Here are some secrets to savvy networking:

  1. Follow-up is a basic tenet of life.
    Behaviors and actions support words; the lack of either subverts them. We must tap into our networks, being timely and appropriately persistent in our follow-up, or we will fail to establish and increase our base of contacts. That is networking in a nutshell!
    People who have resources are resourceful. People who are willing to open their Rolodex or contact management program, pick up a phone, call on their contacts, and ask for help and solutions, and who offer leads, information, and ideas, are perceived as powerful and smart. The closest thing to knowing something is to know where and how to find it.
  2. Acknowledge "gifts" given to you as well as leads, ideas, advice, and time.
    Powerful people have connections that are plentiful, diverse, and expansive -- and are able to get things done because of those connections. President Clinton's superb and savvy networking skills cannot be denied. He was elected because of his network! Here are the special networking skills of the masters:
  • When they meet people for the first time, they look them in the eye and make them feel comfortable.
  • They ask a question and listen intently and let you know they are talking to you.
  • They stay in contact and are very loyal to their friends. If something crosses their desks that might be of interest, they will send it on.
  • They use laughter and are equally at ease with both men and women.
  • They embrace people, not just the "right" people.
  • They make the connection, even if they just share a glance.
  • They exude confidence yet appeal to the average person.

    How do we become a person with whom people want to talk, to work, to collaborate, or to spend personal or professional time and energy? We must become savvy people who are aware of the unwritten rules for this process called networking. One must understand the politics of markers and owing chits.
  1. Networking is an enrichment program, not an entitlement program.
    Too many people feel that under the guise of networking they are to be given leads, referrals, and information they have not earned. We earn these leads by establishing communication and rapport.
  2. We must reciprocate.
  3. Treat people with respect, courtesy, integrity, truth, and honor. People will do business with people they know, like, and trust. People enjoy giving leads to others who have a track record and with whom they have a connection. We establish these connections by meeting and mingling and communicating.
  4. Make it is easy to work with you. Patricia Fripp has shared with us that doing so helps you "get ahead of the crowd."
  5. Just say no to no-win networking. Our networks are too precious to include people who aren't appropriate, courteous, or competent.
  6. Stay in touch with people when we need nothing from them.
  7. Have fun and be good humored, but never at the expense of others.
  8. Pay attention and incorporate the rules -- written and unwritten.

Savvy networkers share a skill with successful leaders: They are aware of their impact on others and behave accordingly. And they are aware of the "favor bank": its deposits, withdrawals, and accrued interest.

Savvy networkers see networking as an investment, which may pay off for a "designated receiver." Someone who had been of immense help to me in the early stages of my business asked me if I could help her daughter, who had graduated from law school. It was my great pleasure to return my friend's assistance and support by helping her daughter. And it relieved her of having to appear as a nagging parent.

By the same token, we get to call in favors to help our friends, colleagues, relatives, and cronies. Networking hasalways been the way of the world. We've just given it a new term. Itused to be called helping!

Susan RoAne, a nationally recognized speaker on topics including networking and conversation strategies, is the best-selling author of How to Work a Room: The Secrets of Savvy Networking and What Do I Say Next? Susan RoAne and the RoAne Group may be contacted at 415-239-2224 or via

Copyright 2000 Susan RoAne