10 habits of expert networkers

We know, we know. You hate networking. But it isn’t so terrible when you see strangers as potential friends and try to make a genuine connection.

I’ve noticed that the world’s best connectors do things similarly.

We all know the people who meet others with ease, always seem to have the influencers in their corner and are constantly surrounded by passionate and inspiring people.

Whether they know it or not, these people all follow a certain set of habits. Let these habits serve as a guide for how to approach the people around you. Without these people, you’re nowhere. With them, anything’s possible.

Here are the 10 habits of people who can connect with anyone:

1. Smile.

This is by far the fastest way to create a connection. It’s also a powerful show of confidence, which people respect and are drawn to. Smiles are contagious, and the simple act of smiling makes people feel better. Whether you’re approaching a close friend, a bus driver, someone you’re dying to meet or a room full of strangers, there is no stronger opener.

2. See friends, not strangers.

When you walk into a room, don’t see the new people as strangers, but friends you have yet to meet. You see the world in a more similar way to others than you probably realize—especially if you’re at the same event or part of the same communities. Approach accordingly.

3. Make friends.

This is the foundation. Making genuine connections is nothing more than making friends. When you’re about to approach someone, ask yourself how you would treat this person if she was your close friend, or someone you wanted to be a close friend.

You put friends first. You listen to them. You hear their problems so you can help in any way you can. Act accordingly.

4. Be genuine.

If you’re connecting just because you want to move up the ladder, you’ve already lost. There is only one type of connection—one you genuinely care about. Find someone you actually care to meet and want to get to know. Anything else is a waste of time.

5. Contribute.

Meeting people is about making their lives better. Whether you give them a smile, a new job or anything in between, there is a way to help everyone. Give like crazy, embrace generosity and make others more successful.

6. Pay attention.

The easiest way to be interesting is to be interested. Be excited about what you can learn from others. Hear what they say. Listen and learn about what matters to them not so you can say something back as soon as possible, but so you can peek into their worlds. People want to tell their stories. Be the person who is excited to hear them.

7. Make people a priority.

There is no more important task than surrounding yourself with the right people. It’s part of every day, not something we do for an hour every week or two. It’s a way of life.

8. Be open to conversation.

Embrace conversations with those around you. Everyone has something to offer, whether he is your server or the guy next to you on a plane. Even if you went to the coffee shop to read a book, realize the best part of your day might be learning about the person next to you.

9. Know who you are and who you want in your life.

Know your passions, goals, talents, interests and the impact you want to have on the world. This will serve as your guiding light for how you can help and who you want to write into your story. Act with intention.

10. Be you.

Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Don’t try to look and sound like someone else, and don’t hold back. Be vulnerable and open. Share your real story and goals. Tell others about your wife, kids and parenting struggles. Talking about the weather doesn’t build connections—being real does.

Remember that every maverick has a home team offering advice and encouragement, and every game changer has an inner circle of support. Yours is waiting.

Scott Dinsmore is an entrepreneur, career change strategist, travel photographer, ultra-runner and founder of Live Your Legend, a business and international community dedicated to helping you build a career around work that genuinely excites you – and surround yourself with the people who make it possible. The Live Your Legend Community’s LOCAL event sites are non-commercial gatherings happening on January 7 in 140 cities in 44 countries around the U.S. and the world. Locations are available here.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

A version of this article originally appeared on the author’s blog.


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