Networking skills

By Marc Resnick

A recent Harvard Business Review article makes an important point about networking at events like the IIE Conference. There is a well known finding in social psych that emotional connections are built in both directions. When you do a favor for someone, they like you more. But your brain needs to justify why you did them the favor, so you unconsciously like them more too.

The HBR article applies this to networking. When you meet someone at a conference, they will remember you more favorably if you did something for them, even subtly. For example, introduce them to someone they didn’t know. Even if they didn’t ask for the intro, if it seems like a good connection, they will appreciate it.

The other side of the coin is the reverse direction. When you meet someone who you want to perceive you favorably, you need to ask them to do something for you. Sometimes within the first week or two, if not right away (according to the blog). If you did something valuable for them, they will feel obligated to return the favor (again, just ask for something small and easy). And unconsciously, their brain will justify the effort by convincing themself that they liked you/respected you/or something positive.

This may sound a little counterintuitive, but it really works. Try it with the people you met this week at IIE. Ask half of them for favors and see which relationships develop stronger.