Over the past six years, marketing consultant Jon Levy has built a network of over 400 interesting and impressive people ranging from Nobel laureates to Olympic athletes.
Twice a month, Levy holds private dinner parties and TED Talk-like salons in the sprawling New York City apartment he inherited from his parents.
He’s not a celebrity or power broker, but he’s built these connections through mastering the art of networking.
And as he told Business Insider, he thinks his approach became especially effective after he read Wharton professor Adam Grant’s 2013 book “Give and Take” — Levy then used the techniques Grant prescribes to build a relationship with Grant himself.
Levy’s basic approach is essentially: Develop a diverse network of “givers.”
By Grant’s definition, a “giver” is someone who adds value to another person without expecting anything in return, therefore avoiding the strictly transactional relationships that often define professional networks.
“If you’re a giver, then you build quality relationships, and with those relationships you’re exposed to opportunity over the long term,” Grant told Business Insider. “You actually increase your own luck so far as you contribute things to other people.”
Thought of in another way, throw out the notion of networking as exchanging business cards after small talk and instead see it as befriending people who may one day help you out in your career, and who you’d also be happy to help.
As Levy explained, prioritise someone’s personality over their perceived usefulness. This will allow you to venture outside of your industry’s bubble and meet some genuinely interesting people.
“It’s adding diversity to your network that truly helps it,” Levy said. “The reason is, every time you add an additional person that’s in your industry, you’re not expanding your network very much because you all probably know the same people.”
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