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.

  • Be Curious, Be Observant Bill’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 Networker Some 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, ...
  • Personal Networking: Bruce Webb I had coffee with a new friend today. His name is Bruce Webb and he is a Real Estate Consultant at Coldwell Banker Preferred Realtors. He’s what you’d call a mega-networker. He runs not one, but two different monthly networking events in the Plymouth/Livonia area of Michigan. He also maintains a huge list of small businesses which ...
  • Being a Good Steward I was down at Keith Hafner’s Karate tonight. We were having our monthly meeting of the student assistant teachers. Grandmaster Hafner often touches on a variety of life lessons in these meetings. Tonight we were talking about money and how it can be a powerful force for either good or ill. One of the points ...
  • Networking Rituals Networking rituals don’t have to be this complex. According to the online Mirriam-Webster dictionary, one of the definitions of the word “ritual” is “an act or series of acts regularly repeated in a set precise manner”. Could employing some networking rituals make us more effective at developing good relationships? Maybe. People employ rituals in all aspects of their ...
  • Addressing the Envelope I mentioned not too long ago that I had visited with my new friend, Lois Weinblatt, Lead Concierge at the Zingerman’s Professional Presents department. Lois is an amazingly accomplished networker — able to make anyone she meets feel special and appreciated. She showed that when, not long after my visit with her, she sent me an invitation ...
  • The Other Nine Lepers Lisa, Kaylie and I went to church at St Francis of Assisi this morning. The homily was about the passage in Luke regarding Jesus healing the ten lepers. According to the story, after he had healed them, Jesus sent the ten to the priests so that they could see what had happened. Only one of ...
  • Nothing to Show You aren’t getting any referrals. Oh, you are doing a lot of networking. For some reason, though, all the work you are putting into strengthening your ties with your connections doesn’t seem to be paying off. What’s the point of all of this networking stuff anyway? Sometimes you think it would be better to take out ...
  • Have a Plan for Every Networking Encounter One of the basic rules of networking at an event is to have a goal when you walk in. Having one helps focus your efforts. It tell you what you will accomplish so that showing up isn’t wasting your time. It also tells you when you are done networking and can go home (or head ...
  • The Garden Past Its Harvest I look out the window at our vegetable garden. From here I can see a single tomato starting to ripen. It’s October and this is the only real tomato that we’ve seen this year (those cherry tomatoes don’t really count). I remember past years when that garden would produce a counter full of vegetables, especially tomatoes. ...
  • How Fast do You Go from Zero to Sixty? Networking at a snail’s pace is a good way to limit your success. Waiting to call or write or meet for coffee mainly only accomplishes one thing. It helps them forget you. In fact there are a number of areas in your networking practice which benefit from prompt action. Let’s take a look at a ...
  • Venue Review: Graham’s Restaurant I met with my new friend Audrey Wong Chung today. She and I spoke at Morning Edition, The Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti Regional Chamber’s breakfast networking event last month. She is the founder and CEO of Beliza Design, a fashion company that specializes in luxury goods for men and women (yes, I stole that from the website). ...
  • So, Where Do I Start? Many of us who have been networking for a while already have a fairly large tickler file. We never have a hard time filling up our networking time with telephone calls, email messages, coffees, lunches, and even the occasional breakfast. What about those who are just starting out, though? For them, the idea of having ...
  • Who Do You Serve? We’ve talked many times before about developing a specific target market to help focus our networking. With a target market we can more easily determine which events to attend and which groups to join. The more tightly defined that market, the better our network can refer us. That being said, we have to be careful ...
  • Finding Mentors and Coaches I had a personal victory this morning. I stepped on the scale and discovered for the first time in about a decade my weight was below two hundred pounds. This has been on my goal list for at least the last five years and each year I seemed to be getting just a little further ...
  • Be Friendly Sometimes it just a matter of giving them a big smile. Not long ago, Lisa and I were out running errands. This wasn’t long after I had visited my friend Lois Weinblatt over at Zingerman’s Professional Presents, so I still had that marvelous experience in the back of my head. We had stopped at the grocery store ...
  • The Pitfalls of Social Skill Bob and Carl always had a good time at the Chamber lunches, but never seemed to get any referrals. Janet certainly wasn’t a “reluctant networker”. She loved to network. She attended every event she had time for and could talk with just about anyone she met. She always had a lot of fun and not a few laughs ...