Meeting new people is uncomfortable.
I get it. Seriously, I do.
You have to force yourself to open up to a complete stranger when you have no clue what their intentions are… So you’re potentially making yourself vulnerable to being taken advantage of… and that’s terrifying.
That’s what you start thinking when you hear the word networking….
Your thoughts influence your feelings, your feelings influence your action and your actions influence your results.
That means if you’re already opposed to meeting new people, you’ll have negative feelings towards building relationships, which means that you won’t do it and as a result, your will be smaller and you won’t have the powerful network you need to reach your goals.
To make it worse, our culture encourages us to restrict our feelings, act like we don’t care, keep our friends close and forget about everyone else.
The people closest to us are what we call strong ties — these are our friends, family and coworkers. They likely do the same things that we do, have similar networks to us, talk the way that we do and think the same way that we do. That’s what it’s all about, right?
Firstly, by only interacting with your closest friends and family, you’re adopting the mindset of the poor.
While I was doing research for this, I came across an article that says, “economic uncertainty also leads to the search for contingencies and poorer people invest far more in building multiple strong ties who will directly help them if they are in difficulty. However this may serve to anchor their status further and reduce the chance of upward social mobility. Upper class people are more relaxed about weak ties and so tend to have more. However, they have to resort to expensive clubs and other filtering mechanisms to find ‘people like them’ with whom they can build stronger ties. The modern approach to business networking is based on the principle of weak ties: having a wide range of acquaintances can be far more helpful than having just a few good friends.”
They say that you’ll be the same person five years from now that you are today except for the books that you read and the people you meet — your acquaintances (also known as weak ties) encourage you to meet new people who you wouldn’t have met otherwise and they share stories and perspectives that push you to think bigger and they create opportunities for you to think differently. With these new perspectives, you’ll start to see yourself become more dynamic and innovative.
Now you’re probably like ok, ok… I get it. I need to build relationships with more than just my friends… But where do I start?
With your weak ties!
You know… Those acquaintances who you might like their posts on social media but probably don’t speak to if you see them in person for fear that the won’t recognize you? Yea, them.
The sad reality is that most people only reach out to their weak ties when they need something….
“Hey, I just created a YouTube channel — can you go subscribe for me?”
My thoughts: how about no? I’ve talked to you once in my life.
“Hey, I’m having an event for ___ and I see what you’re doing with ypTRIBE so I wanted to invite you”
My thoughts: Ok, so why have I never seen or heard from you in my life ever? If you love what we’re doing, why haven’t you been to an event?
If I had a dollar for every time someone did this, I would be rich.
They’re asking before they’ve ever built rapport or given anything first — they haven’t earned the right to ask for anything in return.
You may have heard of the golden rule (treat others the way you want to be treated), the platinum rule (treat others the way they want to be treated)… Let me introduce you to the diamond rule (give 10x more than you’ll ever need to ask for).
When you focus on giving more, people will jump at the opportunity to help you.
The people who ask for favors that I have a relationship with will get whatever they ask for from me plus some. I’ll go above and beyond to help them. Not only do I subscribe to their channel, I’ll share it, talk about it and give feedback.
The more you give, the more you get.
Now, the challenge that most people run into is finding ways to keep in touch with their networks. you may run into is finding a genuine way to keep in touch with them that doesn’t take a ton of time or effort.
HOW TO INTERACT WITH YOUR WEAK TIES
It’s no secret that social media is an incredible tool. Regardless of what social media platform you decide to use, there is a way to keep in touch with your network. I’m not talking about posting stuff or simply liking their posts — that’s shallow and ingenuine. You want to look for ways to interact with them in a meaningful way.
Facebook is incredible because it feels like friends, not just business. Firstly, instead of posting ‘happy birthday’ on their wall, send them a message and leave it with a question that requires an answer longer than two words. My favorite is ‘happy birthday, any special plans?’ It’s a non-threatening approach and gives a ton of room for them to respond in a friendly way. Another quick and easy way to interact with people is to use the green light — whenever someone is online, their name will have a little green button next to it (it’s in messages on mobile or the sidebar on desktop). A quick ‘hey, long time no talk! How are things going?’ Will go a long way. The key here is that you have to actually care about their response enough to make it a conversation. Nothing feels worse than opening up, having your message read and then not getting a response — it feels like the other person only checked in because they had to or because they wanted something from you.
