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3 CRITICAL networking skills

Most of my experience regarding networking comes from a company known as BNI- Business Networking International. In my first job with the New Orleans Hornets, I was fortunately able to join this exclusive group at the expense of the Hornets. I wanted to tell the story of how I went from being a lowly college student to a sufficient networker in just a few months.

When I first walked into an old, classic New Orleans Restaurant known as Dooky Chase- I didn’t know what to think. I was escorted to a back room specifically for this meeting. There were a bunch of people scattered throughout the room, some with business suits on, some with cargo shorts and t-shirts on. Some of the attendees were lawyers, some were plumbers. Everyone had one thing in common-they were business people attempting to grow their business. Coming out of college, beginning my first “real” job, I was greener than California’s government. I had no experience and didn’t know where to start, but I love people and I’m good at public speaking.

I learned three CRITICAL factors in networking that day. Those three factors are;

  1. Givers gain
  2. Relationships, relationships, relationships
  3. Networking takes hard work, it doesn’t fall in your lap.

I found very early on that there were some members of this group that were “window shopping” they were there just to see what business would fall into their laps and to say that they were actively networking.

*NETWORKERS NOTE* If you are going to attend an event- work hard at the event- don’t just go for the coffee or the food. It is Net WORK not net SIT or net EAT.

The most successful networkers I know are the people who have learned to be givers WITHOUT EXPECTATION. I know far too many people who only give because they expect something in return. That is worthless. In life, givers gain. When you give without expectations people feel the genuine attitude and they can’t help but want to help you out. When you give with expectations it is easily snuffed out. Next time you are with someone, focus on what you can do for them and not what they can do for you. I think you will be amazed at how successful you become. I am fanatical about being a giver in life.

Strong relationships equal strong referrals. Seek to build personal relationships with those whom you are networking with OUTSIDE of business. Find out about them and build friendships. You will be amazed at what will happen. One of my favorite things to do after you meet someone is to send them a hand written thank you note. EVERYONE gets hundreds of e-mails a day, how many thank you notes do they get? Use that as an opportunity to stand out among the crowd of people they just met and then attempt to meet with that person one to one to learn about them and their business so that you can become a giver.

To be successful at the two aforementioned topics above, it takes a lot of hard work. Learn to work hard at relationships and you will be a successful networker. People are in love with themselves, attempt to be a person who listens to them and encourages them to love themselves rather than engaging in a contest of who can talk more about themselves. It all takes WORK!

If you have any questions about what I have discussed here or just want to say something different- post it in the comments section.

Happy networking!


  1. February 9, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    I’ve always heard about the “thank you note” but I don’t know many people who use it. I bet it makes the best impression though. Especially today with everything being an e-Mail, Facebook, Twitter post, blog etc. I bet when someone get s a nice card or note in the old ‘snail mail’, they get really excited!

    • February 9, 2012 at 3:10 pm

      Thank you so much for commenting! Man, I thought a hand written note was so stupid, until I did it. The response was amazing! Back in 1997, everyone loved 3 words- You’ve Got Mail! now they get so many e-mails that they love a hand written letter. It’s incredible. Check out the book The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk. Some incredible ideas.

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