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The Anti-Networking Guide

Sahil Bloom

Welcome to the 242 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Wednesday. Join the 57,887 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content,

just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

  • mldsa
  • ,l;cd
  • mkclds

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of"

nested selector

system.

Harsh truth: Networking is dead...

...at least in the traditional sense of the word.

You don’t get anywhere by accumulating thousands of transactional personal and professional connections.

You get somewhere by building genuine relationships:

  • Giving with no intention of receiving in return
  • Acting in the service of others
  • Creating value for those around you

Those who invest in building (rather than networking) will reap the most valuable long-term rewards—health, wealth, and happiness.

Here's a confession: I'm not a natural relationship builder. In fact, I am a bit introverted and socially-anxious, particularly in large group settings like conferences, cocktail parties, and events. And yet, I've built a depth and breadth of connections that has brought me great joy and value over the years.

In this piece, I'll share my core principles of building genuine relationships from scratch in any professional or personal setting.

Whether you're moving to a new area, starting a new job, progressing in your current career, going to a professional event, or just want to make new friends, this guide will help.

Here are my four core "anti-networking" principles that anyone can use:

Principle 1: Find Value-Aligned Rooms

The best advice I've ever received when it comes to building new relationships:

Put yourself into rooms with a high density of value-aligned individuals.

What this means: Think about your core values, hobbies, professional and personal interests, and then consider what "rooms" are likely to filter for people with a similar set.

An example: If I were a dog-owner and loved being outside, local dog parks, outdoor beer gardens, or local walking trails would be locations likely to have a high density of others with similar interests.

The point here is that you can increase your odds of meeting people with whom you will connect by putting yourself in the rooms where several levels of filtering have already occurred before you even arrive.

  • If I were passionate about fitness and health, I would frequent the local farmer's market, the early morning hours at the gym, and local hiking trails.
  • If I were focused on my career in marketing, I would look up any local marketing mixers or events and attend any social media or creator conferences.
  • If I were into books and art, I would join a local book club, go to art gallery openings, and join the local museum community.

In professional tracks, the rooms are usually easier to find, as your business or company will have specific conferences, events, cocktail parties, or dinners they might suggest you attend. In your personal life, you will need to do a bit more work to find these rooms.

Place yourself into the right rooms and you'll already be well-positioned to build new relationships.

Principle 2: Ask Engaging Questions

Once you're in the rooms, strike up conversations with new people.

A warm hello and a smile is generally a great place to start, as it tends to be disarming and cut the tension in any situation.

From there, I have a few go-to questions that I have found create reliably engaging discourse:

  • What's your connection to [insert current place or event]?
  • What are you most excited about currently?
  • What's lighting you up outside of work?
  • What’s your favorite book you’ve read recently?

Note: Always avoid "What do you do?" as a question. It's generic and generally gets you a cookie-cutter, automated response, or an uncomfortable one if the person doesn't feel proud of their work. “What are you most excited about right now?” leads to more personal, interesting replies, and increased conversation momentum.

If you're socially anxious, much of your nervousness in these situations arises from a self-induced pressure to be "interesting" to other people.

Flip it around—focus on being interested. Ask engaging questions. It's much easier (and more effective).

Principle 3: Become a Level 2-3 Listener

There is a concept I love that there are three levels of listening:

  1. "Me" Listening: You're having a conversation, but your internal voice is relating everything you hear to something in your own life. Your internal voice runs off on tangents, thinking about your own life while the other person is talking about theirs. You're waiting to speak, not listening to learn. This is the default mode of listening for everyone.
  2. "You" Listening: You're having a conversation, and you are deeply focused on what the other person is saying. You are present and intently focused. You're not waiting to speak, you're listening to learn.
  3. "Us" Listening: You're building a "map" of the other person, understanding how all the new information they are sharing fits into that broader map of their life and world. You're listening to understand, considering the layers beneath what the other person is saying.

Most people default to Level 1 listening—but charismatic people have a practiced intention around Level 2 and Level 3 listening.

If you want to build new, genuine relationships, you have to live in Level 2 and Level 3.

