99% of Networking Is a Waste of Time

Jan15_21_piechart[1]Building the right relationships — networking — is critical in business. It may be an overstatement to say that relationships are everything, but not a huge one. The people we spend time with largely determine the opportunities that are available to us. As venture capitalist and entrepreneur Rich Stromback told me in a series of interviews, “Opportunities do not float like clouds in the sky. They are attached to people.”

To say Stromback is a great networker is an understatement: he was introduced to me as “Mr.Davos” for good reason. He has spent the last ten years attending the Mecca of networking events  — held by the World Economic Forum every year in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. The New York Times described him as the “unofficial expert on the Davos party scene.” Every year, he knows where the big events will be because he has so many people feeding him information, and he makes sure to be at the center of the action. Over time, this has turned into a surreal set of relationships. When a Middle East Prince was asked to meet with some Fortune 500 CEOs, he reached out to Stromback to attend and facilitate the meeting; when the Vatican was trying to negotiate a peace treaty of sorts they asked Stromback to help.

People also come to him because they feel they’re not getting enough value at Davos. “They chase for more and get less,” says Stromback, who finds the notion almost unimaginable. “The forum is the most influential community in the world. It’s the United Nations, G20, Fortune 500, Forbes List, tech disrupters and thought leaders all brought into one.”

Much of what he has learned from a decade at Davos flies in the face of generally-accepted networking advice. Below are snippets of my conversations with Stromback about his counterintuitive advice. Use it at Davos  — or any other networking event:

Don’t care about your first impression. “Everyone gets this wrong. They try to look right and sound right and end up being completely forgettable. I’m having a ball just being myself. I don’t wear suits or anything like that. I do not care about first impressions. I’d almost rather make a bad first impression and let people discover me over time than go for an immediate positive response. Curiously, research I read years ago suggests that you build a stronger bond over time with someone who doesn’t like you immediately compared to someone who does. Everything about Jack Nicholson is wrong, but all of the wrong together makes something very cool.”

Read full article at: 99% of Networking Is a Waste of Time

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