I recently attended a networking seminar (actually an informal gathering of bright people) that was inspired by the Seth Godin book “Purple Cow.” It was a fun and interesting event punctuated by excited folks sharing their entrepreneurial ideas and…you guessed it – great networking!
What struck me the most was the amazing cross-section of people, what they do for a living, and the ideas they brought to the seminar to pitch. The concept is simple: You pitch your idea to the group and ask for feedback and advice. It is fun and energizing. Everyone I met I now consider a part of my expanding network, and some have joined the ToddCohen.com Sales Community. There were people there who can help me and – more importantly – whom I can help. I think we all have to remember that one key idea of networking is to generously listen and help. Networking is a two-way street.
That is networking at work! In attendance was Oliver Picher, a savvy marketing guy I met networking. Oliver pitched his new Blog FunwithNetworking.com. His idea is simple – Philadelphia needs a clearinghouse of networking events. Oh, man is he right! Take a look. It’s a great work in progress.
4 thoughts on “Networking at Work!”
Todd – I think the best point you bring up here is that networking is a two way street. Obviously, as sales professionals we’re trying to get something out of the relationship but it’s good to think about our value to other people.
My question is: listening is free, but time is money. How do you evaluate your “good” networking relationships? Is there such thing as a bad one?
I agree that Purple Cow is a fabulous opportunity for networking. The focus on “the idea” makes it a great venue for that 2-way street, where you are not only asking for help but also sincerely providing help and support for others.
Thanks for the mention of my blog, FunWithNetworking.com. People should also check out the community-driven directory of Philadelphia networking events, PHLNetworking.pbwiki.com. It’s still in its formative stages, and I welcome any comments or feedback that anyone might have.
I think that one should never think of anyone you meet as a good or bad networking relationship, because you just never know who knows who. I do think that when you have a goal and an idea of what you need then that helps you know where to network and then you should meet the kind of people that you need to. Pick and choose carefully and LISTEN to everyone. You will get better and know who to sped time with and who to politely move on from.
The question of how to evaluate “good” networking relationships is about as mind-bending as a zen koan. [I’m assuming that, given context, “good” means “likely profitable for business, directly or indirectly, now or in the future.”] A speaker, for example, once told me that he landed a client due to a referral from someone who heard him speak at a conference 5 years earlier. No relationship-nurturing there, yet it worked and timing was right. I recently met another person who, despite nurturing relationships to the best of his abilities, has not landed a client in the past 2 years. And let me not forget a former colleague who, yes!, successfully landed clients, yet consistently these were dysfunctional business relationships characterized by great stress that took an incredible physical and emotional toll.
This, to me, is the nature of relationships – no “good”, no “bad” – just experiences that unfold in ways that we may try to predict, yet ultimately can’t control. What’s the one thing we do control? How and why we network. This puts the onus back on our own intentions.
If your intention is to stimulate sales and referrals; or if your intention is to build your own personal brand (see Tom Peters: “The Brand Called You”); or both: How effective is your current networking style? If it’s not yielding the results you intended, how can it be tweaked? It’s an iterative, organic process.