All ego, no shoes, Silicon Valley smile. Tim Ferriss took South By Southwest’s (SXSW) largest stage with swagger.
And within 20 minutes, the author of The 4-Hour Workweek changed my vision of tackling SX from a series of forced interactions to a fluid social game plan. His rules: don’t dismiss people, don’t be a dick, and don’t rush.
Image Source: Chris Taylor, Mashable
But what do these points look like in action? And how do they ladder up to our professional lives outside of the SX bubble? Here’s how:
- Don’t dismiss people. “Behave like everyone has the potential to get you a cover story at the New York Times,” he said. Some of your most important professional relationships can originate not by connecting with an A-lister being swarmed by other attendees, but by unknowingly striking up a conversation with that person’s spouse/agent/assistant instead.
- Don’t be a dick. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Per rule one, in this day and age, any person at an event could be (or eventually become) a big-time blogger or influencer. Be kind to everyone, and see where it takes you.
- Don’t rush. Play the long game. Tim said, “There are hundreds of people who could change your life completely. Your job should be to make a deep human connection with one of those people.” This is not just a SX concept, but a great goal to have in mind at every event.
For some bonus advice, Tim shared his favorite networking tips:
- If you’re alone and trying to decide which group of strangers to approach, rule out groups of two. Instead, walk up to a group of three-to-four people and ask, “May I join you?” Tim explained that while no one is going to deny you entry, it is more socially skilled to make the ask anyway.
- If you’re bad at small talk, use these ice-breakers:
NOT “What do you do?” Instead, say:
- “Where are you from?”
- “Are you from X originally?”
- “How’d you end up in X?”
And just like that, you’ll get their whole story.
Thanks to Tim, I spent SX (and every networking event since) feeling relaxed, goal oriented, and “playing the long game.”