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Category: Business

Love, Loss and Networking: Why Your Networking Should be More Personal, by Beth Bridges

A column from Beth Bridges.

When I was the membership director for a large chamber of commerce, I attended over 2,500 networking events in 10 years.


Why would anyone go to an average of more than one networking event per business day? Why would anyone frequently plan a day that started out with a breakfast meeting, a luncheon, an afternoon coffee meeting and then follow it up with an after hours networking event?

Because it was basically the only tool I had. “When all you’ve got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

When I took that membership marketing job, there was no marketing budget. I didn’t have a sales team. It was just me and a willingness to go out, anywhere, any time to meet almost anyone.

My “why” was so that I could build the organization membership and ultimately be successful in my job. I was all business, all the time.

But it was also fun and friendly because I like just about everyone and I enjoy meeting new people. I connected deeply with a lot of the people I networked and did business with because I’ve always felt that business and personal networking had a lot of overlap.

Loss Showed Me What I Had Gained

I didn’t realize just how much I have intertwined my personal and business networking until I suffered a terrible personal loss.

I didn’t want to lean on my family (mom, dad and brother) because they had lost someone they loved too. Fortunately, my closest friends were there. But so were my business friends.

Whatever I needed, someone was able to help. Set up a complete potluck to feed 100 people at your memorial? Done. Get tables, chairs and linens donated and set up? Of course. Pick up dog food? Sure! And I’ll have another business friend drive it over to your house. Squirrels ate your sprinkler head? I’ve got the exact replacement here in my truck.

I heard from two or three different people day, just checking in on me.

These were people I’ve known for years, but they weren’t “personal” friends. I didn’t have them over for dinner. Their kids didn’t play with mine. We didn’t go to school together.

We did go to the same luncheons. We belonged to the same organizations. We were connected on Facebook and LinkedIn. It was always so friendly when we saw each other and I was always genuinely thrilled for their successes and saddened by their losses.

Somewhere along that businessperson-to-businessperson journey, it became person-to-person. I gained connections … and built friendships.

So I will call these people my friends. Just friends. Not contact. Not connections. Not business friends. Some people might say that you can’t make friends just through business networking.

Not only are they wrong, but they are missing out on a vital component for a happy, long and successful life.

How to Make Networking More Personal

Yes, as business people, our main “WHY” for networking can be for business. We want to get referrals, develop resources, and ultimately increase our sales to build our businesses. Or, if we’re not the business owner, we network to further our careers. We’re in a job search or we’re looking to earn a promotion or we want to do our job well, especially if we’re in sales or marketing.

Beyond business and career reasons, we should also be networking for personal reasons. A great deal of my personal growth has been inspired by my networking. It’s also how many of us to prefer to get our personal service needs fulfilled. We trust our friends to refer us to a reliable plumber, a great hairstylist and the newest best place to eat.

But if you wonder HOW to make friends when everyone else is all about business, here’s how to do it without feeling like the new kid on the playground, looking for new friends.

Don’t focus on getting their business right away.

Do you want to try to sell this person something right now or do you want to have a long-term connection and possible friend? Because the two are possibly mutually exclusive.

No one likes to get a cold-call sales pitch the first time they meet someone. They might judge you to be someone that you don’t want to be involved with.

Be patient and keep your sales prospecting activities a little more separated from your networking.

Be authentic.

We often feel constrained to only discuss business when we are business events. Loosen up! Talk about your life, your family and the things you love. Be your authentic self. Before you think this means you can go off about how hard your life is and how bad your business sucks, no. You need to be your best authentic self.

That means being your friendly, happy and open self. Someone who has good things in their life. Someone who is interested in sharing positive things.

When you’ve met a dozen people at an event, who stands out? The person with the most correct elevator pitch? Or the person who excitedly told you about their new puppy?

You want to be real and genuine and talk about things that matter to you. But not too much, of course. You have to balance this with the next strategy.

Think about their needs first.

If you’re not enthusiastic about networking events because you don’t like to go in and push your own product or agenda, you’re already on the right track. It’s also extremely helpful for introverted networkers.

Go into a meeting or event with the goal of finding out how you can help them first. Or maybe exclusively. It works in business networking because filling other people’s needs is how you give value.

Plus, it works in building personal relationships. Everyone is going through something. You might not be able to cure their cancer or dissolve their grief, but you can be a sympathetic listener. You have no idea how appreciated and valuable that is to someone who is going through something terrible and difficult.

… Or maybe you will.

BETH BRIDGES is the author of “Networking on Purpose: A Five-Part Success Plan to Build a Powerful and Profitable Business Network.” She attended over 2,500 networking events in 10 years, secured a new job in 18 hours with one email, and launched a marketing consulting business through networking. She speaks at chambers of commerce, associations, and conferences across North America. Beth, 2018 Western Regional 400m and 800m W45 Champion, is training to compete in the World Masters Athletics Championships in 2020. Learn more at The Networking Motivator.

(the podcast on iTunes)


How to deploy an Intrepid (military) mindset in business: Interview with Chris Schafer + Brent Carter

Joined on the show by Chris Schafer and Brent Carter to discuss their recent book, Intrepid Professionals: How Principles from the Military Mindset Build Extraordinary Leaders, Teams, and Businesses. Learn more about their work here.

Today’s discussion guide:

1. The Intrepid Mindset. A hybrid model from an elite Special Ops veteran and a leader/organizational behaviorist.

2. How to be more agile, innovative, and financially competitive.

3. “Tip of the spear.”

