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Sep 8, 201612:28 PMThe Gray Area

with Donna Gray

More lessons on powerful networking

(page 1 of 2)

Editor's note: The Gray Area is undergoing a format change. Donna Gray is going to start blogging on common issues facing small business owners, lending her perspective and insights based on a lifetime of experience in business. Think of it as “Dear Abby” for business. If you have a business issue or question you'd like expert guidance on, email Online Editor Jason Busch at, with the subject “The Gray Area,” and we'll have Donna and her extensive network of business experts tackle it for you.

Because my last blog brought some interesting feedback, I decided it would be good to follow up with some additional info on powerful networking.

Some folks told me that they believe social networking is THE tool to use for building their prospecting network. I mentioned this to a friend who is a networking expert. He pointed out that social networks are extremely useful in finding out about and staying updated on your contacts status. But all the “experts” agree that social networking isn’t the same as going to an event and actually meeting people face to face. It may be efficient to sit in front of a computer and search for information on prospects but it doesn’t give the fast track on converting leads to prospects, or get you up front and personal with the people you want in your business stable.

According to Diane Darling, founder and CEO of Boston-based Effective Networking Inc., the professional social networking leader is still LinkedIn, which she labels “hybrid networking.” While she maintains that face to face is still the best form of networking, she agrees that we no longer have to rely on “snail mail” or phone calls to interact and create a group.

Mike Tyrrel, cofounder of Uncommon Knowledge says that fear is what holds people back in face-to-face social situations. While many fear they will say the wrong thing at the wrong time, he says that if you’re relaxed and confident then you will transmit that comfort to the person with whom you’re communicating.

Peter Handal, chairman, CEO, and president of Dale Carnegie & Associates, notes that shy people who attend meetings and conferences will tend to find one person with whom they’ll spend the duration of the event. While this may be comfortable it defeats the purpose of networking. And this is why I recommend that if you attend a function with a company colleague, use the old “divide and conquer” technique so you each of you can make lots of new friends.

Some folks fear they will look rude by moving out of a conversation that is going nowhere. This should be done with finesse. My favorite “excuse” is, “I know we’ve both come here to network, so I guess it would be good if we continue making the rounds to mingle.” This works without offending and you can then move on to meet and greet other potential — and good — prospects.


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