Networking 101: She Who Dies with the Most Business Cards Wins

Last week, I attended a networking meeting to learn how to network. I’m sure there is a punch line in there somewhere. Grand master Hank Blank (@hankblank) delivered it as part of a workshop series organized by the Professional Communicators Exchange (@p_c_e). (It’s even funnier that Hank was teaching people who are paid to talk and write for a living how to network, but this is serious stuff.)

Hank Blank notes style stands out.

In truth, I’m a good networker. I listen more than talk, help more than ask for help and invest time in an organization before writing it off as a waste. I know that the game of “she who dies with the most business cards” does not pay off. Nonetheless, Hank reminded me of a few pointers.

First, “face time, not Facebook, leads to relationships,” Hank said. “People hide behind their computers and social media.” Social networking is an easy tool in our networked world. But don’t make it the only tool. Get out and meet people. If you have a great relationship with a resource online, meet for coffee and make that relationship IRL (in real life).

Second, “this is the new normal,” Hank said. “The old economy is not coming back so networking is more important.” The good news is that you can network anywhere, such as the grocery store, the elevator, the gym or traditional networking groups. If you really get to know people for the sheer benefit of forming connections, the dividends are endless.

And finally, “have an attitude of engagement. 75 percent of jobs come from relationships,” Hank said. Speak up to get what you want but also reach out to help someone else. We’re in this together, remember.

I’d love to learn what makes you a successful networker. Would you share your tips, too?