I was once asked:

Everyone tells you to network. Are there any new strategies for networking that actually work and don’t make you feel like a loser always trying to sell yourself?

First, I argue that networking is not for everyone, and there are many other ways to attract business. So, just because “everyone” tells you to network does not necessarily mean it is a good use of your time.

Second, I don’t think there are any new strategies. I think the old ones work.

I have never enjoyed going to what would be described as “networking” events because the perception of every one there is you are trying to sell yourself.

I remember speaking at a construction law conference several years ago. After I spoke I was surrounded by people. None of them were clients or potential clients. Instead they were all consultants trying to convince me to hire them to help on two big cases they knew I was handling. I never attended that annual conference when I was not asked to be a speaker.

I think the strategy for networking is to build trust, rapport and find common interests. You need to genuinely focus on the person you are speaking to at the time. Ask good questions (ones you have given thought to before you arrived) and then actively listen. When you part, make sure to call the person by his or her name. Finally, find some meaningful way to follow up with the person you met.

Experts tell us we will be quickly judged and you want to show you are sincere very quickly. There are many books written on this subject. If you want any titles of ones I like, send me an email.