Dave Nevogt is a co-founder of Hubstaff, a time tracking software for remote teams. Hubstaff allows managers to see time spent on projects, screenshots, activity levels, in-depth reports and timesheets. Dave has been founding companies since 2004 with his first success coming at 23. Follow him @dnevogt .
Cultivate Emotional Intelligence
It’s important to cultivate emotional intelligence. Too many entrepreneurs are heavily focused on driving revenue or developing their product, and they forget that business — and professional networking — happens between people. That means that you have to be able to read subtle emotional cues. You have to be able to present yourself confidently, listen to what other people say and treat them with respect. It’s absolutely vital to your business and overall success in life.
Practice Open, Honest Communication
I met my future business partner Jared initially through work. We built a professional relationship together, which then turned into a personal relationship and we gradually decided to go into business together. It’s been great starting a business with a friend. The key has been open, honest communication about what we want and where we’re at personally and with work.
Be Sincere at all Times
Sincerity is the most important quality for successful networking. People can detect a fake from a mile away, and although they might not directly say it, they won’t enjoy interacting with a fake either. It’s not a good way to make an impression on someone. People always say that for networking, you should keep your energy up and be positive, and while that’s true, you should always speak your own truth and never pretend to be someone you’re not.
Start With Venues You Already Know
Any venue where you have easy access, feel comfortable and your talents are best on display. If you’re still working a day job and starting your business on the side, you could view your office as a networking center. In my case, a previous professional relationship turned into a business partnership. Any work-related social events are also very comfortable networking environments as well. If you start with what’s within close reach already, you might find that those relationships will flourish more naturally.
Be Selective About Your Networking
Being selective about your networking as a practice is my biggest recommendation for simplifying networking. Don’t take a gunshot approach. Some people network as if they were throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks. They go around the room and try to meet as many people as possible, and they think giving and getting business cards is the whole point. This takes so much energy that it’s hard to later filter out and perceive the real opportunities. Be careful about your approach and try to figure out who or what is the center of influence in any new networking situation, and then try to establish your new relationships there.
Talk About Non-Work Interests
You should ask about personal interests, or ask non-work related questions such as travel plans or charity work. This seems counter-intuitive, but by asking the important contacts about their personal interests, you’ll come off as someone who is genuinely interested as cultivating a relationship. Important contacts that can truly influence your business probably get pitched everyone’s startup or business idea, all the time. By taking an interest in what makes them unique, you’ll stand out. There’s plenty of time to pitch later.
Remember the Important Details
One time I accidentally called one of my biggest clients by the wrong name. That was a huge mistake. We’d been doing business for years, and they really valued the relationship with me — until I made them feel like they weren’t important enough for me to remember who they even were. In the end every contact, not just your major ones, deserves to be remembered. And always make sure you have the little details right — especially their name.