Meeting new people is tough. It’s something that many people dread. When some of us attend mixers and events, we get butterflies in our stomachs, we fumble over our words, or we don’t end up having a conversation with anyone.
Whenever you go anywhere, you don’t really know whom you will end up meeting or their standing. Is it someone successful or someone soon to be famous? No matter what situation you are in, building quality relationships increases your ability to achieve success.
I reached out to Sar Haribhakti, because I’m impressed by the prominent network he has built at such a young age (21), and asked if he could provide some insights for me. He asked if he could collaborate with three other Millennials on this. I agreed.
Ultimately, we came up with these 4 tips on how to connect with anyone, no matter how successful the person is:
1. Anybody can be somebody
Mina Salib, founder at Usspire says, “To connect with anyone, you must respect everyone.” Particularly in a metropolitan hub, such as New York City, it is important to understand a very simple concept, he says, “Anybody can be somebody.”
Regardless of your preconceived notions concerning appearance or demeanor, it is essential to give every person respect and attention when in their presence. You could coincidentally be standing next to an individual who has the ability to change your life, but, as a result of overlooking the said person, lose your opportunity.
For example, Salib attended a fashion show about a year ago, and sat next to someone who he thought looked like the epitome of average. He was dressed in regular jeans and a white T-shirt. Prejudging his looks, Mina never initiated a conversation with him; it just didn’t seem necessary.
The man wasn’t dressed up nor chatting with the models like everyone else. However, Salib regretted that moment once the man stepped onstage and introduced himself as the famous shoe designer Steve Madden.
2. The answer is always no if you do not ask
Marisa Sergi, founder of RedHead Wine, says, “If you are truly passionate about an idea, and you know someone who has similar passions and interests, do not be afraid to reach out.”
Sergi enjoys encouraging others while embracing the motto: The answer is always no if you do not ask. By taking this perspective, her opportunities to reach goals increase substantially. Even if she receives a no, she still can still build a relationship.
Be fearless when reaching out for advice or feedback. You can start by learning about the person you wish to reach out to, especially his or her area of expertise and experiences. In Sergi’s case, she developed RedHead and her award-winning business plan using advice from friends, colleagues, professors, and even her parents. All sources are game on!
3. Learn what people really care about
Michelle Finizio, associate at XRC Labs, says, “Meaningful relationships are not one-and-done scenarios. They are an investment. The more you put in, the more you pull out. It’s such a basic concept, yet so often overlooked. In an increasingly fast-paced world, it is easy to forget to take the time to invest in relationships that you have already established.”
A few years ago, Finizio was on a plane to New York City and found herself sitting next to Simon Sinek. Not the Sinek of today–a leading TED speaker and best-selling author–no, this was the Sinek who had nothing but a newly published book and a unique spin on vision and passion. Naturally, Finizio went into her relationship discovery question process by asking him basic questions about where he was from and his work and interests.
Those basic questions turned into two hours of ever deeper questions. She left that flight entertained, but with no expectation of seeing him again, like other “flight friends.” Sinek was different though. He reached out to Finizio, and her to him. Five years later, Sinek has not only helped Finizio define her personal vision but also opened his world to her.
By including Sinek in emotionally challenging decisions, Finizio has built a deep, long-lasting relationship with him. The trick is to let someone know you as a human, to go beyond the surface of work or day-to-day activities. That’s how people get to know what’s in your heart and how they ultimately show you what’s in theirs.
4. Do things that don’t scale
Sar Haribhakti, Huffington Post writer and founder of Lapiz Lazooli, says, “Have an entrepreneurial mindset for connecting with others. Successful entrepreneurs provide value by fixing problems. Successful relationship builders figure out ways to serve others to make their lives simpler.
“Founders value every single user through quality assurance and personally addressing customer feedback. Networkers value every single person individually. Think twice before taking someone for granted.
“For instance, if you find yourself sending the same email to 20 people concerning an internship, you are setting yourself up to become a parasitical networker. Let’s say you type a message. Now, in place of the intended recipient, put the name of someone else in the same industry. Does the message still make sense for the most part? If so, you do not value that relationship enough.
“Founders hustle to create opportunities to get their products noticed. Real networkers hustle to create an environment to nurture relationships. You have to hustle to get someone’s foot in the door. It sounds counterintuitive, but it works in the long haul.
“Do entrepreneurs make multimillion-dollar companies by simply incorporating their entities? Similarly, building authentic relationships takes a lot more than an email or business card.
“In this startup era, entrepreneurs constantly innovate to beat the competition. Similarly, you need to constantly add value to someone to differentiate yourself. This goes well beyond a retweet, a coffee meeting, or a FB share.
“Think Richard Branson created his empire by putting his interests above his customers’? He did not. Similarly, you cannot build your network by leveraging others for your agenda.
“Google, Apple, and Facebook were built on sustainable models and long-term commitment. Meaningful networks are built on the same pillars.
Invest in people more than you do in real estate, cars, and stocks. Do things that don’t scale to hit it off with people you genuinely want to build relationships with.”
Have you been able to connect with anyone influential? Have you missed out on some solid networking opportunities? I’d love to hear more about the situation. Comment below!
Originally posted on Inc.
Leonard Kim is Managing Partner at InfluenceTree. At InfluenceTree, Leonard and his team teach you how to build your (personal or business) brand, get featured in publications and growth hack your social media following.