Transforming Talk at Work | August 2014


Dear reader,

I have a confession to make. Sometimes – in fact, usually – I hate networking.

As a professional speaker who is frequently in the public eye, it is often assumed that networking would come easily for me. In reality, I often cringe when I am expected to walk into a roomful of strangers, pass out glossy business card, and try to remember my elevator pitch. Traditional networking is not my idea of fun.

I happily describe myself as an ambivert, teetering just as frequently to the introverted side of the social see-saw as the extroverted. At a networking event, it can be difficult to find the resolve to “get in the game.” But, once I take that first small step forward, a funny thing happens. I realize that there is one fundamental part of networking that I don’t hate – uncovering the spark of a meaningful connection. All I have to remember is that networking is just a fancy word for meeting people. And I like to meet people. In fact, I love it.

With this new definition of networking, I soon discovered that my next spark of connection often happens in unexpected places. Whether it’s the buffet line at a summer picnic, while watching my son’s T-ball game or a leisurely walk at the lake, all I have to do is stay alert and just keep meeting people.

I certainly don’t click with every person I meet. There doesn’t have to be good chemistry every time. Knowing that is very freeing. The good news? All it takes is one spark to light a fire.

The next time you find yourself hating the idea of networking, apply the steps below and reverse engineer your way to your next meaningful connection.


Reverse Engineer: Your Next Meaningful Connection

1. Remember, networking is just a fancy word for meeting people. A connection can happen anywhere and spark anytime.
2. Make it a point to meet at least one new person everywhere you go.
3. Set your expectations high in terms of quality. Only promise to follow up with someone when there is a spark.
4. Set your expectations low in terms of quantity. One or two sparks of meaningful connection at an event is a terrific success.
5. When you do sense a spark, be sure to follow up. Schedule time in your calendar especially for this task.
6. Repeat steps one through five, and watch your network grow stronger!


Digest This: Networking in the News

A New Uber-Efficient (And More Fun) Way to Network (Forbes)
Vicki Saunders, founder of SheEO, encourages all of us to replace old networking methods with a more selective and generous approach to building our professional tribe. Look for the spark!

How to Get Ahead as a Businesswoman: Order a Whiskey on the Rocks(Quartz)
A recent study found that businesswomen around the world are using “cocktail strategies” to neutralize gender stereotypes and project strength and commitment within their professional network. Bottoms up!

How to Get the Most out of the Network You Already Have (Fast Company)
Make good choices in how you use your network – and remember to use your network – so you don’t need a career “do over” like the former General Manager of did.


My Treat:

A Classic Book Celebrates 25 Years

Susan RoAne’s How to Work a Room is an easy-to-read guide with spot-on advice for putting yourself – and others – at ease in any business or social situation. From initiating engaging conversations to handling awkward topics, the book offers sound techniques for meeting people and building meaningful relationships. Now in its fully revised Silver Anniversary Edition, RoAne is to be commended for her timely updates to a subject that has been changed by technology and evolving social norms. I consider How to Work a Room an essential resource that has become a time-tested classic.


Meet me at the Women’s Networking Luncheon sponsored by Prosperwell Financial at Raddison Blu at the Mall of America (Bloomington, MN) on September 5th to learn more about The Power of Networking. I will be joining four other panelists to discuss tips on how to take full advantage of each networking event you attend. Learn more and register at Prosperwell Financial. Hope to see you there!


Until next time,

Janel Anderson, PhD
Workplace Communication Expert and CEO of Working Conversations

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