Throughout social media week, I attended north of 20 events at  places all over Toronto.   I love exploring new cities; walking and street-caring made it pretty easy to get my bearings.  Transiting from event to event allowed me to fully experience the city of Toronto in all its grandeur. After five days, I feel that I know the city pretty well. I learned a ton, what I want to touch on today is networking.

Networking Gains

Through experimentation with “networking” over the last month or so, I am starting to figure it out. Practice makes progression (perfection is a fallacy). I’ve found through a lot of trial (and error) that I no longer have that same level of apprehension to approach people, whether it be an acquaintance or stranger. Social media week was the perfect medium to meet people. I met some awesome people in the process and even made a few friends.

See what works for me below.

Find a way in

The way to approach someone you seek to network with is to establish some common ground. This should be easy if they share a similar vocation or hobby. If time allows, I will quickly research via twitter.  Profile and tweets are a good way to gauge personality but their pictures are even better. This literally takes one minute.

In my case, I have no problem approaching strangers at Social Media Week because we all share a common interest. I’ve found that people are very receptive to help, all you have to do is gather the courage to initiate.

What is your motive?

Something to ponder before you  approach. What are you looking to get out of the conversation?  For me, I am hoping to learn from my peers about how they got started in the social industry. What is there story? I honestly believe that everyone is unique and has an amazing story to share.

Ask Questions.

This is where Seth Rogen comes in.  Once you have found some common ground to initiate a conversation, start picking their brain with relevant questions. Whether it is about where they work, what education they have or how they got started in the industry. If you are genuinely interested in talking to someone, these questions should come easily.

Share your story.

People love talking about themselves; it makes them feel all warm and fuzzy. Once a connection is established, don’t be afraid to tell your story. What are you doing currently? Where have you been and where are you going?  Sharing a bit about yourself takes the engagement to another level.

Nothing to Lose!

I ask myself: what is the worst that could happen? We are hard-wired to develop relationships in order to build our proverbial tribe. Remember this. People are inherently friendly. A smile and eye contact go a long way.

Two way street

It is not all about you. Think how you can help them. Networking is about mutual understanding and benefit.