Be a loud listener: After you ask questions, lean in, show your focus and presence with body language, facial expressions, and sounds.

As you listen, make mental notes of a few pertinent facts about the person, their interests, or anything else that jumps out to you. These will become relevant alongside Principle 4.

Principle 4: Use Creative Follow-Ups

When a conversation has run its course, don't feel a pressure to strain to keep it going.

Exit gracefully: I've always found, "It was so great meeting you, I look forward to seeing you again soon!" works well in any personal or professional setting. If it makes sense, you can offer to share contact information for the future.

Following the conversation, log the mental notes you made (in your phone or a notebook) and create a plan to follow up in the days ahead.

As an example, I used to talk about my favorite books with new people. If it struck me as a relationship I hoped to deepen, I would follow up by sending the person a copy of the book with a handwritten note to their office. I’ve built many great mentor relationships with that as the start.

A few ideas for thoughtful, creative follow-ups:

  • Share an article or podcast that you think the person will like for a specific reason.
  • Provide value in the form of a new idea related to one of their points of professional tension that was uncovered in the conversation.
  • Offer to connect them with another friend given a shared interest.

The aim is to show that you were listening intently and that you took the initiative to follow up.

Playing "hard to get" is for children. Invest energy in building new, genuine relationships and you will be rewarded.

Note: If you didn't share information, you may need to use a bit of research and finesse to get a physical office address or email address. For instance, if you didn’t get their email address at the event, guess it:

  • [first name] @ [company] . com
  • [first initial] [last name] @ [company] . com
  • [first name] . [last name] @ [company] . com
  • [last name] @ [company] . com

Email address data shows those syntax structures cover over 80% of emails. A little bit of hustle goes a long way!

Less Networking, More Building

Remember: Relationship satisfaction impacts health.

An 80+ year study at Harvard revealed that relationship satisfaction at age 50 was the single greatest predictor of physical health at age 80.

Relationships are, quite literally, everything.

Stop networking.

Use these four principles of “anti-networking” and start building genuine relationships—they will pay dividends in all areas of your life for many years to come.

The Anti-Networking Guide

Sahil Bloom

Welcome to the 242 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Wednesday. Join the 57,887 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content,

just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

  • mldsa
  • ,l;cd
  • mkclds

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of"

nested selector

system.

Harsh truth: Networking is dead...

...at least in the traditional sense of the word.

You don’t get anywhere by accumulating thousands of transactional personal and professional connections.

You get somewhere by building genuine relationships:

  • Giving with no intention of receiving in return
  • Acting in the service of others
  • Creating value for those around you

Those who invest in building (rather than networking) will reap the most valuable long-term rewards—health, wealth, and happiness.

Here's a confession: I'm not a natural relationship builder. In fact, I am a bit introverted and socially-anxious, particularly in large group settings like conferences, cocktail parties, and events. And yet, I've built a depth and breadth of connections that has brought me great joy and value over the years.

In this piece, I'll share my core principles of building genuine relationships from scratch in any professional or personal setting.

Whether you're moving to a new area, starting a new job, progressing in your current career, going to a professional event, or just want to make new friends, this guide will help.

Here are my four core "anti-networking" principles that anyone can use:

Principle 1: Find Value-Aligned Rooms

The best advice I've ever received when it comes to building new relationships:

Put yourself into rooms with a high density of value-aligned individuals.

What this means: Think about your core values, hobbies, professional and personal interests, and then consider what "rooms" are likely to filter for people with a similar set.

An example: If I were a dog-owner and loved being outside, local dog parks, outdoor beer gardens, or local walking trails would be locations likely to have a high density of others with similar interests.

The point here is that you can increase your odds of meeting people with whom you will connect by putting yourself in the rooms where several levels of filtering have already occurred before you even arrive.

  • If I were passionate about fitness and health, I would frequent the local farmer's market, the early morning hours at the gym, and local hiking trails.
  • If I were focused on my career in marketing, I would look up any local marketing mixers or events and attend any social media or creator conferences.
  • If I were into books and art, I would join a local book club, go to art gallery openings, and join the local museum community.

