned.
2. Be genuine.
Dont give people anything but who you are. They see through the facade much easier and faster than you would ever imagine.
3. Be patient.
You probably are not going to make that blockbuster deal right there after the intro over a cocktail. Just follow the other rules here and then see how things go. After events I go home, take all the business cards I have gathered and enter them into some for of CRM, like Higherise form the 37 Signals guys. I also note how and when I met them and what they do as best I can remember. I also take a minute to give a quick hello/follow up email to them. It keeps the dialogue going and you never know were that continued dialogue can take you.
4. Give before you get.
I have heard this a lot and try to follow it to a tee. People dont want someone to walk up introduce themselves and start in on everything they have going on. As in #3, be patient in the moment, and get to know the other person. See what they have going on and ask questions. It will come back around to you, trust me.