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spike bullet June 2006 - Networking for Fun and Profit

What is Networking?
Networking Examples / Case Studies 
Networking Tips - Barbara Taylor
Networking Tips - Experience Unlimited
Networking Tips - Susann Linn
Resources (links, books, articles, the lighter side)

color bulletNetworking for Fun and Profit

What is networking?  Networking is the skill (some would say it is an "art") of developing a solid cadre of contacts that can assist each other in achieving success.

Why network?  In addition to achieving business success, you can develop new friends, learn new information, help others and build a solid base of support for almost any endeavor.

When to network?  Always, no matter where you are.

How to network?  Man and woman chatting over coffee

  1. Practice, practice, practice!  Use the tips in this article at your next opportunity.  
  2. Share information, referrals or resources with others whenever you can.  
  3. Get to know other people, learn what they do, what they like and what they need.  
  4. When attending a networking dinner or professional group meeting, pretend you are the host or hostess.  
  5. Encourage other people to introduce themselves.  Develop some simple opening questions like "Where do you work?" "What brought you to this event?" "What do you like most about your job (or this group or this area or . .)?"  
  6. Pass out your business cards and get business cards from others.  Write on the back of the card the date, location and something about each person to help you remember them.  If there is something you can offer them right away, write that on the back of your card and give it to them.  
  7. If you promise them some information, referral or resource, make sure to follow-through and deliver on your promise.

Where to network?  Everywhere you go: business meetings, social gatherings, childrenís events, office get-togethers, professional groups ó anywhere there are other people.

Networking examples / case studies

Setting: Contacted by an executive recruiter, I met with him for a casual chat on a Saturday morning.  We visited for a while and discussed several opportunities he was working on.  He called me on Monday to report that after he met with me, he went to a picnic with a number of friends and was asking them if they knew me.  Turns out, most of them did and he was very impressed.  He submitted my name for a high-level job, partly because so many people that he knew also knew me and could give good references on my work ethic.  While that particular job didnít work out, it did give us a chance to work together and we became professional friends.

Setting: A man wrote to me from another country and asked to join our mailing list.  He mentioned that he was interested in some particular types of workshops.  With his permission, I passed his name along to a friend who seemed to be the best fit.  I found out much later that my friend made a trip to that country to give a workshop.  When the man I referred and a woman there both attended my friendsí workshop, they talked with each other and shared their interests.  She was looking for someone in sing in her choir at church and he was interested in finding a compatible church where he could sing in the choir.  It was magical to see how 2 people in the U.S. were able to connect 2 people in another country on the other side of the world.

Setting:  A professional group meeting.  You know the kind ó 8 or 10 people to a table for chicken dinner and a professional presentation of some kind.  I  sat at a table near the front, introduced myself to the others at the table (as I had been taught by Susann Linn in her Networking classes).  We all chatted, exchanged business cards and had dinner.  After dinner, one of the women at my table turned out to be the eveningís speaker.  During dinner, we had chatted about what we were each doing in our professional lives.  She had recently left a corporate job and was starting her own business.  I asked if she would be interested in another group I belonged to and we exchanged that information.  After that dinner, I didnít see her again for awhile.  She did attend the group I mentioned and found that it wasnít for her.  Many months later, I got a call to assist someone in preparing a proposal.  They had gotten my name from some else.  After a meeting to see whether I wanted to go forward with the work, I was introduced to the president of the company.  You guessed it ó it was that same woman I had met at dinner months earlier.  We had a chance to work together on the proposal and her growing company eventually became one of my best clients and she became a good friend.

Setting:  One of several people giving a presentation about starting a business.  One of the other speakers was an internationally known venture capitalist.  As we were chatting after our talk, he offered to give me some free advice.  We spent about an hour talking about a week later.  He gave me some really good insights into what he saw as my strengths and my weaknesses in the job I was doing at the time.  I listened carefully and really thought about his observations.  As it turned out, he was right on although it took a while for the future to play out as he predicted.  He gave me something that no one else had Ė a different way of seeing myself that turned out to be very powerful.  He never asked me for anything, though he did say that if I ever came across the type of young company he specialized in, heíd like to hear about it.  This particular person for me was a "pivotal facilitator" ó someone who helps you make a significant shift or offers insights, advice or assistance in changing course.  They often come into your life for solely that reason and will always leave a lasting impression as this man did for me.

There are hundreds more examples of how networking has worked for me.  Iíve met many new friends, business partners and clients.  It has gotten me several jobs, helped me tap into untold resources and provided more information that I could possibly mention.

Networking Tips from Barbara Taylor:

Advice for people who feel shy or less confident:  As someone who used to be painfully shy, I can attest that anyone can learn to network successfully.  It takes commitment, and practice, practice, practice!  If you focus on learning about other people instead of paying attention to yourself, you will meet the most interesting people.  By the end of an event, you will have forgotten all about your shyness.  Before long, you will overcome your shyness.  

You can never tell where a referral may lead.  As you can see from the few short examples given above, the best networking is where you are seeking to help others.  Itís an example of "what goes around, comes around" or "pay it forward."  If you help others, they will help you when you need help.  Help could be simply referring a name to someone or it could be help finding a job, a doctor, a romantic connection or almost anyone else in the world.

Your goal should be to build your network and to add interesting people to it.  It could be months or years before they can help you.  Be careful asking for significant help right away.  People donít like others who are too aggressive and feel like the only reason you are interested in them is get something from them.

