2）故事：對話五分鐘，你大概都知道和『對手』有沒有『輕微觸電』。有的話，便說說你的故事 － 你的創業故事或『打工』故事，甚至分享怎樣走到此人生階段。不需盡訴心中情，但說出某程度的感想，可令對方更加記得你，甚至更快和你分享他的所知所聞。市儈角度是拋磚引玉，實際角度是不浪費時間，加快認識。
6) 不知道該怎麼辦？ 談過各自『身世』及對活動的意見後，仍找不到共同話題，便輕輕鬆鬆的談假期或週末去那兒。說多兩句，便禮貌地說要和其他人打招呼。如果你覺得沒趣，九成機會對方也有相同感受。不要太著緊內容，誠懇及謙虛才重要。如果真誠，那怕你學識廣博，人脈豐盛，別人可能想和你打交道，但關係亦難變深厚。
People reached out to me about opportunities in social enterprises and impact investing from time to time, whether through common friends or Linked-in. I do not have anything intelligent to say. My usual suggestion is to attend related events and network. A good percentage of these events are free so the only investment is time. Most people in this field are very welcoming so it is not hard to reach out to strangers at events and have a useful conversation.
Most of us know networking is important but what is the essence of it? Here are three things that I take away from my investment in networking:
1. Building relationships： It is not about collecting name cards and distributing name cards. The number of connections will not enable one to pursue a project or a job. The nature and depth of a relationship counts. By going to events and panel discussions, I learn more about who is who and who does what, i.e. who has a view and who is the thought leader in my area of interest. It helps me to identify the right parties to be involved.
2. Developing insights: I learn the latest trends and practices from panel discussions and workshops. I proactively talk to people at events, share my feedback, as well as ask for other people’s thoughts during breaks. Before one knows, views are developed. Being able to share my own observations and point of view during interviews or catch-ups with potential partners is important.
3. Reflecting: I am not shy about sharing my thoughts, startup ideas or business plans with people I meet for the first time. I actually think it is extremely useful to bounce ideas with a diverse group of people. Sometimes my friends are too gentle with me and would not say that my idea does not make sense. One’s idea will not grow or evolve unless it is tested, either by obtaining more information or thoughts through talking to potential customers or users (of course, it is even better if one gets the chance to test it in the real market).
How to conduct networking effectively?
1. Proactive. Depending on the day of the month, I am an introvert. I am not comfortable in a crowd. If I leave it to my usual self, I may not end up talking to anyone. I commit to make two new acquaintances at any networking event.
2. Story Telling. People love stories. I share my personal career journey. Most people find it quite interesting. By sharing something personal, your new ”friend” may also open up a little and tell you more about themselves, i.e. what they do and what they are involved.
3. 48 hours. Most people score real bad in this. I email 85% of the people I have met. Say hello and thank them for their insight. If a useful contact is mentioned, remind them and appreciate their effort to connect.
4. Coffee. Again, bad score for most people. 300 cups of coffee may not do good to my health but it certainly do good to my soul and rolodex of resource. For those people whom I identify as having potential collaboration opportunities and have expressed interest to meet up again, I follow up. I do not wait for them to reach out. We are all busy people who get distracted all the time. I make a difference by reaching out. I cannot remember anyone turn round to say ”No, thanks!”. Majority of these coffee catch-ups turned out to be constructive discussions and led to more coffee, sometimes lunch or dinner which meant that those relationships have developed to a different level. A good fraction of these contacts have become my trusted friends and partners.
5. Volunteer. If I get the chance to speak to a leader or a responsible person in an organization that I am interested to know more, I volunteer to do some work for them. It is an opportunity to get a deeper understanding of the subject matter or the culture and operation involved. Once I get the exposure, I can judge whether it is something I want to get into. It also gives other people the chance to know me better and understand my capability.
6. Getting Stuck? Of course, there are moments of awkwardness. After several attempts to identify common interests, there may not be a slightest spark of chemistry. Relax. Switch to talk to something more general, like where they are going in the coming holidays or whether they have gone on a hike during this dry and cool season. It is always acceptable to say that you want to find a friend or say hello to someone you know at the other end of the room. If I don’t think the dialogue is getting anywhere, it is very likely the other person feels the same way too.
Life is full of surprises. There were many times that I dragged my feet to attend networking drinks. However I felt good after the fact. I thanked myself for making the effort and creating more opportunities for new ventures.
I am looking forward to my 300 coffees in 2016. Hope you do too.