9 Lives for Women Blog

Shallow Networking…So Yesterday | March 20th, 2012

Here’s a networking quiz…which of the following is the most effective way to network?

  1.    Hand out your business card to everyone you meet—and even post it on the community board at the carwash
  2.   Attend every networking meeting that you can find and hand out as many business cards as possible.
  3.    Find a really quiet coffee shop where you can invite good connections for a 30-minute chat about your qualifications.
  4.    Call your best connections and say “let me know if you hear of anything”.

Well, this is a little bit of a trick quiz because there is no right answer.  None of the networking avenues listed above will bring substantial results.   The reason is that networking has become the buzzword of the century, and it can often be a very shallow word.   True networking is making a memorable, lasting connection.

No one knows this better than my very good friend and longtime mentor Ginny Corsi.  The Ginny Corsi Network is known far and wide—and that’s not because she can wallpaper a room with good looking business cards.  Ginny is interested and interesting and she always finds a way to help someone before she asks for help herself.

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking that you barely have time to make dinner let alone figure out how to do favors for a long list of connections.  And to that I say, help comes in many forms.  Ginny is known to help people she just met—through encouragement, a suggestion, an anecdote…very simple, on the spot things that engage people and make them remember her as a person, not just a “networker”.

But I’m rattling on too long here.  I want to share Ginny’s words and her simple tips and techniques for creating real connections in any setting:

E. M. Forster said “Only Connect!” in his literary classic, Howard’s End—describing the need for and lack of human connections.

What would Forster say today about the business of “networking”—the universally suggested path to professional and personal success?

 Difference between networking/connecting

Networking: “ Here’s my card–what can you do for me?”

Connecting: “Let’s meet, discover what we have in common or of interest to both of us, and see how each of us might be helpful to each other.”

Laws of the Universe support “connecting”.

Purpose: to be memorable….”People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”

3rd Biggest Fear in American society: Going into a room of people where you don’t know anyone.

Techniques for Connecting

How do you want to “brand” yourself? Funny, smart, insightful, helpful, creative, nice, agreeable, friendly – then think about behaviors that would exemplify that.

Believe that you are an interesting person. You are. And you are unique. Understand your uniqueness.

Pick a person you think is most interesting, with the brightest colored tie/scarf, piece of jewelry, ring, suit – they wore it to be noticed. Notice and say something about it.

Breaking into a conversation group (very difficult)…stand there, smile, nod, laugh with the others…someone will ask who you are.. “Sorry, don’t want to interrupt. I was enjoying the conversation. I’m …..”

Tips on Small Talk

Possible topics:  the party or gathering…location, geography, weather, something that happened on your way to the party, or conference, or event

When you tell stories, make them short, relevant and “updated”:  Don’t say “10 years ago when I was working in a clothing store..”  Say: “Just yesterday, I was thinking about what I learned that day when I worked in retail”

Be aware of “air time” – everyone should have equal airtime. If one person is monopolizing, say, “That’s a great point! Do you agree with that Ben? Beth?” and get others in the conversation. They will remember you for that.

People don’t remember your name when you are first introduced. Repeat your name again somewhere in the discussion.

Introduce people to others you’ve just met..even if you’ve forgotten their name.

When you’ve forgotten the name of someone you want to introduce, name the one you do know and let the “forgotten” one say his/her name to the other.

Over-introduce….there is no such thing.

All good words from Ginny, and by the way she’s a dynamic speaker, who takes on issues like leadership, risk-taking, career challenges, fear of public speaking and running for office and turns a program into a fun, interactive, practical how-to session.   People who hear Ginny speak are amazed at how funny she is, how pragmatic, helpful and clear she is about workplace and personal issues. She leaves her audience with easy steps to take in every challenge, from figuring out your major if you’re 19 or 49, to how to win in the interview, to what the real qualities are for a woman’s success in the workplace.  Contact Ginny at gincorsi@gmail.com

  • Don’t assume that only outgoing people can make solid networking connections.
  • When it comes to networking, think quality not quantity.
  • Find an on the spot way to help people you meet:  offer information about a college their children are interested in, suggest a great business or generally thought-provoking book, suggest ways that you beat stress when you hear they’re on a tight deadline.  Anything that will help someone remember you.

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