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I was fortunate enough to be invited to the 2013 Baseball All Star Game last night, by the wonderful people at Steiner Sports. In between shoveling hot dogs, pasta, and fresh sliced steak into my mouth, I talked to a lot of people. I also watched the person who invited me – He’s a master networker. Between the two of us, I offer you five networking takeaways that I both learned and employed at Citi Field last night, and that are applicable anywhere.
5) Get a beer for anyone. I’ve been doing this for years, and it paid off last night – The tables in the lounge I was in at the game (Thank you, Modells!) were all high-bar tables, meaning you’d meet new people whenever you sat down, as there was no assigned seating. Easiest thing in the world – If I was getting back up to stuff my face, I’d simply bring back another round of whatever everyone else was drinking. Granted, this is easier at an open bar. But come on, who doesn’t like the guy who shows up with another round for everyone? Got three business cards and one “Oh, your new company sounds interesting – Call me,” out of three beers and a vodka soda.
4) Recommend food. It was a buffet line, with chefs behind the pasta bar, the meat bar, and the hot dog bar. (Yes, Modell’s clubhouse at Citi Field had a hot dog bar.) I had my first plate of pasta when I walked in the door. By the time I went up for a second one, the woman in front of me was having a hard time choosing. I simply told her what I had, and that it was awesome. We then had four minutes to schmooze while the pasta was being prepared. Another intro. And when I email her today to tell her it was nice to meet her and offer a little more about what I do, I can simply title the email “From Pasta Guy.” Everyone loves Pasta Guy. Or Steak Guy. Or Burger Guy.
3) Be the guy who takes the photo. I spent last night in the company of giants. Literally. Darryl Strawberry. Steve Schirripa, Mitchel Modell. As I wandered the clubhouse, I saw more and more people attempting bad selfies with celebrities. A selfie with a celebrity is never a good idea because a) you’ll always look awkward at best, and b) you’ll more than likely have six chins from holding your head back to try and get in the shot. Selfies are bad in general, super-bad with a celeb. So I would walk around, and when I saw someone try and take the photo, I’d offer to to take their camera and take the picture for them. The sense of relief that came over the person was massive. They could look their best for a photo that you know damn well was going to be on their Facebook page two seconds later. Bonus? I could talk to them, and if I wanted to talk more, ask them to friend me so I could see the photo.
2) Find someone else who’s as awestruck by how their life rolls as you are. As I walked outside of the clubhouse and into the “outside” part of the clubhouse, which was essentially, the warning track in center field, I stopped for a second and offered a small prayer of thanks. Come on – I’m nobody special. I’m not an actor on TV, I’m not a baseball player or a sports star. I’m a guy who got lucky with a few companies, and who tries to live by a code of being good to people. That’s gotten me almost everything in my life I have – My wife, my child, my cat, my success – But when I stand next to Cy Young Award Winners, or Tony/Oscar winners… I’m just floored. I’m like, “dude, I’m just a kid who grew up in the NYC public schools – What the heck am I doing here?” It’s an amazing feeling, and if you look hard enough, you’ll find someone else with that same kind of “holy crap, this is ridiculous!” grin on their face. Friend them. You’ll have a connection for life based on something no one can take away. Some of the people I do the most business with are also NYC kids, just as amazed at where their life is taking them as I am with mine.
1) Finally, you’re in a small space – Just turn to the person next to you and start talking! At the very least, do this. You’re at an event. It’s a fun event. People are having a good time. There’s no reason not to talk to someone who’s having just as good a time as you, at the same event! You don’t even have to make it about work if you don’t want to. In fact, it’s always good to start off NOT about work – Work will always be there. Start off with something fun. Last night, it was hot as anything when we walked out of the clubhouse. Something as simple as “I wonder if they’ll bring over the hoses they use to wet down the infield dirt over here?” was a nice opener. Just talk to people. You’ll be amazed what comes of it.
Networking is life. Never forget that. What’s your one favorite party networking tip? I’ll have Rachel pick one at random and we’ll send the winner a ScotteVest goodie. Leave your tip in the comments below, and as always, thank you for reading!