Seattle’s own Dan Price is not your typical networker but he does believe in making lasting connections. Founding a tech company at 19, he has since grown Gravity Payments into the largest credit card payment processing company in Washington State. He is a recipient of the 2010 SBA Entrepreneur of the Year Award, 2009 Seattle Mayor’s Small Business Award, and Puget Sound Business Journal’s 40 under 40. He was also named Regional Finalist for the 2010 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Speaking to an eager audience this Monday at the Entrepreneur Week 2012 at University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, Dan shared his personal life story with attendees. Beginning with his membership in a band that played restaurants and coffee shops in Seattle, Price leveraged the exposure and connections he made into partnerships with small business owners that ultimately fed into his business model.
His top 10 networking tips were peppered with stories from his own life and from interactions with towering personalities like President Barack Obama, Adrian Grenier (Entourage), Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam), Rob McKenna ( Washington State Attorney General and Gubernatorial candidate), Dale Chihuly, Fredy Montero (Seattle Sounders FC), Alex Morgan (Seattle Sounders Women, US National Soccer team and Olympic Gold winner) and many others who he did not meet in typical ‘networking situations’, but just by living his life, being himself and earnestly trying to make a connection with them.
Here is the list, and don’t expect to find points like ‘Have a plan’ or ‘Practice your elevator pitch.’
1) Be transparent
Be willing to disagree and express your own views on topics you feel passionate about, in an honest manner.
2) Practice empathy
When engaging with others turn the dial up on what the other person is thinking and saying, while turning it down on your own emotions and needs. Think of ways in which you can help them.
3) Recognize shared interest
When you meet someone who has achieved a lot in some field, avoid suggesting or pretending that you too have something in common with them. Instead, show appreciation for their success and thank them for their contribution. But do share stories with each other about shared interests.
4) Be humble
Don’t hold back from asking someone about something, if you know you can learn from them. Always strive to be a sponge and absorb knowledge from others
5) Let people know how they can be helpful
People are always ready to help you if you can clearly articulate what it is that they can do for you.
6) Give and accept favors
Success alone doesn’t amount to happiness. In getting closer to your goals, what matters is how much you give and put yourself out there to help others. Try doing something for someone everyday while at the same time being appreciative when others do the same for you. As Guy Kawasaki puts it, when someone thanks you for helping them, instead of saying “you’re welcome”, say “Hey! It’s no problem…you would have done the same for me.”
7) Solve problems together
Understand common problems and probe solutions together with people you engage with. So be a problem solver and don’t be afraid of mining people for ideas if you believe they can help you solve issues.
8) Have fun
Just have fun it’s a great way to meet people.
9) Believe in serendipity
Don’t wait to meet people in ‘networking situations’ to ‘network’. You’d be surprised how much control of the world you have if you just started with the people around you, being open and applying all of the above principles. Pressurizing yourself that you need to ‘network’ will lower your chances at being effective.
10) Don’t be a douchebag
Really, its just a list of the top ten things to do to be a nice human being and a guide to treating others with respect. So throw away those self help books telling you how to win friends, climb the professional ladder or become a master of the universe – and just be a sociable engaged individual. That’s the only true secret of success.