Networking…. It’s Elementary

27 Sep

By: Sheilah Griggs


Copyright Health Care Leaders:

The word “networking”, while creating an orgasmic flurry of excitement in some, can often cause an otherwise mature adult to roll their eyes like a teenage girl. Why such extreme reactions? The one panting thinks he will meet someone at the next meeting that will make him a millionaire and the other sees it as a waste of time because the guy living from event to event is doing so over a garage.

Networking alone does not put food on the table nor does being a hermit help grow your business. If you are fortunate enough to have a team where the introverted workaholic is balanced by the gifted socialite, then your chances for success are good. But what if YOU are the team?

Regardless of the scenario, everyone can find their balance if they stay networking neutral. How do you do that? Well, first of all, stop looking at it as “networking” and start looking at it as making friends. Now, what did we learn about making friends in elementary school…. Be nice, don’t interrupt and share your toys. Things really aren’t that different – our clothes are just bigger.

Nobody liked the pushy bully in school and now he’s grown up to be a salesman – no matter what he’s selling, people will go hide in the corner to escape his mouth. Selling should not be your goal. Building a relationship should be. You can’t expect a deal to close on the first night…. people who do that are called sluts, if you recall. So, be patient, be charming, and be liked.

Arcadia Playground

Copyright Arcadia Playground:

Nobody really liked the snotty “soch” that wouldn’t share her Aqua Net and talked about, well, about herself. So focus on asking questions and give your elevator pitch in a conversational way and when solicited. Don’t worry, people will ask what you “do” because it’s more comfortable than asking who you “are” on a first date.

The shy girl always on the sideline at the high school dance probably grew up and created something amazing like the windshield wiper. But, at a networking event, she’s probably still waiting for someone to smile her way. Be the one who does it! Bring someone out of their shell and they’ll never forget you. If you were the star quarterback, probably by now your waist line is higher than the number on your jersey but all of that attention probably gave you quite a bit of confidence. Use your powers for good – help someone feel part of the action. Be helpful to someone else and you will be remembered.

Of course, if we only knew back then that the “nerd” would grow up to run a Fortune 500, we might have said yes when he asked us out. So, when someone who doesn’t seem like your “type” wants to chat or grab coffee, take the half hour to do so. You’ll still have friends the next day at the lunch table, trust me.

In a way, all this “networking” stuff is really very old school. In all of this over sharing and electronic communication we’ve seemed to have forgotten the art of conversation…. but that’s for another blog.


4 Responses to “Networking…. It’s Elementary”

  1. janet September 27, 2010 at 6:07 pm #

    Great post. Saying yes to the “nerd” in high school who goes on to run a Fortune 500 company always reminds me of the movie “Peggy Sue Got Married” with Kathleen Turner and Nicholas Cage. She goes back in time to the late 50s when she was just a teenager, and despite having the advantage of “knowing then” what she “knows now” ends up with the same man. However, her hindsight works to her advantage as she teams up with said nerd to invent pantyhose. So, while her heart followed the same path, her mind played to her strengths, and recognized people for who they are and who they will become — she made a friend and a fortune in the process.

  2. Frank Madonia September 28, 2010 at 3:26 pm #


    Its so true how people forget about the basics- balance in work, Team approach, build relationships. We tend to see more people throw-up on people ( when they first meet) and derail the conversation onto some worthless unrelated tangent and telling them way to much information. It is very similar to building a personal relationship- networking starts with asking good questions, allowing the person to enter their comfort zone and engage in the conversation. We as humans are naturally curious and will ask questions if given the opportunity. We are not a shy society, we create reasons not to interact like the old school methods of knocking on doors. How did you grow up meeting people? Hey Suzie go say hello to the new neighbors, not wait until they invite you over.. I know acquaintances that still don’t know there neighbors first or last names or occupations.. Imagine that, living next to total strangers day in and day out. What has our society taught us? texing, emailing, FB – thats networking at its finest.. Put a person in the streets and see how far they get- ? Are we really prepared to do business . cultivate relationships, create jobs and opportunities? People don’t quit jobs they quit environments that they are no longer comfortable or seen as valued within the organization.. When is the last time you were praised for your work, ? Just my thoughts and comments to your wonderful Blog!

    Frank Madonia

  3. lopa insurance October 3, 2010 at 6:35 pm #

    Great writing! I wish you could follow up to this topic?!

  4. Linda October 20, 2010 at 4:38 pm #

    What a great post! I feel the term networking is over-used these days, so I agree with this paragraph “Regardless of the scenario, everyone can find their balance if they stay networking neutral. How do you do that? Well, first of all, stop looking at it as “networking” and start looking at it as making friends.”
    Have a wonderful day.

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