Why faking it until you make it is horrible networking advice.

When I first started my networking journey,  I constantly heard, Fake it until you make it, Fake it until you make it.  I’m sure the people who were telling me this had good intentions. The theory is that if you dress and act the way you plan to dress and act after you actually make it, somehow the transformation would actually occur.

Unfortunately, that’s like painting your turkey brown so it looks like it’s done before it even goes into the oven. While that sounds ridiculous, it’s not to far from what you are doing when you fake a level of success that you haven’t actually achieved.

It’s All About The Process

Here’s the thing.  Success is a journey, not a destination. When you try to rush things to become successful faster, you ultimately end up losing.  Remember one of the key markers of networking success are the relationships you gain and grow along the way.

The way to gain and grow those relationships is by being your authentic self while you go about your networking. When you try to pretend to be someone else you risk running people away with your pretentiousness. Or worse, you get stuck with a persona that you can no longer change because people have accepted this version of you.  If you start over you must start networking at the beginning again.

I know it’s tempting to pretend to be someone you’re not.  Fitting in is part of our culture. However, according to sociologist Brene’ Brown, attempting to fit in is actually one of the worst things we can do.  If you show up as your real self, and someone doesn’t like you, you can say ok, your loss. However, if you jump through hoops and change your personality to please someone else and they still don’t like you that is much more painful.

Tell The Truth, Even If It Costs You

If you are in a book club and you don’t like the book, you should feel free to tell the group the truth even if everyone else has a different opinion.  The number one reason people don’t speak up about their true feelings is because of an innate reluctance to place value on our thoughts and opinions. You have to come to believe that your thoughts and opinions are just as valuable as anyone else’s. 

Think about this.  Every group you’ve ever been a part of, large or small, started with just one person. That person then went about sharing his or her idea until others, like yourself, also joined.  Sometimes we talk ourselves out of starting our own group. We believe that we don’t have enough charisma or courage to get people to follow us. Hogwash!!

When you show up as your authentic self consistently every time you go out networking, you’ll be surprised at the number of people who will approach you and tell you that your words speak to them directly.

18 Things Nobody Ever Told You About Networking

Many of us desire to become a better networker, however nobody every tells us how to do it. Or worse the advice we are given is dead wrong. Here are 18 tips you can use to guide you on the path to becoming a better networker.

  1. The Size Of Your Network Doesn’t Matter

It’s a common misconception that the larger your network is, the better networker you must be. The reality is much different. Your network is not only measured in how many people you know, but how well you know them multiplied by how many people they can connect you with. Simply exchanging business cards with hundreds of people does you little good unless the people who have your cards are willing and able to help you reach your goals.

2. Weak Links Are Actually More Valuable Than Strong Links

A strong tie is someone who you know well. You’ve got their number on your phone and you interact with them frequently. You know them pretty well and information flows freely. Very soon you know the same people and information. A weak tie is someone you interact with infrequently and only casually. Counter-intuitively, the weak tie can be a better source of information because they have access to different information and a broader network than people you spend a lot of time with.

3. The People In Your Network Can Affect Your Weight

One of the big health news stories of 2007 was a study showing that your friends influence the size of your waist (and the rest of your body). The study was based on the idea that loved ones share social norms, the implicit cultural beliefs that make some things okay, others not. If all of your friends pass on dessert you’re more likely to pass as well, and vice-versa.

4. The Most Important Side Of Your Business Card Is The Back

The most valuable purpose for a business card is actually to take notes during the conversation. You can also use the back of the card to simply write down the name and number of a contact that has run out of cards.

5. Your Face Will Give Away Your Internal State So Stop Faking

When emotions occur and there is no reason for them to be modified or concealed, expressions typically last between 0.5 to 4 seconds and involve your entire face. These are called Macroexpressions. Microexpressions, however, are signs of concealed emotions, and go on and off the face so fast that if you blink you would miss them. Although you are not consciously aware of showing these Microexpressions, they are there anyway and the listener can pick up on them even if they can’t describe it. They will feel something in their “gut” that will warn them not to trust you. One fast way to become a better networker is to get a handle on your internal state before you go out networking.

