Thursday, December 10, 2009


I attended a one hour teleclass by the Los Angeles Chapter of ASTD on Networking hosted by Tom Henschel of Essential Communications. Clearly one hour hardly covers the complexity of networking but Tom discussed some critical points that are important when trying to complete your networking strategy. This blog will cover some of Tom’s key points.

“Networking is about planting, not hunting” was Tom’s lead in. He couldn’t be more on target. I can’t begin to tell of how many times I have been approached by someone at a networking event who wanted something from me, expected me to give it, and had never met me before. The balls on some people. For me, networking is more relationship building than anything else. My goal at any event where networking is an activity is to build relationships and get to know the people in the room, nothing more. I am not looking to sell them anything or even pitch an idea. Typically I reroute conversations away from me and I start asking questions about them. These questions derive from a genuine interest also. Which brings us to a second point made by Tom.

“Be Genuine when you are networking”. Tom seems to subscribe to the Networking School of Trust. A phony might as well walk around with a tattoo on his or her head saying, “It’s all about me”. I like to get into the mindset that I am at this event to prove that the people in the room are way smarter than me. This allows me to want to learn from them. Also, my listening skills become activated because there is no other agenda.

Keep the close for another time. I paraphrase Tom a little here but in essence, he is stating that closing a stranger during networking is like, “proposing to a blind date when you first meet them”. What a way to lose trust (and not know what you’re getting into). It’s so hard to get trust and to waste it on a selfish agenda should be a crime.

Tom further gave a few tips on “ Elevator speeches”. As professionals, these are common and often an aspect of networking that sees the poorest performance from many people. For those reading who may not be familiar with this, the “Elevator Speech” is a high level and very short summary of who you are and the value you bring. You’re stuck in an elevator for about 20 to 30 seconds with the CEO of a company you would like to work for or do business with, what do you say to leave an impression before the doors open again. You can stare at the ascending or descending numbers or make the most of that brief but valuable time period. Here’s 3 of Tom’s suggestions on making your pitch memorable:

  • Use numbers and specific language - “I’d like to tell you three things about my company”
  • Use short labels – “I’m in the Talent Harvesting Business”
  • Make the pitch repeatable

So let’s summarize here. Here is the executive review of Tom Henschel’s teleseminar on Networking. It also includes a few other key points that I didn’t elaborate on.

  • Networking is about planting not hunting
  • Be genuine when you are networking
  • Keep the close for another time and event
  • Make your (Elevator) Pitch” memorable
  • When networking, think, “stop talking sooner”
  • Follow up with those you meet
  • Be positive
  • Forecast your question before the event

Networking can be a powerful skill. Like all skills, it takes careful preparation and flawless execution to bear a bountiful harvest. Thanks Tom for you tips and advice.

You can follow me on twitter @TerrenceWing.

No comments:

Post a Comment