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TECHNEWS · Thursday, August 4, 2022

4 Keys to Successful Networking

Kimberly Wiefling, TVLP's long-term faculty member, and Jeff Richardson share the keys to successful networking. Explore it and apply!

Networking is a powerful tool for developing a new business and professional career. How to do it effectively? We condensed our long-term experience training international entrepreneurs and leaders that arrive in Silicon Valley from all over the world into a recipe of 4 keys to success.

1. Be Interested

What's the difference between being interested and being interesting? It's where you put the focus of your attention. Focusing more on the other person will help you learn more, build trust faster and be more memorable. Networking is more about making a good first impression than "selling yourself." It's easy to miss out on crucial information that someone shares if you're focused on thinking about what to say next. People will know you are interested in them by paying attention to how they introduce themselves, repeating key information to show you're listening, asking questions to discover areas of common interest, and looking for ways to add value.

2. Concise Communication

Time is valuable. Demonstrate this to others by how you utilize time during your short discussion. Keep your comments short and simple, so it's easier for people to remember (and easier for you to prepare). There will be more time to dive into deeper conversations later on with the few people you want to develop relationships with. Focus during your networking time on creating enough interest that the other person wants to follow up for a short meeting/call to learn more. Being efficient with your time allows you to meet more of the right people in less time.

3. Initiating Meaningful Conversations

I've always found it easier to ask a question than to answer it. I've always found asking a question easier than answering it. That's why I show up with a short list of questions to ask that get people talking about areas of common interest. Starting a conversation is less stressful now that I know what I will say first. Most people ask you the same question after they have replied, so you can prepare in advance and be ready with confidence. Be concise with your answers and continue to ask thought-provoking questions to keep the conversation moving effortlessly back and forth, just like a game of tennis. I tend to skip the small talk and get to topics that are relevant to the event/situation and draw out the person's interests and/or needs. Stand out by being the person who starts interesting conversations. Shifting the conversation towards areas of common interest using follow-on questions will give you more to talk about during your follow-up meeting/call.

4. Commit to Adding Value

The secret to successful networking is to give something of value so you'll be remembered and respected! This builds off the concept of 'reciprocity' - people tend to return a favor - to develop a strong professional network. Carefully listen for areas of interest and/or need to discover ways you can be helpful to this person. In-the-moment actions are the most impactful and memorable. Even small actions can have big results if they address a specific interest of the other person. Build trust by committing to follow up, then delivering on that promise. Demonstrating reliability is essential in developing new networking relationships.

A few concepts and strategies to help you succeed in any social situation are:
  • Building Confidence - Overcoming fear (English proficiency NOT required)
  • Making a Positive First Impression - Essentials of human interaction and etiquette
  • Breaking into/out of a Group - overcoming the biggest conversation challenge
  • Adapting to Different Environments - Observe, learn and change based on the situation
  • Learning from Feedback - Continuously improve through feedback from yourself and others

Kimberly Wiefling in collaboration with Jeff Richardson

If you’re interested in this topic, Kimberly Wiefling currently teaches the class “Doing Business and Networking in Silicon Valley” as part of the Raising Capital Program at the TVLP Institute. Ms. Wiefling has helped a large number of companies in Asia, especially in Japan, and Europe in improving their teams. As an author, she published the well-recognized books of the series of five "Scrappy Guides." 

Ph. Credit: Unsplash.

Application deadline in a few days