What kind of networker are you?

What kind of a networker are you?

Do your communications and/or marketing freelancers network frequently in their community? Networking is a process that I’m committed to, to stay current with developments in the business community and to build contacts. Networking is all about building and offering quality, not quantity; about educating and promoting, not selling.

Authentic networking means building long-term relationships and not seeking a quick sale.

At the March meeting of the Women Entrepreneurs of SK’s Mentoring Circle (W.E.), member Gail Genest, Representative of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, spoke on the topic of networking recently. Here are some of her highlights:

Networking reflects the law of giving and receiving: you can gain by giving, such as by connecting two individuals when you think that they can help each other. They may then refer you to someone else. The “giving” end of things does the following things:

  1. Giving makes you happy, builds trust and releases endorphins.
  2. Giving keeps you healthy, by lowering blood pressure, stress and depression. You’ll live longer.
  3. Giving promotes social connection—you can gain from helping others.
  4. Giving promotes satisfaction in life, as you cope better with life’s challenges.
  5. Giving brings meaning to your life—you can stop dwelling on what’s concerning you, when you become part of others’ lives.
  6. Giving spreads joy–you can share humour, connection, even whimsy.

Networking has been given a bad name because of the “nuisance networker,” who is aggressive and views everyone as a prospect. This person interrupts others and intrudes on their conversations. We’ve all met one of them before.

A second type of networker is the “newbie networker,” who is shy and uncomfortable and tends to think no prospects are present at the event.

Finally, a third type is a “natural networker,” who uses an elevator speech that they understand and mean and who takes an interest in others’ work. This person puts others at their ease, listens well, asks useful questions and offers to introduce you to others who may be relevant.

Granted, such classifications will be reductive. But if we suspend judgment momentarily, which of Gail’s three categories do you fall into? Or are you a combination of them?

She concluded her talk with the truth that “Networkers never forget how you made them feel.” Emotional memory can be potent stuff. Participants at Gail’s talk found that absolutely true, in their collective experience. Do you find it so?

Some examples of organizations for local networking are the BNI (Business Networking International); Saskatoon Women’s Network; the “722” group;  “Club Connect”; the NSBA (Northern Saskatoon Business Association); BPW (Business and Professional Women); the Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce; and “Shaken with a Twist” and “Chamber on Tap” networking events, which profile selected businesses, owned by women and men, respectively. Are there others that you want to publicize? Send me a comment on my contact page, and I’ll add it to my list!

Gail also suggested four great strategies, if you enter a large room where you don’t know anyone:

(1)   Talk to people who are alone.

(2)   Volunteer to do something at the event, to break the ice with others whom you don’t know.

(3)   Get to know your organizers (as in through the last example), so that they can introduce you to others.

(4)   Talk to people who are in open conversations and who are not just in “one-on-one” situations.

Gail herself is a dynamic and enthusiastic networker, whose insights at the recent W.E. meeting generated lots of useful discussion.


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