I am a new graduate, so I feel like this was the perfect time for me to read this book. Someone mentioned it months ago at school when we had a speaker come in to talk to my class and I wrote down this title.
From Business Cards to Business Relationships (Personal Branding & Profitable Networking Made Easy) is a book written by Allison Graham, who does a lot of professional presentations and helps people with networking (in a client-esqued way). It’s pretty cool, basically she gives the readers 4 pillars.
The First Pillar of Profitable Networking: Perspective
The Second Pillar of Profitable Networking: Personal Brand
The Third Pillar of Profitable Networking: Procedures
The Fourth Pillar of Profitable Networking: Strategic Plan
To summarize, you need to be realistic about what you have to offer, your strengths and weaknesses, then you consider your brand, and then you consider procedures. Ok, none of this stuff is rocket science, but it is all interesting. For example, procedures covers things with dining, even something as simple as what hand to eat with, which isn’t something I really think a lot about. I am left handed, and I always figure “who’s checking?”, and I really don’t think anyone is going to hold it against me for doing it “backwards” because I am left handed and its a reasonable adjustment in my opinion. That said, I also know that in India that it would be rude or inappropriate to eat with your left hand because that’s the hand you use to go to the bathroom with (these are the strange tidbits that I have learned by having a BA in religion and sociology), so maybe people really do care, who knows. Also, I haven’t verified that this is a custom in every single area of India, so if you’re travelling there I’d check out their customs. Allison also talks about the best way to get into touch with people, how to build contacts and so forth. The fourth pillar was pretty useful because it touched on some of the more “fun” ways a person can network like this:
“A great way to fill your calendar is to look to you interests and find a way to align those with your target market…. Do you love skiing? Why not start a weekly ski group that travels to a nearby resort every week or once a month? In my city there is a group of professionals who go skiing together…” – pg 269, Graham, From Business Cards to Business Relationships
Connections, connections, connections. Networking is one of those things that seems straightforward, but I think that the application is harder, for a lack of better words. It just sounds so, so, so time consuming (I am picturing working 40+ hours a week + going to events every day, which isn’t likely realistic if you have a family, but I am so for 1 or 2 evenings a week). I bet it isn’t burdensome if you are networking doing stuff you like. What I like is volunteering and going to events (e.g. the art gallery opening I am going to in a few weeks). Nothing may come of any of those things, but I am still getting out there. I am grateful for this book because I like the fresh perspective, I am going to join some peer to peer networks and I dug out my business cards that have been chilling in my office for no apparent reason for the last month or two (in my defense I cleaned out my cluttered purse, which is where they previously resided).
I’ve mentioned wanting to learn how to network more effectively to a few of my friends. The extent of my networking thus far has largely been via volunteering, and if I am being honest, I did that to get experience and because I loved the organization or club and I wasn’t focused on networking. I realized how great of a networking opportunity it was after I was asked to be a support worker for a family while I was working for children with disabilities. It turns out a lot of my friends don’t network a lot either, and I am now wondering if lots of people do this. Since I am trying to get into public relations (where my post grad certificate lies), I have been hearing about networking so much and it has begun to seem so normal to me and has been something I somewhat neglected because I knew I’d be moving (again) and wanted to focus on opportunities in the city I am moving too.
My point being that networking is intimidating, and From Business Cards to Business Relationships goes a long way to making it less intimidating. To be fair, I have been feeling less intimidating since going through the intense school year I just had because a lot of the things you do to network have begun to seem normal to me. My thing was that I also began to associate it with “boring” talks or events, which I add in quotations because, in all fairness, they are far from boring for the right audience, but held no interest for me, I wanted to go to things where maybe I listen to someone talk for a while. I really wanted go to to Comic Cons, art gallery openings, volunteer at artsy/educational typed places, dance, join a book club, go to galas (never been, but seems cool), golf tournaments, and so forth; the good networking things that seem fun to me. Although, in the back of my mind I was pretty sure that dancing didn’t qualify until Allision Graham validated it as a possibility in the book, along with “proper” business functions (she said exercising, but she also proceeded to bring up skiing, so there, breaking it down to an exercise of choice is acceptable). My day is made.
Also, I should mention that I am on the look out for cool events related to my areas of interest and my field, so jolly good.
If you all haven’t noticed, I feel pretty optimistic right now. This is coming from someone who just graduated a month and a half ago, I am a perfectionist who is spending a lot of time stressing over job opportunities. It is nice to build up a positive base of knowledge and connections; it is a good confidence builder. I think that From Business Cards to Business Relationships is a good start for all young professionals (or old ones who wish to get a new perspective). I definitely want to make golfing a “thing” in my networking repertoire.
Well, carry on ladies and gents, and thanks for reading 🙂