10 Powerful Business Networking Skills to Build Rapport Quickly
There was a time in my life when I didn't focus on building my network. Although I knew the utility in business networking, I ignored it. I left it for others to do for me. Partners. Associates. Friends. But what I've discovered over time is that there is real potency in the ability to build rapport and create long-lasting bonds through effective business networking.
It truly isn't about what you know. Sure, what you know is important. But what's far more important is who you know. There's a reason why certain people can make so much progress in such a brief period. These business networking power players command the room by bringing the right people together.
As an entrepreneur, if there's one thing that you should focus on, it's to become a truly skilled business networker. But the truth is that so many of us struggle with this. For me, as an introvert, it's always been hard. I was never the outgoing type. I was never really able to network like a real pro. But when I realized just how powerful of a tool this was, I threw myself into it.
I knew that, in my genesis for writing this piece, there was one person that I could turn to for advice in this arena. It's a person who can so quickly build rapport with others that it's mind-boggling. Often called one of the most well-networked individuals in the world, Joe Polish dishes out what it takes to become a truly brilliant business networker.
Tim Ferris, of the iconic 4 Hour Workweek, who's also one of the biggest influencers in modern day business, says, "I've seen many people who have good networks, but I've never seen a better network than the network that Joe has. Joe is absolutely the best door-opener I've ever seen." Brendon Burchard calls him "the most connected and caring guy in the industry," while Sir Richard Branson says that "he's doggedly determined and never gives up and has a big heart."
Related: 5 Steps to Rock Any Networking Event
Why business networking is so important.
Polish is a firm believer in adding lots of value to the world. While most don't realize it, it's the world's most effective communicators who know how to not only use verbal and non-verbal cues to help them understand and dissect others, but also to adhere to certain principles to make rapid progress and build rapport quickly.
Considering that much of the world is out for personal gain, real networking never happens by taking. It happens by giving. And while we could likely list hundreds of reasons why it's so important to get good at networking in business, there are essentially 5 core reasons at the heart of it. If you've ever had one of those friends who seems to know everyone, then you know the effectiveness in building rapport on a massive scale.
People that are well-networked have access to certain things that most others could only dream about. I'm not just talking about knowing other people. I'm talking about things that are exclusive that often don't get offered to the public. Meals, entertainment, speaking engagements, meet-ups, trips, private events, movie premiers, restaurant openings and so on.
But its utility extends far beyond the so-called superficial. We're talking about the underlying ability to move ideas forward by bringing the right people together. Imagine having an idea for a business that's so wonderful, that you can pick up the phone and call four or five people, quickly turning that idea into a reality.
This extends far beyond the recreational value that comes from knowing so many people. I'm talking about the ability to turn your business network into cold hard cash. Thoughts are most certainly things, but the right thoughts in the right person's hands can truly make an extraordinary difference.
You can't do everything on your own: You can't expect to wear every hat all the time. And if you don't know the right people you could reach out to, or you don't understand how to delegate, you could find yourself struggling with your time. Effective networkers know this and take it to heart, doing what they can to collaborate and help others in order to pay it forward.
Increase in referrals and opportunities:: Polish says that while you should most certainly approach your business networking with more of a giving attitude, what often happens is that it helps to create more referrals and opportunities in your own business. That's just the nature of giving without the expectation of getting anything in return.
Helps you build authority and create lasting impact: As you meet more people, and you focus on quality relationships over quantity, you naturally build authority over time. In turn, you create a lasting impact. People remember you as the connector and involve you in a variety of interpersonal relationships, and you likely become the reason for great partnerships forming.
Improves self-worth by learning to help others: Helping others and effectively contributing your time improves your self-worth. You simply feel better at the end of the day, like you made a difference. That comes about by helping others to achieve their goals. In turn, they look to help you when needed.
Develops life-long friendships and bonds: Some of the strongest bonds formed happen in the process of adding value to the lives of others. It says a lot about the type of person who really goes out of their way to assist and alleviate pain or problems in someone else's life.
How to build "magical" rapport.
Overall, there are 10 ways to build what Polish calls, "Magical Rapport". It's part of his formula for networking at the highest level. Most of the items in his list make complete sense. Some might go contrary to the way most of the world operates. However, each skill is necessary for the overall formula to work. These ingredients, when properly combined together, will help you achieve explosive results.
Polish says that each skill, even as simple or basic as it might seem, is needed in order to achieve real success in your efforts to collaborate and network in the business world. If you fail to follow through on even one of these, it could be devastating to your results. That's especially true since falling short or lacking in one skill can entirely negate any positive strides you make in others.
1. Focus on helping to reduce their suffering in some way.
The best networkers in the world like Polish, focus on reducing the suffering of others. The biggest take away here is to ask others about what pain points you can help them solve. In fact, the origins of any successful business start in the desire to solve a problem that the consumer is facing. The most successful businesses are the best at solving those problems.
In business networking, the same thing applies. When you focus on helping others to solve a problem or reduce their pain in some way, you create a long-lasting bond and its forever emblazoned in their minds. As you add value, slowly but surely, from one connection to the next, people remember you as someone who helped them in a very important way.
There's real power in that. One of the ways that Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin empire, was able to expertly build his own network was by going out there and trying to reduce the suffering of others. He did this both in his businesses and in his business relationships. That's a true defining factor in a successful human being.