4. Servant leadership.

5. Maximizing leadership potential to create high-performance teams with a cohesive culture.

Find the book here:

About today’s guests:

Brent is a consultant, university professor, and researcher in the fields of leadership behavioral & the brain sciences, crisis management, and organizational adaptation. His expertise is in leadership behavior, neuroscience and psychology, cognitive behavioral therapy, organizational stress dynamics, and complex adaptive systems. Brent has a Ph.D. in Management.

Chris is a 25+ year U.S. Army retired veteran and spent much of his military career on 3rd Special Forces Operational Detachments Alpha (ODA) teams. His career includes many deployments leading ODA combat teams advising and training people from all over the world. Chris earned a dual Master’s Degree in Business and Project management and is the Chief Executive of Military Affairs for SOLIDRed Concepts.


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The 3C’s of Brand(ing) with Bruce Newman, The Intrepid Interview

Author and Professor Bruce Newman joins me to discuss his latest book, Brand. Learn more about Bruce, co-author Todd Newman, and the book by CLICKING HERE.


Bruce Newman1. Understanding the 3C’s: Customer, Channel, Competition; A strategic brand focus model.

2. How to truly develop a modern marketing strategy around sometimes disparate and complex ideas.

3. Understanding user-generated branding.

4. The corporate brand vs. a “portfolio” of brands within an organization.

5. How to frame an idea, and begin to move it forward…and a brand fails if it doesn’t lead to behavior change.

6. What does fake news have to do with brand?

7. Consistency, reinforcement, and feedback loops, and why those matter.

8. A discussion around branding strategy, and how to position the brand to all constituencies, and leverage that position in their marketplace.

9. The brand as lynchpin within an organization.

Find Brand here!

About the authors:

Bruce I. Newman (Ph.D.) is Professor of Marketing and Wicklander Fellow in Business Ethics in the Department of Marketing, Kellstadt Graduate School of Business at DePaul University. Dr. Newman is considered the leading scholar in the world on the subject of Political Marketing. He has held visiting scholar positions at several universities, including Stanford University, University of California-Berkeley, University of Otaga in New Zealand and Meiji University in Tokyo, Japan. His publications have appeared in top academic journals, in addition to chapters in several handbooks on the subjects of political marketing, political communication and persuasion and social marketing. Bruce has published 17 books, some of which have been translated into Chinese, Korean, Hungarian and Italian, including The Marketing of the President (Sage, 1994) and the Handbook of Political Marketing (Sage, 1999). His most recent book is The Marketing Revolution in Politics: What Recent U.S. Presidential Campaigns Can Teach Us About Effective Marketing (Rotman-UTP, 2016). He is the founding Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Political Marketing (Taylor & Francis, UK) now in its seventeenth year. Dr. Newman is a recipient of the Ehrenring (Ring of Honor) from the Austrian Advertising Research Association, and advised senior aides in the Clinton White House in 1995-1996 on communication strategy. Dr. Newman is a frequent contributor to the media, appearing on both national and international talk shows. His Op-Ed articles have appeared in a broad range of publications, including the Chicago Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor and on Dr. Newman has been invited to give Keynote Addresses in over 25 countries.

Todd P. Newman (Ph.D.) is a Postdoctoral Associate at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, USA. He holds a PhD in Communication from American University. Dr. Newman’s research focuses on the intersection of science, the media, and society. Specifically, he looks at how the media shape our views of science and environmental issues, as well as the public outreach and engagement efforts of scientists. He previously served as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Connecticut where he worked on a National Science Foundation supported research grant to evaluate the training of scientists in public outreach and communication. His publications have appeared in a number of academic journals and edited volumes, and he works with scientists internationally on strategic communication and public engagement.


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Tom Peters: The Intrepid Interview

Best-selling business author and speaker Tom Peters joins us on the show today, to discuss his latest book, The Excellence Dividend.

Click here for the show transcript!

Discussion guide for my conversation with Tom Peters:

Hasn’t everything about doing good, quality work already been said by all authors and business gurus? Why was this book necessary?

Tom PetersSo, what is the Excellence Dividend, exactly?

One of the goals of the book is to discuss and understand the impact of technology on business, but more importantly, to remember what humans can (and always will) do better than a machine, correct?

You talk about EXCELLENCE. Do we ever truly arrive there? Or is the lifelong pursuit of excellence the true mission, the real point to the effort?

“Business IS the community.”

One of the most profound weaknesses of most people in business is their inability to LISTEN. With social media, technology, media, and all the noise, listening is even harder these days. We discuss at length how strength and influence comes with true listening.

In the book, there is an important discussion about joy, and that most people in their work are joyless. We discuss why joy matters, who is responsible for bringing joy to the workplace, and how being joyful inspires creativity and innovation.

Speaking of innovation, Tom and I have an important dialog about not only what innovation truly is, but how you do it. And while most of us overcomplicate, Tom explains how to do it successfully. And it’s just a matter of rolling up your sleeves and trying things.

To wrap the conversation, Tom shares advice on how to adopt the “Excellence Now” philosophy, and how to begin to embed the principles of his book into both our lives and our organizations. Not by sharing a memo, but by building this new culture one person at a time.

You can find Tom Peters’ book right here!

Who is Tom Peters?

Tom Peters is coauthor of In Search of Excellence—the book that changed the way the world does business, and often tagged as the best business book ever. Seventeen books and thirty-five years later, he’s still at the forefront of the “management guru industry” he single-handedly invented. What’s new? A lot. As CNN said, “While most business gurus milk the same mantra for all its worth, the one-man brand called Tom Peters is still reinventing himself.” His most recent effort is The Excellence Dividend: Meeting the Tech Tide with Work that Wows and Jobs that Last (Vintage, 2018). Tom’s bedrock belief: “Execution is strategy—it’s all about the people and the doing, not the talking and the theory.” In November 2017, Tom received the Thinkers50 Lifetime Achievement Award.


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