How to network even if you hate networking

Ramit Sethi

When you think about networking, what comes to mind?

A sleazy, scammy guy with his hair greased back, fake smile, and his business card always in hand?

That’s what most people think about networking. That it’s slimy and fake.

But that idea is false. Networking doesn’t have to be slimy. Nor does it need to be scary or overwhelming. Believe it or not, it can actually be fun. Even if you think you “hate” networking.

The key is to reframe what networking means to you. Instead of trying to get something from someone, focus on trying to give people something of value. In this article, I’ll show you how to do exactly that.

I’m not exaggerating when I say networking is the #1 reason for any success I’ve had.

If you follow the two easy rules in this article — just two! — you’ll find yourself surrounded by people who want to help you achieve your goals. Best of all, you won’t even know you’re networking.

Strategy #1: Introduce your friends to each other

Good news: You already have a network. If you have an email account — which you do — you have a network.

And you already know interesting people. Even better, you know interesting people who don’t yet know each other.

So my challenge to you is simple: Introduce your friends to each other.

Connecting people who can help each other is a highly useful skill. When you connect people to others they wouldn’t otherwise know, and to opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have, they’ll remember you. And they’ll be grateful that you helped them.

This is what networking really looks like

Now, I’ll assume you know how to talk to your friends. Great. All you need to do is to talk to two of them… at the same time.

Here’s how to connect two friends…

  1. Pick a friend. Ask yourself: What do they need? Maybe they’re a runner and they just moved to a new town, so they’re looking for the best trails in the area. Maybe the start-up they were working at just went under and they’re looking for a tech job.
  2. Once you identify their need, think about who you know who can help with that need.
  3. Then make an introduction. You can use this word-for-word email script:

One quick email, and now Chris is grateful to you for connecting him with a key player at his ideal company. And Jeff is grateful you’ve introduced him to someone with similar interests.

This is how effortless networking really is.

But what about networking with people who aren’t your friends? That’s where my second strategy comes into play.

Strategy #2: Close the loop

Let’s say you meet someone for an informational interview. You leave the meeting feeling good, but you’re not sure what to do next.

Everyone sends a thank you email. (At least everyone intelligent does.)

You, on the other hand, can stand out by using my Closing the Loop technique. As I explain in the video below, this powerful technique helps you stay in touch with people you’ve met once, and turn a one-time meeting into a long-term relationship.

When you use this strategy, you’ll stay at the top of their minds. And that can lead to jobs with them or with people in their network.

Plus, there’s no chance you’ll come off as sleazy, slimy, or scammy, because you’re putting their needs ahead of your own.

Here are the exact email scripts my students and I use to extend relationships beyond the initial meeting.

Email #1: Thank you (same day)

Notice the simple thank you, as well as a reference to a specific action item you’re going to follow up on. This shows that you were paying attention during the meeting/call. This email ends with a friendly offer to help and asks nothing of the VIP.

Email #2: Add value (1-2 weeks later)

This email is where things start to get surprising. The VIP likely didn’t expect to hear back from you, since almost nobody follows up beyond one email. In this email, you’re sending a valuable piece of material — an article, blog post, photo, whatever — of something you KNOW he will find interesting.

How do you know what he’ll find interesting? Because during your meeting, you listened and took careful notes.

Finally, pay close attention to the phrase used in the last sentence: “No response needed.” This is music to a busy person’s ears.

Think about it: I get 1000+ emails/day. Do you know what most of them are about? Someone wants something from me. When you can say “No response needed” and send me something I find fascinating, you’re adding value to my life.

Email #3: Close the loop (2-3 weeks later)

Finally, here you show the VIP that you took action on what he suggested. This will instantly differentiate you from 99% of people. Notice that you name specific names and let him know if he was right (or if you chose something different than his recommendation).

The simplicity of the Closing the Loop technique belies its effectiveness. It seems simple and obvious — until you use it. Then its true power is revealed.

Of course, not every networking challenge can be solved by Closing the Loop.

But what if I haven’t met with the VIP in person yet?

What if they never return my emails?

No problem — I can show you exactly how to react in those situations, too.

Enter your information below, and I’ll send you the word-for-word email scripts I use for:

  • Cold-emailing VIPs
  • Following up with someone who hasn’t responded to my emails
  • Asking a friend for an introduction to one of their contacts
  • Trying to “warm up” an old contact

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