In professional tracks, the rooms are usually easier to find, as your business or company will have specific conferences, events, cocktail parties, or dinners they might suggest you attend. In your personal life, you will need to do a bit more work to find these rooms.

Place yourself into the right rooms and you'll already be well-positioned to build new relationships.

Principle 2: Ask Engaging Questions

Once you're in the rooms, strike up conversations with new people.

A warm hello and a smile is generally a great place to start, as it tends to be disarming and cut the tension in any situation.

From there, I have a few go-to questions that I have found create reliably engaging discourse:

  • What's your connection to [insert current place or event]?
  • What are you most excited about currently?
  • What's lighting you up outside of work?
  • What’s your favorite book you’ve read recently?

Note: Always avoid "What do you do?" as a question. It's generic and generally gets you a cookie-cutter, automated response, or an uncomfortable one if the person doesn't feel proud of their work. “What are you most excited about right now?” leads to more personal, interesting replies, and increased conversation momentum.

If you're socially anxious, much of your nervousness in these situations arises from a self-induced pressure to be "interesting" to other people.

Flip it around—focus on being interested. Ask engaging questions. It's much easier (and more effective).

Principle 3: Become a Level 2-3 Listener

There is a concept I love that there are three levels of listening:

  1. "Me" Listening: You're having a conversation, but your internal voice is relating everything you hear to something in your own life. Your internal voice runs off on tangents, thinking about your own life while the other person is talking about theirs. You're waiting to speak, not listening to learn. This is the default mode of listening for everyone.
  2. "You" Listening: You're having a conversation, and you are deeply focused on what the other person is saying. You are present and intently focused. You're not waiting to speak, you're listening to learn.
  3. "Us" Listening: You're building a "map" of the other person, understanding how all the new information they are sharing fits into that broader map of their life and world. You're listening to understand, considering the layers beneath what the other person is saying.

Most people default to Level 1 listening—but charismatic people have a practiced intention around Level 2 and Level 3 listening.

If you want to build new, genuine relationships, you have to live in Level 2 and Level 3.

Be a loud listener: After you ask questions, lean in, show your focus and presence with body language, facial expressions, and sounds.

As you listen, make mental notes of a few pertinent facts about the person, their interests, or anything else that jumps out to you. These will become relevant alongside Principle 4.

Principle 4: Use Creative Follow-Ups

When a conversation has run its course, don't feel a pressure to strain to keep it going.

Exit gracefully: I've always found, "It was so great meeting you, I look forward to seeing you again soon!" works well in any personal or professional setting. If it makes sense, you can offer to share contact information for the future.

Following the conversation, log the mental notes you made (in your phone or a notebook) and create a plan to follow up in the days ahead.

As an example, I used to talk about my favorite books with new people. If it struck me as a relationship I hoped to deepen, I would follow up by sending the person a copy of the book with a handwritten note to their office. I’ve built many great mentor relationships with that as the start.

A few ideas for thoughtful, creative follow-ups:

  • Share an article or podcast that you think the person will like for a specific reason.
  • Provide value in the form of a new idea related to one of their points of professional tension that was uncovered in the conversation.
  • Offer to connect them with another friend given a shared interest.

The aim is to show that you were listening intently and that you took the initiative to follow up.

Playing "hard to get" is for children. Invest energy in building new, genuine relationships and you will be rewarded.

Note: If you didn't share information, you may need to use a bit of research and finesse to get a physical office address or email address. For instance, if you didn’t get their email address at the event, guess it:

  • [first name] @ [company] . com
  • [first initial] [last name] @ [company] . com
  • [first name] . [last name] @ [company] . com
  • [last name] @ [company] . com

Email address data shows those syntax structures cover over 80% of emails. A little bit of hustle goes a long way!

Less Networking, More Building

Remember: Relationship satisfaction impacts health.

An 80+ year study at Harvard revealed that relationship satisfaction at age 50 was the single greatest predictor of physical health at age 80.

Relationships are, quite literally, everything.

Stop networking.

Use these four principles of “anti-networking” and start building genuine relationships—they will pay dividends in all areas of your life for many years to come.