Which are you?
Networking guru Chris Fralic sees the world as divided between the Hunters and the Hunted. Hunters network because there’s something they want—money, introductions to people with money, introductions to people who can introduce them to other people with money.
The Hunted have what Hunters want, but they’d just as soon keep it for themselves.
Hunters have a variety of powerful weapons at their disposal— emails, telephone calls and, most personal of all, accidental face-to-face meetings carefully choreographed after months of stalking.
In the face of this firepower, the Hunted have very few defenses. They can fly away to their private islands in their private Gulfstream G500, of course, but despite the surroundings of wealth and luxury, they are prey and vulnerable to the basic human desire for connection.
Yes, connection. Scientists know that our earliest Neanderthal ancestors would never have had to beat each other over the head with clubs if they only could have been Facebook friends. (“Hey, Ooog! Thag tagged you in a photo.”)
In “How to Become Insanely Well-Connected,” a recent article in First Round Review, Fralic, a successful venture capitalist, proves he is different than the typical Hunted. He tries to make a connection with the countless Hunters who want to hang his money belt on their wall. This is no small feat. Every year he receives and “responds thoughtfully”—to over 10,000 emails.
I know this is true, because 9,999 of those emails came from me.
So intent is Fralic on making these connections that he created “Fralic’s 7 Rules for Making Memorable Connections.”
The rules make a lot of sense, but they are not easy to follow. Consider rule No. 1, “convey genuine appreciation.” Whichever nudnik manages to buttonhole you, you respond as if you were “genuinely happy to see them.”
As there is no one you’d genuinely like to see, except the pizza delivery guy, Fralic recommends you “think about what they know that you don’t.” This could work, especially if they know what you did Thursday night and have video.
Rule No. 2 is “listen with intent.” This requires “backchanneling—offering short, enthusiastic responses as the other person talks.” Fralic suggests “yeah,” “mm-hmm” and “totally.” These backchannel responses are adequate, but if you really want to impress, go with the classics: “far out,” “rad” or “Beam me up, Scotty.”
Using “humility markers” is rule No. 3. When you have to reject a hunter’s proposition, admit your own inadequacy by saying, “I’m wrong all the time and I very well may be here.” Of course, if the hunter already knows you, this humility marker will be unnecessary.
“Offer unvarnished honesty” is rule No. 4. When stripping the varnish, Chris Fralic adds, “just remember to root your honesty in what will actually have utility for the other party.” This makes sense. No matter what the subject of the conversation, it is always helpful to conclude with “It’s an interesting proposition, but one aspect bothers me: You’re super ugly.”
In Rule No. 5 you are instructed to respond to an impossible request with a “blue-sky brainstorm.” Feel free to give away your ideas to improve their business proposition, but don’t expect to get anything in return. “If you find yourself keeping score in your professional relationships,” Fralic says, “you’re on the wrong track.”
Since your score in most business transactions is 0.0, it’s fine to sprinkle a few informational crumbs. The author suggests you “make a list of everything you feel comfortable offering,” including connections, advice or office space.” I would substitute “living space” for “office space.” You don’t want some loser sitting in the next cube, but assuming they would provide cooking and light housekeeping, it would be fine to have them living in your garage.
Rule No. 6 calls for you to end every meeting or conversation on a positive note. “Assume you are going to run into everyone again,” Fralic cautions, and it’s true. If someone has chosen to hunt you, you’ll definitely run into him or her again—at the unemployment office.
“Don’t fake it” is rule No. 7. Don’t counterfeit a relationship that doesn’t exist. If you want to make a good impression get to know them by creating a “mini dossier.” You’ll want to include “key milestones in their career” and “any recent new stories or announcements about them.”
That’s fine, but why do all that work? Just make sure you know what they did Thursday night—and do be sure to have video.
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at firstname.lastname@example.org.