Get out! Ask good questions! Follow up!

In anticipation of the Opus Distinguished Speaker event on September 4 featuring Guy Kawasaki, it seems fitting to tap one of his books for a post.  As you can see by the above picture, I have marked many things in Art of the Start (2004).  I refer to the book in a number of classes and particularly when facilitating seminars on networking.  While Kawasaki has neat thoughts that relate to the concept scattered throughout the book, the “Minichapter” on page 161 concentrates specifically on the issue.

Titled “The Art of Schmoozing,” he points out that networking is the goyim word for this craft.  The three most important recommendations in this section fall on the first page.

Get out.

Kawasaki calls networking a “contact sport,” noting “you can’t do it at home or in the office alone.”  He acknowledges that it takes some effort to attend gatherings. I will add an extension of his thought that is equally important – strategically choose where to network and arrive with a plan and better yet a target list of people to see or meet. Often, people attempt to network in places that are too comfortable, which leads to chatting with other people “like you” rather than people who “need people like you.”

Ask good questions, then shut up.

“Good Schmoozers don’t dominate conversation,” according to Kawasaki.  “No one is more fascinating than a good listener.”  To extend this, you need to listen with genuine interest. You can prove that interest by asking probing question on the subject. Great networkers learn many things in the process of creating valuable relationships.

Follow up.

Kawasaki recommends getting back to people within 24 hours. He ultimately sums up the importance of the value of this concept in a single sentence: “So few people ever follow up that the ones who do are clearly special and worth knowing.” My experience affirms this, and the more “important” the new contact, the more positive impact reaching back seems to have.

Kawasaki offers other thoughts, but for those you will have to pick up his book. I’d let you borrow mine, but it’s kind of beaten up.

Dr. Michael C. Porter, APR is director of the Master of Business Communication and the MS in Health Care Communication in the Opus College of Business.