Saturday, March 14, 2009

Networking @ INSEAD

I am no good @ Networking. Thanks to my career in software development, my social skills are really weak. Small talk is lame, and coming up with some BS questions to ask is way out of character. I met a friend who works for Temasek in Singapore who completely changed my perspective. I'm not going to reveal all the tactics, but will share a few simple learnings with 2 frameworks

Small Talk Framework (STF)
1. "So, what's your reading of these difficult economic times"
Good: Vague question, makes the other guy talk
2. "Tell me more about what folks do as Structured Financing expert"
3. "What do you think are the transferrable skills in a career in Private Equity?"

4. What's nice about working at BCG?
5. What's the hardest problem you've solved during your career at Mckinsey?
6. What makes INSEAD an attractive school to your company?

SOCIAL (so that you don't sound like a bloodsucker)
7. Do you'll have an ultimate frisbee league at Microsoft?
8. I heard you Bainies frequently meet over weekends?

Fishing for nothing (FFN)
FFN's main philosophy is take a worm, put it on a hook, dip it in the water but pull it out before a fish bites. The idea here is pretty simple. Everyone hates the guy who has an ulterior motive and talks to you only if they need something. Don't be that guy. So what can you talk about

1. Hey, I'm interested in this Web2.0 thing. What's the coolest thing happening in the industry?
2. I heard you're a serial entrepreneur. What's the next big area you're planning on funding?

Now these questions get you some information about what the person is doing. You can absorb this information, lay low and then pounce back when the timing is right.

I'm sure there's more to do. If you guys have any suggestions or frameworks for networking that is not taught in the real world, please comment..


Paul Kagoo said...

Hi: Any suggestions about housing for the July 2010 class?

InseadApplicant said...

See my earlier post perhaps on Fonty housing?

Anonymous said...

hrm... I don't know if social skills can be taught in a framework. Frameworks can help. You can make sure not to ask the wrong questions. But if you're asking the right questions, but your body language is awkward, or you're doing all the right things and the person you're speaking with can tell that you're reading from a script, then it doesn't work.

I think the key to networking is empathy. It's approaching every person with the assumption that they have something interesting to tell you, then being able to put yourself in their shoes and be excited for them as they talk about this really cool web 2.0 thing they're doing. When people ask me about my industry, I've found that too many go through the motions of asking verbatim all the questions they were taught in a seminar, and then not responding correctly to the information I was giving them.

That's my advice, for what it's worth.

InseadApplicant said...

I think my advice is for the naives and socially disfunctional folks..

I agree with what you say 100%, but for some people such skills need to be developed and there really isn't any useful starting points..

And judging by your performance in LPG, let's just say that that advice doesn't really pertain to you ;)

Anonymous said...

@ InseadApplicant. Thanks. I should set up an LPG tutoring service for the next intake! Proofreading of essays for 100 EUR a piece? What do you think?

I think the starting point is empathy - learning to put yourself in someone else's shoes. Building self-confidence is another - that can be self-perpetuating. But yes, maybe easier said than done.