Stay in touch with your network.  Send them articles or refer people to them when you have the chance.  Itís much easier now with the Internet to keep in touch with people all over the world.

Some networking tips from others:

Networking Tips from Experience Unlimited:

Network with everyone you know and everyone one you meet.
Expand your network constantly.
Treat your network with respect.
Watch out for your network and watch for ways to help them.
Offer your help whenever you can.
Respect each otherís time and professionalism.
Keep in touch with members of your network.
Introduce people to each other and share information whenever possible.
Notify your network of news in your life; notify someone when you have given out their name to someone else.
Give more than you get.

Take help when offered, even if you arenít sure what to do with it.
Immediately, follow through on tips or referrals from you network.
Plan ways that you can connect with your network.
See opportunities to network everywhere.

Source: Professional Employment Network (PEN) (now called "Experience Unlimited), division of the California  Employment Development Department.  November 20, 1990: Contributed by Champagne Temporary Help

Effective Networking Tips from Susann Linn

  1. Carry business cards with you at all times.  Your card is your silent sales person, reminding people of you after youíre gone.
  2. Try to meet five new people at each networking meeting.  Make a point of collecting five business cards from people you donít know.  It may be safer and a lot easier to remain with friends, but the point of networking is to widen your circle of contacts.
  3. Networking is an active behavior.  Being a wallflower is not effective in a business situation.  Make the supreme effort of walking up to a stranger and introducing yourself.  Itís usually easier to approach someone who is standing alone.  Frequently, they are alone because this is their first meeting.  Youíll be amazed how relieved they look.
  4. Visit new business organizations regularly.  Opportunities increase the more you make yourself available to new groups of people.  Even if youíre not prospecting for business, you can make contacts for future career possibilities or pick up a vital piece of information that will be useful at your job.
  5. Talk to everyone.  I once met a new client in front of the merry-go-round in South Coast Plaza while we both waited for the optometrist office to open.  You never know who someone is.
  6. Get the other person talking.  Donít talk on and on about what you do.  Ask questions and try to get to know the person youíre speaking with.  Find common areas of interest and definitely obtain a clear idea of his/her line of work.  Itís easy - people love to talk about themselves and usually like to listen.
  7. Be helpful and other-directed.  An attitude of "Whatís in this for me" will severely limit your networking possibilities.  Make suggestions to people, introduce them to someone else in the group, offer to assist them with a problem they may have.  Put it out there ó it will come back to you many times over . . . and not always from the person youíve aided.
  8. Start the ball rolling.  A wonderful trick:  If you are sitting at a table with strangers, pretend you are the host and ask people to introduce themselves around the table.  Itís amazing how this simple step can get everyone talking, help you relax and open up many new networking opportunities for you.
  9. Volunteer your expertise to the group.  The best way to become known in an organization is to be active and visible.  Ideally, become a hoard member or get on a committee.  If you donít have much time to donate, you can still help sign people in or assist with hospitality at the meeting.  You might think in terms of acting like a host or hostess.  If youíre a shy person, this has the double benefit of giving you something to do and a reason to talk to people.
  10. Donít make a beeline for your seat.  Wait until the meeting has officially started before you sit down.  Youíll have plenty of time during the meal to get to know your tablemates.
  11. Be memorable.  If the group youíre attending allows for self-introductions, say something funny, clever or different that helps people remember you.
  12. Be concise.  When introducing yourself to individuals or to the group, describe what you do in a short, easily understood manner.  Thereís no greater turn-off than someone who drones on about his business ó especially if you canít understand it. Talk in "laymanís terms."

Source: Excerpted from "Susann Linnís Directory of Orange County Networking Organizations" 1989 edition

World Wide Web graphic  Internet Resources

book graphic  Books   -  Disclosure: We get a small commission for purchases made via links to Amazon.

  • Orange County Networking Directory (Orange County, CA)  updated annually.  Written by Susann Linn ("Orange County's Networking Queen") for 17 years. 
  • The Networking Survival Guide: Get the Success You Want By Tapping Into the People You Know.  Diane Darling.  McGraw-Hill, 2003. ISBN: 0071409998 
  • Million Dollar Networking: The Sure Way To Find, Keep And Grow Your Business.  Andrea Nierenberg.  Capital Books, 2005.  ISBN: 1933102055
  • Masters of Networking, Ivan Misner and Don Morgan.  Bard Press, 2000.  ISBN: 1885167482

* Footnote:  I dubbed Susann Linn "Orange County's Networking Queen" more than 20 years ago.  The reason?  I attended a networking breakfast and saw Susann there.  The same day, I attended a networking luncheon and saw Susann there, then attended a networking dinner and saw Susann there - all at different groups and different places in Orange County, CA.  At dinner, I teasingly called her "Orange County's Networking Queen" and the name stuck.  Before long, she was publishing her annual Networking Directory of local groups and teaching thousands of people how to network successfully.  Networking became her business not just something she did.  

world wide web - articles  Articles

Related newsletter articles:
      October 1997 - Power and Corporate Politics
      October 1999 - Mentoring
      November 1997 - Learning Flexibility
     March 2001 - Finding the Right Job

 smiley graphic  The Lighter Side  

About our resource links:  We do not endorse or agree with all the beliefs in these links.   We do keep an open mind about different viewpoints and respect the ability of our readers to decide for themselves what is useful.

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