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The pretzel principle: Tips for natural networking

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The pretzel principle: Tips for natural networking

This was originally written for the Standing Out group on Facebook and was published there on 29th May 2015, five months after I set up my translation business. I just rediscovered the text and wanted to share it here too. Enjoy!

When I left my corporate job to go freelance, I invited my colleagues to a goodbye gathering. In preparation I spent a couple of days baking cakes, and yet still on the morning of the party I woke up thinking “It won’t be enough! I need pretzels!” At the end of the party the cake was all gone, and the bag of pretzels was still pretty much full.

I knew the pretzels would soon go stale, so once I got home I went round asking our neighbours if they could take some of them off our hands.
Everyone was happy to get some, and everyone asked why I had so many. And so – perfectly naturally – I was able to tell my story about leaving my job and setting up my own business as a translator. It was a big week for me and my excitement was shining through.

Now when I meet neighbours on the street – even those I don’t know that well – they ask how my new venture is going.
Most of my neighbours are not in my target group (although you never know), but I’m pretty sure that if someone they know is ever looking for a translator, they will think of me.

I realised that if I want people to remember me and my business, I can learn from what happened that day and apply it in networking situations.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Pretzel Principle:

P – Give them a PRESENT (not necessarily a real present – it can be a tip, a recommendation, a compliment…)
T – TELL your story
Z – But with ZERO hard sell
E – EXPECT nothing
L – LEARN from the experience