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How To Build Your Network, Wingman Style

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Thomas Edwards has the best title ever: The Professional Wingman. This twenty-something has a gift for networking and building relationships that last. Especially the romantic kind.

He’s so good at his work that outlets like the Wall Street Journal, CNN and Cosmopolitan have compared him to the romantic comedy character Will Smith portrayed in the 2005 film,  “Hitch.” We talked with the Philadelphia University graduate about how college students can successfully build relationships and expand their network.

What are some of the most blatant things people do wrong with relationship building?

The most blatant thing I’ve seen has been having a poor mentality going into a potential interaction. If you focus more on having a positive and fun impact on the person you’re speaking with instead of getting them to like you, you’ll be likely to have better interactions.

Being enthusiastic about life, what you’re doing and where you’re going can be very attractive to those around you. Combining that with having a “half glass full” mentality, and you have a great foundation for adding value.

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We’ve all found ourselves at networking events which can be awkward. When we meet a stranger for the first time, what are some natural way to approach and start a conversation?

It’s best to follow my rule of 3 C’s: context, confidence and content. If you nail the first two, the third doesn’t really matter.

Context: The great thing about networking events is there is one common denominator amongst everyone there: they’re looking to meet people to make potential connections.

Confidence: If you present yourself confidently, people will respond positively. Although confidence is a state of mind, you can still do things physically that may trigger that emotional state, such as standing upright, keeping your hands out of your pocket, making eye contact and most importantly, smiling.

Content: In most situations, walking up and saying something like, “Hey guys, I just wanted to introduce myself. My name is [enter name here],” works just fine. Because you may be interrupting a conversation, you’ll want to redirect the attention off of you and back to them. A simple way to do this is by asking, “how do you know each other?”

What are some simple things people can do right now to expand and create value within their network?

The concept of  “paying it forward,” always works. I believe the more you willingly give, the more you’ll get back in return. It may not be directly from the person you pay it forward to, but your good charity will never go unacknowledged. This allows you to extend your value and grow your network across all facets.

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Antonio Neves is the author of '50 Things Every College Student Should Know.' He is a graduate of Western Michigan University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.