2. Invest your time, money and energy into relationships.
Arriana Huffington, who is oftentimes called one of the most connected media moguls in the world, understands the underlying necessity to invest your time, money and energy into relationships. While most of the world is out to get, the most well-networked business people in the world are looking to give.
It seems counterintuitive to most people. I know it did to me long ago. But there's true beauty in giving to others. Not only is there a karmic value there, but it also simply feels good. Learn to relish and appreciate the sheer importance of giving something of yourself to others and incredible things will begin to happen.
3. Be an energy charger rather than an energy drainer.
How do people feel about you when you call them? Are they quick to answer or do they ignore you? The difference is enormous. Those that are energy chargers are always at the top of the list for others. Those that are energy drainers are not.
You often hear Tony Robbins talking about being an energy charger. As an influencer and a networker, he's acutely focused on the energy that you put out into the world. There's something to say about being sensitive and attuned to the energy that you're giving off into the world. People pick up on this so it's important to be aware of it.\
4. Add an enormous amount of value to the lives of others.
I've always been a firm believer in adding massive amounts of value. And in business, whether you're networking or selling a product or providing a service and so on, you have to add loads of value. Without doing that, you won't get far. There's something so special and magical about adding value. So few people do it. But when people do, doors open that would never been opened before.
Peter Diamandis, chairman of the X Prize Foundation, co-founder of Singularity University and New York Times bestselling author, is a firm believer in adding an enormous amount of value across the board. He often states that people can achieve extraordinary results by applying this single principle. That's partly what's helped him to succeed at such a high level, and it's something seen amongst the top business networkers and entrepreneurs across the world over.
5. Be useful, be grateful and don't take people for granted.
No matter what industry you're in, you'll always find people who are crass, rude and unruly. However, that's no reflection on you. It's only a reflection on themselves. But you have to look past that. Be useful and grateful for any opportunity that you're given, and don't take people for granted. This applies as much in the business world as it does in your personal life. We always tend to take people for granted.
You often hear Daymond John, founder and CEO of FUBU and investor on the Shark Tank series, talking about not taking people for granted who are around you. It's easy to overlook someone and not give them the time of day because you don't think they'll add anything of value to your business or your life. But that's a huge mistake. John argues that you should help others regardless, and to always be useful and grateful.
6. Treat others the same way that you'd like to be treated.
On a similar note, it's important to be aware of how you're treating others. If you don't want people to treat you poorly, why would you go out there and do it others? It makes absolutely no sense. Be kind, even to people you don't know. It says a lot about you as a human being. It isn't just good business. It's part and parcel to a good life.
One person very vocal about this is Shep Gordon, the Hollywood film agent and producer featured in the 2013 documentary, Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon. Mike Meyers calls him the nicest person he's ever met, hands down. He believes firmly in compassionate business, and there's a reason why he's been so successful at his craft. Always remember to take into account the feelings of others. It's monumentally important.
7. Learn to appreciate others, even in the smallest ways.
It's really easy to overlook an act of kindness done for you. That's especially true when you're so used to having those kind acts done on your behalf. But it isn't about the act of kindness or anything else done for that benefits you in some way. It's about appreciating it.
When someone reaches out to help you, learn to appreciate it. Don't look for the negative. Focus on the positive. Chris Anderson, the founder of TED Talks, has based his entire career on learning to appreciate others. It's because of this deep appreciation of the world and the people in it, that he's been able to succeed on such a high level. Today, TED Talks provides the basis for that way of thinking -- its "ideas worth spreading."
8. Make it a habit to connect with others daily.
Habits are a huge part of our lives. They comprise a large part of our behavior. Several studies have all confirmed the major role that habits play in our lives. You need to build the habit of connecting with others every single day, and not just make it a random chance occurrence. Reach out as often as possible and figure out who you can introduce to one another.
Marie Forleo, a life coach and the host of MarieTV, an award-winning weekly show, speaks about goals, taking action and power of your daily habits quite often. Forleo says that you should think about where some of the best business relationships in your life have come from, and to really be authentic and not fake when you're bringing people together in the business world. While doing this daily is important, the habit is only effective when it's approach with a genuine desire to help others.
9. Spend the time to meet with people as close to in-person as possible
Gary Vaynerchuk, as successful and as popular as he is, understands the necessity to get as close to in-person as possible. What does this mean? Well, if you can't meet in-person, then use audio and video as much as possible, but customize the message. Don't send out something canned or generic.
It's important that you remember to do this. Sure, you can reach out digitally or virtually, but make it personal. Don't send something that doesn't have tonality and care for the person that's actually receiving it. And when people do reach out to you, take them time to reach back if you can. Don't ignore someone who genuinely wants to connect with you.
10. Be conscious of the long-term cause-and-effects of your actions.
Adam Grant, the author of Originals: How Non-Conformists Move The World, argues that networking for the sake of networking won't pay off. Your network shouldn't consist of people that you call only when you need something. You have to be aware that if you try to network like that in business, that it could backfire.
However, it also isn't all about mutually beneficial relationships. While adding loads of value can certainly help, as you work on your own business and gain your own notoriety, Polish says that your success will snowball and you'll find that your efforts will become far more effective.