Non-Slimy Networking

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The word networking has a bad reputation. Many of us think networking is somehow slimy, inauthentic, uncomfortable, and/or old-school. And we recoil at the idea of networking to advance our businesses, projects, and careers.

Yet some of us say that networking is one of the most wonderful, powerful tools to have in your professional toolkit.  How can this be true?

It’s in the intent.

Networking with someone in order to complete a transaction (e.g make a sale, get a lead, land a job, or capture an endorsement) is  slimy, inauthentic, uncomfortable, and old-school. Networking to connect, relate, care, listen, refer, share, and ask for and give insight and guidance is what really makes the world go ’round.


In yours corner,


PS: Going for the transaction is a win-lose approach that mostly generates bad feelings and resistance. Going for the connection and conversation is win-win and often creates sales, jobs, and endorsements as by-products.

PPS: You can’t tell from the techniques used whether someone (even you) is networking for win-win or for win-lose. But you can definitely feel the difference. They can, too.

Today’s photo credit: unclesond via photopin cc


How to Reach Out to New People

Posted Leave a commentPosted in We=All Who Matter
Reading time: 3 min.

Most of us need to reach out to new people from time to time. Maybe you are selling or developing products or services. Perhaps you want to find the best people to hire. You might need partners for a new venture. Or perhaps you need some other specialized knowledge.

If you know people who fit the bill, you can connect with a simple call, text, visit, or email. But if you don’t know the person you want to reach or if you don’t know who exactly you might contact, then how do you reach out?

Simple. Just grow your network:

  1. Start with people you know. Make a list of friends, family, and colleagues who might be able to help you. Then start contacting them.
  2. Ask who they know. Explain what you are up to and why then ask, “Do you know–or know of someone who might know–…?” (Fill in either the name of the person or the type of person you are looking for.)
  3. Ask for an introduction. “Would you be willing to introduce us?”
  4. Thank them.
  5. Repeat. For each person they introduced you to who might know the person or type of person you wish to reach, contact that person and repeat the process above from step 2.
  6. Reach out. If they introduced you to the person or type of person you wish to connect with, then reach out. Explain what you are up to and ask, “Would you be willing to have a chat/call/meeting and explore what you are focused on and whether what I am doing would make sense for you?”


In your corner,



PS: If you fear inconveniencing people, remember that most people would be honored to help. Consider how you would feel if a friend asked you.

PPS: Make it easy for others to help you. Promise to keep the conversation (at least this part of the conversation) short. Find times that are convenient for them. And thank them for their help.

PPPS: Of course, you can always directly contact the person you wish to speak with. Try sending an email that explains what you are up to and why then asks if they’d be willing to explore what they are up to and the possibility of working together.

PPPPS: Keep growing: you can ask, at the end of any exploratory meeting, who that person thinks you also should speak with.

PPPPPS: If you end up speaking to more than a few people, it may help to have a system to track your contacts, referrals, and conversations with people.


Today’s photo credit: opensourceway via photopin cc


Small Talk Not Needed

Posted 4 CommentsPosted in We=All Who Matter
Reading time: 4 min.

Many of us–introverts and extroverts alike–have trouble meeting and engaging new people at networking events, conferences, and meetings. We feel out of place, exposed, and awkward. Yuck.

Luckily, we can have the benefits of meeting new people (including ideas, opportunities, potential partnerships and friendships) without the discomfort. Instead of small talk (“How about those Jays?”), try some of these approaches.

Turn the camera. When you are feeling uncomfortable, notice where you place your attention: on you. The more you focus on you in these situations, the worse you will feel and the less time and energy you will have for the conversation. Turn the camera toward them: tell yourself that your job is to focus on the other person (see the ‘curiosity’ and ‘questions’ items below).

Pretend. Did you ever notice that you have much less trouble at these events when you have an official role? At the next event you attend–without trying to replace the real host(s)–pretend that you are the host. Ask yourself, “What would the host say to this person? How would she say it?”

