Living Entrepreneurship Blog / Babson Entrepreneurs

How 2 Network

How 2 Network with Stuart Tucker

Welcome back to another exciting semester of How 2 Tuesdays! Our first How 2 Tuesday in February was led by Stuart Tucker, a Major Gifts Officer at Babson. Mr. Tucker’s job is to generate new relationships and maintain existing connections with Babson alumni, friends, and corporations. He regularly interacts with both “cold” and “warm” contacts and wanted to share advice he has picked up along the way.

Mr. Tucker defines networking as establishing new relationships for a mutual benefit. The inclusion of a “mutual benefit,” rather than a sole focus on your own immediate benefit, ignites long-lasting relationships. The basics of networking are simply to “show up and follow up.” When in conversation, be genuine! Networking isn’t only about talking about your success; feel free to be candid about your challenges. If you want to create a long-term relationship, you have to be yourself from the moment you first meet. Find common ground between yourself and the other person and be genuinely interested in what they share with you. Be engaged in the conversation. Listen carefully and ask questions. If you tend to quickly forget people’s names, you can be honest and say “I’m sorry, could you remind me your name?” Be up front in order to have that connection going forward!

Once you’re comfortable showing up and being yourself, start focusing on “intermediate-level” networking skills. Know your story and your objectives- why are you attending this event or requesting to meet with this person? Is there something you hope to learn? Focus on enhancing the width and depth of your network, as both are important. Strike a balance between putting effort into new and existing contacts. Even if it has been a while since you last spoke with someone, feel free to reach back out and reconnect! It helps if you mention something interesting you discussed in your last conversation.

This segues into Mr. Tucker’s “advanced” networking tips. Tip number one is to commit to a “mind dump” after substantial conversations or networking events, in which you write notes about the interaction in a journal or on your smartphone. Capture as much information as possible. This step is especially important for those who have trouble remembering details. The quality of your notes will reflect the quality of your follow-up. Tip number two is to come up with creative ways to reach people who somehow keep evading you. Ask a mutual connection to introduce you. Go “old school” by sending them a handwritten note. If you receive no response after several attempts, send an email saying that you have tried to get in touch for a while and you don’t want to cloud their inbox, so you will circle back again in six months. The final tip is to be confident in asking for what you want and be prepared to pivot. Focus on getting a base hit instead of a home run, if that is more realistic. Any progress is great!

Mr. Tucker acknowledges that networking looks different for everyone, so find what works for you. We are excited to put our new networking skills into action!