Online Networking: The Socializer vs. The Creeper

Back in College, I ran a couple of nightlife events

Every night, I'd see two types of guys: Peter the creeper and Max the socializer. Both looking to meet a beautiful woman.

Peter would stand on the side of the dance floor. Looking overly confident, sipping on his drink, and searching for the perfect candidate. It would take him almost two hours and too many drinks before he could make his first move of the night.

Max in the other hand would enter the venue all loose and relaxed, talking to everyone as if he was hosting the night. He would work the whole venue. And by the time he bumped into a girl he liked, getting her number was just part of the night. Not the main event.

At the end of the night, it all came to this. Every guy wanted to be like Max, but didn't know how to. And no girl wanted to deal with Peter.

Here is what I like about Max

Whether he's in the bar or behind a glowing screen, he loves people. He enjoys getting to know others. He makes you feel important. Whether he wants or needs something from you or not.

In a business environment, he's always talking to like minded proffesionals and exchanging ideas. Connecting people to great opportunities, and sharing his best insights to help others get ahead.

But when technology gets in the way, most act like Peter

Technology is so informal, it makes us think like machines. We start thinking about people as numbers. Spamming others using the same pickup line, instead of just being real and intentional. Sending the same cover letter to different companies, or a generic sales message to different prospects.

For example, Peter & Max on LinkedIn

Peter visits LinkedIn only when he's looking for a job or trying to sell something. Sporadically trying to expand his network.

Max made being active on LinkedIn a long term strategy. Liking, sharing, and commenting on real-time updates from his network weekly. Or in a sales position, engaging with prospects multiple times before asking for an appointment.

Building relationships unlocks new opportunities

In business, your professional relationships can help you get introduced to a recruiter for competitive job openings. Or get referred to a decision maker in a big account you've been trying to close for a long time.

But when you spot that great opportunity,  do you want to be Peter? who shows up out of nowhere just because he needs something. Or like Max? who's always staying in touch in an authentic way.

This is why the best time to network is when you don't need anything

Relationships and technology. I challenge you to reflect on how to use these two. Because it'll help you stand out from the crowd instead of blending in.  

Remember, don't just sip on your cup until you're ready to ask for something. Invest time in the long term by staying in touch with your network. So that when you need something, “asking” will be just part of your night, not the main event.

Photo by thomashawk / CC BY