Give a gift.  What are the other person’s stories? What holds their attention these days? What do they care about?  What challenges/projects do they face? We give them a great gift when we listen. And we give ourselves the gift of a much more enjoyable time.

They are just as terrified. Remember that most people you meet at these events are in the same boat: they, too, feel out of place, exposed, or awkward. Some may not. Some may have good tactics to cover their discomfort. When you recognize this mutual fear, you will relax. You will open a new door to connection and compassion. And you will have successfully turned the camera.

Flex. We all have preferred ways of communicating. We notice it mostly in our pace of speech, tone of speech, and body language. Rather than defending against another person’s style, flex to it. Spend a few seconds at the start of a conversation matching their pace, tone, and body language. Even a little flexing like this has an odd way of calming us all now.

Go with curiosity. One way to turn the camera away from yourself and toward the other person is to be curious. “I wonder what they will say? What makes this person tick? What do they think is important?” Curious is much easier than defended.

A few questions. Having ready a few open-ended questions can take out much of the nervousness of these conversations. Try questions like, “What is your connection to this event?” “Outside of your work, where do you enjoy spending your time?” and “What projects at home or work have you finished most recently?”

Graceful exits. We sometimes fear getting trapped speaking with certain meeting attendees. We don’t want to be rude and we really want to get away. Here are two options. Option 1) Go for a firm and friendly conversation close. With respect, interject. Thank them for their time, ask to exchange business cards (you did bring your business cards, right?), ask if it would be okay to follow up with them sometime via email or LinkedIn, then say goodbye. Option 2) Adding on. Ask if you may add someone to the conversation. If yes, then make an introduction to someone you know. Get the new conversation started amongst the three of you. Decide then whether you’d like to stay or find another conversation. Watch carefully your intent here. If you use these as just a tactics to get away, you can do damage. You can gracefully leave a conversation by first committing to be kind (really, really) then exiting.

Breathe. When we are nervous, we forget to breathe well. Catch yourself if you are nervous during an event. Quietly and discreetly take in and let out three long, slow breaths. Ahhhh.

These approaches will help you give and get the benefits of connecting with others at events. And without the need to talk about the weather.


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: Joanne Wan cc


Career “Shoulds”

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Career, Job search, Sweetspot
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“How does your resume look? Do you have an MBA? Did you have an overseas assignment? Do you have this qualification and that training? They look at these things you know. How long have you been in your current role? You really should have more start-up/big-company/finance/sales/operations experience.”

Well-meaning people can “should” all over you when it comes to career advice. They make assumptions about what companies might need, want, desire from you–what boxes you will need to tick to pass muster. While there are grains of truth behind what they say you should do or have–some roles do honestly need an MBA–most of it is immaterial at best. At worst, their recommendations are a recipe for worry, stress, and disappointment.

Ticking boxes is no way to land a job, not for you. Far better to find your SweetSpot–where you are most engaged, effective, and valuable–choose your course based on your SweetSpot, and then grow your network to include your next employer, client, or business partner.


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: drp via photopin cc

Grow your network

Growing Your Network

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Hiring, Job search, Sales and Influence
Reading time: 1

Networking is the best way to find a new job, client, business partner, or vendor of products or services.

“Yeah, but,” you may protest, “I’ve already tapped my network. No one had a job (or client, partner, vendor) for me.”

Tapping your network can work. Someone you know may have exactly what you are looking for (or need what you have) just when you call. Or not. But people in your network know thousands of people you do not yet know. Chances are great that one or more of those thousands of people will be ready for you. And, like you, they would rather work with someone introduced and even recommended through their network.

Instead of tapping your network, see your job as growing your network until it includes the person who will become your next employer, client, partner, or vendor. Start with people in your network. Ask them for their insight about your goal. Then ask them for guidance: “Who do you recommend I speak with next?”


In your corner,


today’s photo credit: Mikey G Ottawa via photopin cc