Spontaneous networking

tychay photo on Flickr, creative commons attribution

A while back I attended one of Carolyne Taylor’s yoUnlimited conferences and went to a session that two local Victoria women, Pauline Penner and Anna Harvey, presented on networking. Anna and I had met before so our seeing each other  at the conference was a reconnection, but it was the first time that I met Pauline. During the session both women impressed me not only with their knowledge and attitude around positive networking but because they were engaging presenters as well. Later I asked Pauline to share with me some of her thoughts on networking for a future blog post because it’s a topic and practice I love to think about as well.

Pauline’s business is JumpStart Business Solutions, offering business advice to emerging entrepreneurs in Victoria. I was pleased to learn recently (after seeing her at another yoUnlimited event!) that she is also a business mentor and coach for Bridges for Women’s Self Employment Program.

So with thanks to Pauline for her thoughts and her patience on waiting for me to publish this post (!), here’s what she had to say in response to my questions about networking.

B: What do you think about this whole “quantity over quality” thing around networking? I mean is it more important to know a lot of people or to know fewer people but deepen your connection with them and get to know them better?

P: My opinion is definitely quality over quantity. People will do business with people they know and trust. So it is valuable to spend the time deepening those relationships with a few contacts. In turn, those few will tell others about you and the overall feeling will be one of a genuine connection and sincerity. Networking is about making genuine connections and not about bouncing around the room collecting as many business cards as you can.

B: How do you carve out the time to network with others and still get the work of your business done?

P: In my business I schedule time for networking. There are several benefits in this approach:

1. Very quickly it is apparent exactly how much time you spend on this activity;
2. You can attribute a value to the time you spend;
3. You can then track results from your networking;

I teach my clients that networking is part of the “HVA” principle of productivity. “HVA” is High Value Activity. If you are going to devote time and effort it is important that you make it work.

B: What is your general approach to networking?

1. Make a Networking Plan:

a) What do you want to achieve?
b) What defines a “good prospect”?
c) How many prospects do you want per month?
d) Where do my best prospects go to network?

Make the Commitment and select the group(s) that best match your “target market”
Learn Effective Networking Skills
Create a Memorable Moment by making a lasting impression
Set goals
Commit to making a genuine relationship

This is part of a presentation given by myself and Anna Harvey of Boost Communications. We are available for speaking engagements on this topic and others. If you require any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you Pauline for sharing your thoughts on networking with us! Pauline encourages this blog’s readers to email her at simplysolutions@shaw.ca to ask for her “Tips to Effective Networking” and “Top 10 Time Management Tips”.