If you have met me at our Urbano events, you will know that whilst I always wear a variety of orange ties, I am probably the least qualified person to be handing out fashion advice. I wear orange ties so that I can be pointed out in a crowded room if someone needs an introduction and orange is Urbano’s brand colour. But it also because it helps to associate what I hope was a warm memory of an enjoyable and valuable experience of that Urbano event.
I started keeping to this sartorial rule when networking after hosting a large round-table event where everyone stood and delivered their one-minute about their companies. After hearing from around 40 people, a good hour had passed and I decided to test if anyone could remember anything specific about a person and their company.
The most memorable person seemed to be the owner of a ‘gardening’ company (she actually provided plants to office receptions) mainly because she was also wearing a green brooch. No-one else’s presentation came close in stimulating such recall and I decided there and then to always wear something associated with the brand (I settled on an orange tie rather than jewellery).
I can meet hundreds of people each month and those that wear something memorable – hats, tartan coats and even silver beards – are easier to find in a room and also easier to remember details about the services their company offers.
I am not suggesting that everyone who favours a grey suit should wear a polka dot tie or clip-on brooch – though Barry Hearn told an Urbano audience that he owed his career in sports promotion to wearing a white suit in his early accountancy days. But do consider how you can make it easier for those that have met you for the first time to remember you and also associate that encounter with positive memories.
But the most important ties you need to remember are the value in those weak ones you should keep adding to your own personal network. Studies by Mark Granovetter, the American sociologist and Stanford University professor, on information distribution across social networks, demonstrate that having a large network of weak ties is more valuable to both individuals and the companies they work for in areas like recruitment and critical new business knowledge.
Growing and cultivating these weak ties (or Contacts and Connections as I label them), can help give a company and its representatives achievable and even measurable goals in its networking, whether at events or online through tools like LinkedIn.
Sometimes less is more; and concentrating on adding more weaker ties is often more valuable than purely focusing on developing strong relationships with a few. I think those that strike a healthy balance ultimately get the most out of their networking.
And at your next networking event, remember to always say hi and bye to the man in the orange tie.
Photo Credit: Diane Keaton in Annie Hall (1977) – Iconic and distinctive style