Whether you are building your business, trying to land your dream job, or climbing your way up the corporate ladder, it seems like everyone tells you to network. It is the key to achieving your goals.
However, people rarely tell you exactly how to network effectively and build a community that will last.
It took me years to form the Influencers Dinner, a private dining community of thought leaders including: award-winning actors, renowned scientists, top business executives, famous musicians, Olympians, and members of royalty. But over the course of those years, I built a strong community of influencers, many of whom I would call my closest friends. They have supported me through everything, from founding my first startup to writing my first book.
Building a community takes a lot of dedication and has its challenges. I wasn't always the best at navigating social situations. In fact, I was and still am a bit of a geek. But by applying my knowledge of science, I have formed stronger, longer-lasting relationships.
Here are three ways you can, too:
1. Ask for favors
In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin reveals that he won over an adversary by asking to borrow a rare book. Because the adversary invested effort into his relationship with Franklin, it redefined their relationship.
Franklin became a person worthy of effort and in time that led to a lifelong friendship. The moral of this story: When you ask people for favors, they will like you more.
The key to the Ben Franklin Effect is to start with small favors and work your way up to larger ones. As people invest more of their time in you, they'll likely value you more.
This is similar to the Ikea effect. A team of researchers led by Michael Norton, Daniel Mochon, and Dan Ariely found that when we put our effort or labor into something, we like it more. That's why we tend to value our Ikea furniture disproportionately, simply because we built it with our own hands.
2. Don't be so self-conscious--people don't notice anyway
In a 2000 study by Thomas Gilovich and his students at Cornell University, participants were asked to wear a shirt with an image that would've been considered embarrassing at the time.
The researchers were studying how self-conscious individuals would be in this situation and whether or not anyone actually noticed the source of the person's insecurities. What they discovered was that only a fraction notices what you worry and obsess over.
It's called the Spotlight effect. People aren't likely to notice what you are self-conscious of, and are even less likely to notice what you are proud of. So stop wasting time worrying about what people notice about you.
If you make a fool of yourself trying to meet a potential investor or an admired entrepreneur, who cares? No one is paying attention, so go out there and hustle.
3. Use novelty to make a lasting impression
Once you've made a connection, you may struggle with how to keep connected or engaged with the person. One important note is that you can take advantage of how the human brain responds to novelty.
Researchers Nico Bunzeck and Emrah Düzel conducted an experiment that studied (SN/VTA), or the novelty center of the brain. They found that the brain responds to new experiences and locations with a desire to explore and understand them.
The more novel you and your interactions with people are, the more likely you'll be remembered.