6. There Are 10 Different Types Of Smiles

  1. Reward smiles.
  2. Affiliative smiles.
  3. Dominance smiles.
  4. The lying smile.
  5. The wistful smile.
  6. The polite smile.
  7. The flirtatious smile.
  8. The embarrassed smile.
  9. The Pan Am Smile
  10. The Duchenne Smile

7. Introversion or Extroversion Has Little To Do With Networking

The psychological types of introvert/extrovert are not ways to define how well you connect, just a way to describe how you get energized. As a matter of fact, research shows that an introvert can be a much better networker due to their ability to listen and connect. While introverts do not pride themselves on having hundreds of contacts in their phones, they can rest comfortably on the depth of the connections that they do have.

8. You Can Become More Confident By Standing Differently

Amy Cuddy at TED2014 – The Next Chapter, March 17-21, 2014, All-Stars Session 3, Vancouver Convention Center, Vancouver, Canada. Photo: Bret Hartman

You can adopt a “Power Pose” when talking with someone to make you feel more confident. You can also stand for several moments with your hand raised as if you just won something to generate a sense of internal accomplishment.

9. Being Vulnerable Will Make You A Better Networker

True connection. the essence of networking is impossible without becoming vulnerable. How can you call someone your friend if you do not know the basic of their lives. How many children do they have, what are their ages, what are their dreams, how do they like their job? Asking these questions requires you to be vulnerable first. People generally don’t share much with people who don’t reciprocate.

10. Shame And Embarrassment Are Very Different In An Important Way

One major blocker to becoming a better networker is shame. If you are afraid of being shamed, you will have trouble showing up fully. The key here is to understand the difference between shame and embarrassement. When you are ashamed your self talk is “I suck”, when you are embarrassed, your self talk is “They think I suck”. Unless you are a mind reader, you have no idea what others are really thinking. Fix your “Self Talk” and you will find that you will be better able to deal with people in public.

11. You Must Like Yourself First Before Others Will Like You

Believe it or not, the way you feel about yourself affects the way others feel about you. You have to forgive yourself for your flaws and understand that others have the same flaws you do. Forgiveness is the start of healing. Once you are healed from the things you don’t like about yourself, you will begin to find others being drawn to you.

12. Curiosity May Have Killed The Cat, But Its Like CPR To Conversation

As Lisa Nichols say, you must be Care-ful when building relationships. You have to be full of care, and actually care about people. When you really care, you ask questions and you listen. Become curious about other lives and remember that you have two ears and one mouth.

13. Tying Shoes, Jumping Rope and Handshakes Need Both Hands

Use both hands when you shake hands. When you use both hands, you are putting more effort in the handshake than others. … This gesture is the same exactly as shaking hands with one hand while touching the person with the other hand. The only difference is that the later is even more intimate and communicates stronger emotions. However, don’t make the person feel trapped by your grip, use your left hand to lightly touch the other persons forearm or shoulder.

14. You Can Manage 150 Simultaneous Social Relationships In Your Head

According to British Anthropologist Robin Dunbar, humans have the ability to manage up to 150 social relationships in our heads. This means you should be able to maintain ongoing conversations with dozens of people simultaneously. Most of us fall far short of this limit and only talk with the same few people over and over.

15. How To Maintain Eye Contact Without Staring

You can use the triangle gaze to maintain eye contact with someone you are conversing with without appearing to stare. This is how it works. First look into the persons right eye for a few seconds, then look at their left eye for a few seconds, then look at their mouth for a few seconds. Repeat. By doing this consciously you will become a better listeners and the other person will feel that you are engaged.

16. We Decide Whether We Like Someone Before We Hear Them Speak

You may have hear that 90% of our communication is non-verbal. This is true. Our brains are trained to make snap judgements about people quickly. We can tell in a split second someones mood, status, friendliness, etc. Of course our snap judgements may be completely wrong as Malcolm Gladwell explains in his book “Talking To Strangers”, yet we relay on these judgements as conversational clues. Remember that fact as you go about your networking activities. Remember to smile and dress appropriately as these are some of the clues people use to make snap judgements about you as well.

