A Gentleman’s Guide to Networking

Hey Ask Andy readers, Kyle here from The Distilled Man.

Right now you probably have some idea that building relationships can be good for your career, not to mention your personal life, but the word “Networking” gets a bad rap and for good reason.

Old-school networking was all about a bunch of sweaty dudes in a room throwing business cards at each other, without even trying to connect on human level.

So, if that’s all you know of networking, I understand why you’re not into it.

Fortunately making new connections doesn’t have to be that way.

Up next I’m going to share 4 tips for growing your network without feeling sleazy.

#1 – Just Connect

Don’t network, just connect.

Most of us like networking when it’s natural…when it’s serendipitous…it just happens.

Not when it’s cold and transactional, and that’s why one of the best things you can do is to stop calling it networking.

In the book “Barking Up the Wrong Tree“, Eric Barker explains that the brain doesn’t really distinguish between work and personal.

On a deep level we don’t really process the word contacts as much as we do the word “friendship”.

So it’s no surprise when highly successful people like Ramit Sethi say that networking works best when it’s a personal relationship.

That’s why, even if you’re at a business event, sometimes it’s better to actually talk about personal things.

Your hobbies, your vacations, your family.

Because often that’s a better way for you to actually break the ice and start building a real relationship.

#2 – Pay Into The Account

Pay into the account before trying to make a withdrawal.

How do you feel when someone asks you for something within just a few minutes of meeting you.

Whoaaa, I’m not that easy…buy me dinner first at least!

Feels kind of cheap doesn’t it?

Let’s look at it another way, if you open a bank account and you try to take money out before you put any money in, it’s not gonna work out that well is it?

You’ve got to make a deposit long before you’re gonna make it withdrawal and the same goes for relationships.

On some level that means you want to build connections before you actually need them and that’s why it’s great to stay open to cultivating broad relationships with people even if on the surface it doesn’t seem like they may ever be able to benefit you professionally.

But also, when you first meet someone don’t think about what you can get from them, think about what you can do for them.

Start paying into that savings account immediately, even if you’re not sure if you’ll ever see anything in return.

One of the easiest ways is to look for miniature favors that you can do for the other person.

Sometimes it’s as easy as you know sending them an article that they might find helpful or maybe introducing them to a new connection that might be beneficial for their business or that they might enjoy meeting.

Well you may not directly receive something back from them, by paying it forward you’re continuing to deposit into that savings account well before you might need to call in a favor.

#3 – Prepare

Prepare yourself and know yourself.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the people who are best at building relationships are the people who are well prepared to make connections.

I’m not saying you need to walk around with a stack of business cards ready to pounce on somebody with your elevator pitch.

“The names Jimbo Reddington, the business is plastics, how can I get you in my rolodex today.”

No, don’t do that.

The best way to be prepared is to know yourself.

In her book “How To Be A Power Connector“, Judy Robinett says that you need to know two things in order to make the most of growing your network.

One, you need to know who you are and what you have to offer.

And two, you need to know what you need.

First, you need to be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses.

But more importantly, you need to figure out what value you have you can offer to other people.

Point #2

Point number two, you need to figure out what you can do for other people to start paying into that account immediately.

All of us have, as Liam Neeson would say, “A certain set of skills”.

You know, maybe it’s graphic design. Maybe it’s writing. Maybe it’s Tunisian basket braiding or something. Or maybe you know someone that you can refer people to.

And secondly know what you need and this may seem obvious but the key is to be very specific and not go too big too soon.

I mean, you can’t say like “Hey I need money for my startup, can you write me a check”.

But you could say you know “I’m looking to connect with someone who’s had experience dealing with VCS so they can help educate me on how to play the game”.

Or, maybe you’re looking to get feedback on an idea or you’re looking to fill a particular role in your company or maybe you’re looking to build a particular skill and you want to get recommendations on resources or books to look at.

Whatever it is, just try to keep the ask specific and appropriate to the level of the relationship.

#4 – Add Value

You can still add value even if you’re a small fish.

Now, one of the dynamics that comes out pretty quickly when you’re out networking is that not everyone is at the same level.

So, if you’re not as far along in your career, you may not feel like you have anything to give to those people who are further along.

Even if on paper you feel like you have nothing to offer, there are absolutely ways for you to add value for a bigger fish.

There are some basic things that are helpful to almost anyone.

Help them promote their business, buy or recommend their product if they have one.

Send them a resource or a helpful article or even just a tip for a vacation spot that you like.

Maybe introduce them to a talented person who could be an asset to them.

Even simple things like offering your time or providing honest feedback on an idea can go a long way.

You know you can also ask them what challenges they’re currently having and what they most need now.

You know many cases you may not actually be able to help directly, but sometimes it might be something simple like maybe they just need reviews on Amazon for the book that they just wrote.

So gents, growing your network does not have to feel sleazy, especially if you follow these four tips.

In fact, you may even find that you enjoy making new connections.

Alright, well I hope you enjoyed the video.


If you want to get more tips on how to become a successful well-rounded gentleman, I actually have a special link for Ask Andy readers.

If you visit thedistilledman.com/andy, I’ll go ahead and send you 20 of my top articles and videos from The Distilled Man.

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Thanks again for watching and I’ll see you soon!