The Reluctant Networker Blog by Greg Peters

We all know that networking — or word-of-mouth — is one of the best ways to grow a business. But what if you don’t know where to start? What if you don’t know what to say? What if the other kids laugh at you? We can help.

  • Myth: Networking is SalesAre you trying to meet the sheep or the shepherd?I was attending a networking event this morning — Bruce Webb‘s amazingly awesome Educational Breakfast — when I ran into this particular myth. It was the end of the meeting and everybody was packing up and getting in a last few minutes of conversation. I had been introduced ...
  • Election Day Networking I had an interesting observation the other night while I was doing some research to prepare to head out to vote on Tuesday. I was going through the AnnArbor.com voter guide — reading up on the different candidates for the various offices. I ran into the bio for one gentleman where, in response to every ...
  • Speaking of Speaking I’ve been slowly increasing the number of presentations I give lately. At this point, my selfish reason for doing them is to increase my reputation as someone who knows something about networking. Of course, in the process, I have to establish myself as someone who provides value to those around him (and has value to ...
  • Write, Write and Write Some More We’ve talked already about some of the areas where writing can help in networking. In particular, testimonials and Gratitude Notes can do a lot to deepen an existing relationship. Now let’s think about a different kind of writing. This one is just as complimentary, but mainly because of its venue. In this case it’s the ...
  • Gifts and the Scorecard We’re moving into the gift-giving season for many of us. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not and whether it’s fair or not, this is the time of year that a lot of folks send out their corporate gifts. Here’s the thing, though: If you are sending out the generic corporate gifts to everyone on your ...
  • Thinking About Yourself This post is not about focusing on your needs to the exclusion of and/or cost to others. No matter how you cut it, that is just bad networking. In this case, I am referring to the idea of using yourself as a yardstick to measure your networking behavior. Let me explain. In networking as with most things, your ...
  • Inevitable Delays and Stale Business Cards This morning we launched the newest version of BiblioBouts in the classroom. BiblioBouts is a web-based game which attempts to teach students good research skills. It’s a project I’ve been on for a couple of years now as a part of my old business. Now, I don’t know if you’ve been part of a project launch, ...
  • When?Practice, practice, practiceThe techniques we talk about here only work if you take responsibility and use them — and use them frequently. Most of them are pretty simple, but not always easy to force ourselves to do. So, when is the next time you can practice your networking style? Will it be in two weeks when you ...
  • Pay Attention!Luke: Pay attention to me!As I wrote, a few weeks ago we had to say goodbye to our cat Ray. It was sad for us, but it’s been even harder on his brother Luke. They weren’t completely inseparable, but they were very close and Luke is feeling the absence. This has made him a little ...
  • [Updated] Event Review: Early Edition (formerly Morning Edition) I got some good response from my reviews of potential networking venues, despite the fact that the locations are fairly local to Ann Arbor. So in a similar vein, I am going to do the occasional review of repeated networking events. I will focus on those events ...
  • Friends and FamilyMy family: Who are these people?We focus so much on using our networking skills to make our business lives more successful. We choose our groups and events to put us in a position to connect with our clients or (even better) those who would put us in touch with our clients. We make our calls and ...
  • See You Tomorrow?“I’m at the park. Where are you?“I had a big client meeting this morning. This was a site visit with the funding agencies for a project I am working on through my old business. I was to be there at 10am to help with any technical issues that might/always do crop up when you demo ...
  • But What Have You Done Lately?I bet he’s got a story or twoI know I’ve said over and over that you should always be focusing on the other person. You should ask them questions and be interested in their responses. You should look for ways to support them in both their personal and professional life. At the same time, when it ...
  • The Dangers of the Sales MindWatch out for this common trapSo, you’re at a networking event and find yourself chatting with two people. One of them is a perfect client for you. Oh, they don’t realize it yet, but with a little careful questioning, they’ll discover that they need about a hundred of your widgets. Wouldn’t that be a great ...
  • Future FocusIt had to grow this big.  It didn’t start out this way.Today I was working with my friend and business advisor, Jim Woods of LST Advisors, LLC. I really enjoy my sessions with him. For a couple of hours, I get to set aside the day-to-day requirements of working in my business in order to spend some time ...
  • Be Curious, Be ObservantBill’s choice of “flair” was bound to prompt some questions.For some folks, starting a conversation with a stranger can be almost as painful as hitting their thumb with a hammer — though perhaps with a bit less cursing. How do you break the ice and go from two people just standing next to each other ...
  • Venue Review: Marnee Thai I met a new friend, Ted Belding of Belding Consulting, Inc, for a one-to-one lunch today. We met at one of my favorite downtown restaurants, Marnee Thai. Ted is pretty much a certified genius. I mean, he and I both cut our teeth in the Computer Science Department at University of Michigan. I’m no slouch ...
  • The Networking Event Toolkit A few days ago I wrote about having rituals which would support your networking practice. One of the things we mentioned was setting out the material you might need for a networking event the night before — your networking event toolkit, so to speak. So, what sorts of things should (or could) be included in that ...
  • The Ever-Evolving NetworkerSome habits you should break. Others you want to establish.We’ve covered more than a few techniques, systems, and behaviors over these many months. Some of these you are probably already doing and feel quite comfortable with. There are probably one or two that you aren’t doing, though. So when are you going to give them a try? One of ...
  • It was Only a Joke Humor has its place in networking. After all, no one wants to be around someone who always has a dour look on their face. That being said, though, we have to make sure that our attempts at humor don’t violate what our networking partners would consider acceptable. Some of this is pretty obvious. Obviously, racial, ethnic, ...