17. Why You Shouldn’t Tell Anyone Your Name Until They Ask

Because no one cares. Mary, Tom, Jack, Ray are simply words that convey little meaning and will not be memorable at all at the end of the conversation. Now you are forcing someone to awkwardly ask “So what was your name again?”after you’ve just had a 20 minute conversation. A better tactic is to have the conversation first. If the person asks your name at some point during the conversation, then they are likely to want to continue the conversation at a later point..

18. Elevator Pitches Don’t Work. Tell An Interesting Story Instead

Have you ever had somebody give you an elevator pitch? “My name is ______ My product is _____ We do _______ for _______. Here is my card.” How does that make you feel, like they are trying to connect with you , or simply trying to make a sale? Most likely the latter. A better way to become memorable is to share your unique story.

4 Reasons Why Introverts Make Better Networkers

From the moment you clicked open that invitation to the evening networking wine and cheese reception you could feel the battle inside. The introvert within you would rather escape home to the couch and that mystery you just can’t put down. But the entrepreneur inside you knows networking is one of the components to building a successful business. The good news is that the introvert and the entrepreneur can attend that networking event together and own the room better than any of the extroverts there.

Author Susan Cain’s TED Talk about introverts has been viewed more than 20 million times. In it she says one-third to one-half of the population is introverted just like she is, and that introverts have extraordinary gifts and talents to bring to the world, even if it is sometimes hard to hear them over the extroverts. Extroverts gain energy from social interaction including networking events while introverts focus on internal feelings and spending time alone to reflect on and process things they have seen and heard. Being an introvert is not the same thing as being shy, and it’s a myth that introverts are socially awkward. That’s why you’ll find introverts at networking events. They have four key strengths that allow them to excel at making contacts and building relationships.

Introverts are the Best Listeners

While the extroverts are talking, the introverts are doing a good job of listening. Experts describe introverts as active listeners. They hear what the other person is saying, they process it internally to understand it and then they will respond. They are not likely to interrupt someone who is talking or turn the situation around and make it about them. If an introvert takes an extra second or to to respond to something it is because they are thinking it through first.

Introverts are Excellent Observers

Introverts aren’t just good listeners, they are also excellent observers. While they are quietly listening to someone else they are also watching for all the little details. Group dynamics and body language are some of the little things that just don’t get past an introvert. That makes them more likely to process everything they have seen and heard in a situation and come out with a big-picture view.

Introverts Build Meaningful One-on-One Relationships

Being a part of a large group can make an introvert queasy, but it’s myth that introverts dislike people. They just dislike people in large and loud numbers. At a networking event you won’t find an introvert standing in the middle of a circle looking for the spotlight. You’ll find them on the edges of the circle looking for one person they can connect with and share thoughts and ideas. For an introvert meaningful conversation beats shallow socializing every time.

Introverts Prefer a Small Circle of Excellent Contacts

While an introvert may collect a stack of business cards at an event, the search is really on for just a few, valuable contacts.

Author, speaker, blogger and introvert James Altucher, says a powerful networking technique for him is making introductions between people who may benefit each other, but letting them know they don’t have to keep him posted on how things turn out. Altucher says the people he introduced never forget that he was the one that put them together, and he has gained a reputation for being able to create winning combinations.

Building a successful business means building and managing relationships. Everything happens through other people and being authentic, generous and consistent in those relationships serves you well in your professional and your personal life. Understanding your own personality traits and recognizing the traits of others is a useful tool in understanding your dynamics with people.

Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Jung proposed and developed the personality theory concept that there are introverts and extroverts. But he maintained that no one is strictly an introvert or extrovert. Each person falls somewhere on the scale with more tendencies one way or the other.

Microsoft Founder Bill Gates, Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Director/Producer Steven Spielberg, Billionaire Warren Buffet and former President Barack Obama all identify themselves as introverts. Their success wasn’t held back because they are introverts. Instead they were propelled forward by listening, observing, processing and building relationships that mattered.