Push Start Effective Networking

Networking is a magic weapon. If you mastered networking, you can basically sell anything. πŸ›ΈπŸ§‹πŸŒ»πŸš€πŸŒš

Most people don't understand how networking works. I didn't know how networking works until 2020. I found myself in situations where I need to get certain things done, but I didn't know how to make it happen without the right person. Very recently, I moved from LA to Austin to launch Gumdrop in UT Austin. I did not know anyone from UT Austin prior to my arrival. I found myself in a situation where I needed good local marketers and promotors but cannot find any. But I was lucky to have some very experienced "networking giants" around. Shout out to my friend, Yolanda, who guided me into the world of networking. Through constant & intentional effort, I expanded my network like crazy. From knowing nothing to today where I am doing tons of intros for the others, I concluded a lot of lessons about networking. To network effectively, I created a system. Hopefully, you will find it useful.

πŸ‘©πŸ»β€πŸ’»Content list:

  • Type of connections
  • What does networking look like overall?
  • General principles
  • How to keep track of everyone? (My personal networking system)

Types of connections:

  1. Close friends.πŸ‘« Connections who you consider as close friends. (I jump on calls with Yolanda at least twice a week. I visit her every time I visit San Francisco. She cares about my startup and the work I do. )
  2. Friends.πŸ™ŽπŸ™Žβ€β™€οΈ Connections who you talked to a couple of times and probably worked on something together. (Such as an intro or a project)
  3. Acquaintance.🀝 Connections who you have at least talked once, but don't really talk that much.
  4. People you don't know.πŸ§Ÿβ€β™€οΈ

If you reverse the order, it will be the phases of networking. It's important to note that the connection quality is mostly determined by what you have done instead of how long you've been knowing a person. Yolanda and I didn't meet up until months after our first conversation. But she was helping me with my work and giving me wisdom. We became very good friends in a very short amount of time.

What does networking look like overall?πŸͺ’

It has three parts: 1. Identify the talent/need. 2. Initiate the connection 3. Sell yourself.

1. Identify the talent/need. Networking is expansive, it takes a lot of time and mental energy. You simply cannot afford to make everyone your close friends. First, I have to figure out what's this person's skill and value. Does she have a lot of connections? What value will he bring to the table? It doesn't have to pay off today, but somewhere in the future. So before I move on to the second step, I need to roughly know which type of connections I want to make it into. The basic rule is that the higher the value, the closer you want it to be. (of course, you have to vibe with each other. Vibing with someone who has different perspectives but still being yourself is a million-dollar skill)

2. Initiate the connection. You need to find a way to start this connection. Do not expect others to come to you. Chances are the connections you want to make are either bad at networking or they are a lot more established than you are in the industry. I can't tell you how exactly to do it since every situation is different. For intros, respond quickly. Do your due diligent research on the person's skill and background. Find a common ground. For cold outreach, find a good conversation starter and go with the conversation. When I first came to UT Austin, I did not know anyone. I was walking around the campus for the very first time. I saw many groups of students were chilling in front of the tower. I asked every single group if I can join them and play with them. Some rejected me, most of the groups accepted me. I went home with 12 connections that day. later the day one person out of the twelve invited me into a 44 students club on Groupme. As I said, every situation is a bit different. Always be proactive, do not afraid of rejections. The worst thing is rejection, and it happens all the time. It's cool that people reject you so that you can learn what you did not do well in the process. And some people are just toxic, it's better to get a rejection. Guess what, every time I came home from networking at UT, I got so excited with the friends I made, I didn't even have time to think about those rejections. Do your thing, you will get better very quickly.

3. Sell yourself. It's one of those things people don't really talk about. When people think of networking, they just totally forget about this part. Most people don't know how to sell themselves. It's just a matter of a couple of simple questions. 1. what can I do to help him/her? Most people don't give a shit about a nobody, you need to show people that you are worth it. (different people have different needs. I always offer resources when I am meeting a professional. When it comes to meeting people in UT Austin, I just tell people interesting things about me. They loved it and became my friends) 2. How can I tell my story? People are not going to help you if they do not know who are you and what you doing. You need to find your way to tell them your story and why you are doing this. I went through a lot of traumatic experiences growing up, I have seen so much ugly things in this world. I want to bring more love to this ugly world, and that is the whole point of starting Gumdrop and everything else. Find a way to tell your story. 3. How can I prove that I can catch the opportunities people give? You need to let people know that their intro/help was spent on someone who can actually do good things with it. This does not always come in the first meeting. But in an intro setting, I always bring it up in the first meeting. I tell people what I am doing, and how they can help me in the process. But don't it carry you away. Focus on offering value instead of receiving value. People love to help those who have helped them.

General principles🧡:

  1. Put yourself out there. If you don't do it, no one will.
  2. Get used to be rejected. You will be rejected for sure, make it a norm. Make sure you figure out why you got rejected. Did I do it wrong? If yes, figure out what is wrong and move on to the next one. If no, it could be their problem, move on to the next one.
  3. Be structural. Do it smart, not just hard. Keep track of everyone, create a holiday email list. By remembering people with your little brain is not going to be efficient.
  4. Don't reject anyone. Be good friends with high-value connections, but don't reject anyone just because they can't offer you anything now. You never know what they will become in the future. As long as they are hard-working and smart. And in general, I think helping more people is a personal mission which I encourage you to do the same.
  5. Focus on offering, not receiving. The key to winning in this game is simple, focusing on offering people help/value. It always works well. I recruited my first ambassador from UT Austin. He is a passionate film major, a talented guy. I didn't start by asking him to be my ambassador, I connected him to my buddy in LA who is currently working in the entertainment industry. He was so grateful for the things I brought on the table and decided to become my ambassador. The point is to really care about the others and see how you can help them to achieve their goals. Don't worry about receiving, because you will receive if you offer.

How to keep track of everyone🌍?

At some point, you will have so many connections that you can even keep up. You need a personal CRM to record all the connections. I personally use Trello, because it works pretty well and it's free.

I put connections in different talent pools:

Then I fill out their profile:

Then I label the type/priority:

I screenshot an example from my network:

Networking is simple, but not easy. You have to do it over and over again to find your own words and style. You can do it! πŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™Œ

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