Real Connections in Networking

Communication is the backbone of business and management, just as it is the framework of good family relationships.  

I network as easily as I breathe. I am an extrovert’s extrovert and can chat people up nearly anywhere, any time, and usually leave them with a smile on their face. Sometimes the interaction goes further, but many times it is just a surface thing.

I know that networking is much, much more difficult for introverts, and yet it is the lifeblood of business, philanthropy, teamwork and even your personal relationships.

How do we get past the “What do you do for a living?” and “Where are you from?” or “What did you do in school today?” chit-chat level of communication and networking? Is it even possible?

There are many books and theories on the subject, and I am sharing two with you that I found to be extremely helpful. They have one major characteristic in common; they stress authentic relationship over surface contact and the automatic proffering of the business card.

Intentional NetworkerThe first is Patti DeNucci’s “The Intentional Networker.”  Patti has not only researched and distilled the “how” of networking authentically for you, she has also communicated “why” you would want to do it that way. She stresses being focused in your networking and always very respectful of other people’s time and stories. It is a quick read, but filled with take away information you will need as you use the world of networking to increase your effectiveness. This information is from a business perspective, but I found it very useful in personal networking, as well.

The Ripple EffectThe second is Steve Harper’s “The Ripple Effect.” Steve is known as “The Ripple Man” in Austin circles, and he is a gifted communicator and presenter, but also a self-professed introvert. It doesn’t keep him from spreading the word of the Ripple, however. I first saw Steve present at the Women’s Collective Giving Network Conference in Austin a couple of years ago, and he knocked me out. In 8 minutes, his technique transformed tables of individual women from all over the country into tables of friends. The questions that he suggested we ask each other were unexpectedly profound, even when they seemed whimsical or silly on the surface. In a couple of minutes, people were talking about very deep concepts with total strangers and connections began to form. The energy of the room began to change, and when the 8 minutes was through, it was a completely different atmosphere. I was immediately aware of the value this could bring to my relationships, both personal and professional.

If you are in the Austin, Texas area, you can even come to monthly “Ripple Meet-Ups” to learn more and hone your networking skills. Check this out at Ripple Central. It is a very supportive atmosphere and all are welcome.

So, should you read these books? I recommend it. Or read some other book that catches your interest in the subject, but don’t neglect this important part of your career, relationships, and friendships. Learn to ask the unusual questions when you meet someone and then authentically listen and process what they are telling you. Answer that same question for them, if time and opportunity allows. You will find unexpected connections all around you.

This is particularly effective when talking with your children, whether they are young or adult. Surprise them with one of Steve’s questions and then use Patti’s respectful and thoughtful technique that holds space for them to speak into freely. Imagination is welcome here, and you will be in awe at the inner thoughts and life that each of your children has and will share a little with you.

As Steve would say, “Ripple On!”

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