LinkedIn is designed for interaction — and yet I find that most people add, add, add but never actually interact. When someone adds you on LinkedIn, send them a message and ask a super simple, non-probing question to start the conversation. Something as simple as ‘thanks for the add! Just a quick question I ask everyone on LinkedIn, how do you like your coffee?’ I love this approach because there are so many people on LinkedIn who are trying so hard to sell you something — this lets you show your personality. Second, LinkedIn does a great job of letting you know when someone has made a life change and gives you the perfect opportunity to interact. When someone celebrates a job anniversary, job change, or promotion, celebrate with them. A simple congratulations isn’t going to cut it though — give them a reason to continue the conversation… Guess what you’re going to do? Ask a question!
Something to keep in mind here — keep the questions friendly without being flirtatious or too deep and make sure the introductions stay semi-formal until you have some rapport. You definitely don’t have to refer to everyone as Mr. or Mrs., but at least call them by name. (True story, I’ve gotten a few messages on LinkedIn like “hey beautiful, how was your weekend?” ON LINKEDIN!) Say whaaaaa?!? Do they even know how LinkedIn is supposed to work or what it’s for?!?!?!
Twitter is awesome because it’s so concise. If there’s someone that you like, don’t just retweet it — quote it and add your thoughts. When you RT someone, it’s like standing up to clap for them after a great one-liner. Quoting the tweet and adding your thoughts is the start of a great conversation. They may just respond with a ‘thanks for sharing’, but this is about building a relationship over time, not a one night stand. If you follow any bloggers and you share their articles, make sure that you mention them in the tweet and add why you’re sharing it.
Snapchat is super simple… If someone posts something that’s interesting, reply! Think about all of the times that you’ve posted something that you thought was brilliant, only to get no feedback on it. Letting someone know your thoughts on their snaps doesn’t make you thirsty (so long as you’re not only responding to half-naked pictures, just sayin’).
Instagram is all about beautiful images — and engagement. Don’t just like their pictures — especially if they leave a caption that asks for engagement, engage! Shallow comments like ‘beautiful [insert favorite emoji here]’ make you a fan, not a friend. Add some useful insight into your comments.
I also recognize that Pinterest is gaining in popularity, however Pinterest is awesome for increasing traffic to a website or showing your specialty in a specific field, but isn’t ideal for building relationships.
The idea here is to create a conversation, not just get noticed. All of these can actually apply to dating too, just throwing that out there. Liking every post or picture might boost the ego of the person who’s posts you’re liking but they’re only going to see you as a fan. If you make a habit of interacting with 3-5 people per day on the social media sites that you consistently use and interact with those people in a way that is genuine and authentic, your own engagement will grow and you’ll start to build your online community.
Seem overwhelming? It can be if you don’t have a great system in place.
SYSTEMIZING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA INTERACTIONS
Now I’m not saying that you need to interact with every single weak tie because that would be exhausting. Get strategic!
MAKE YOUR LISTS
Make a list of the people you want to build relationships with (and add them to your lists on Facebook and Twitter)
Making this list on Facebook and Twitter is super important because social media algorithms only show you the content that they think is relevant to you. That means you’re missing great opportunities to connect with your weak ties that you didn’t even know you were missing. Lists make sure that you see the posts from the people on it in real-time rather than the filtered feed that your timeline gives you. This might take you an hour or so at first, but once it’s done, you don’t have to worry about doing it again.
On Facebook, comment on 5 posts, like 5 posts and send 5 messages. On Twitter, you can retweet 5 tweets (with your added insights) and if you find an opportunity to connect, send a direct message. The key here is to make sure that you’re only interacting on posts that you want to be associated with — this is important because your friends can see what you’re liking and commenting on — plus, the more you interact with these people, the more you’re going to see of them.
If this all seems overwhelming, I’ve created a video tutorial and worksheet that will walk you through the process of making your lists so that you can start doing the 5x5x5.