Don't be deterred by this book's title. (Initially, I was.) Yes, it offers a wealth of advice about how to create, expand, and use a network of mutually beneficial relationships but it offers more, much more. Ivan Misner and Don Morgan have carefully selected and then brilliantly presented material by or about a wide range of people who are "masters of networking" but a more important point to be made about them is that they are as eager to help others as they are to seek the assistance of others. Many years ago, at a Christmas party, I met a woman and we introduced ourselves. At one point, I asked her what she did. She replied, "All companies have problems with retaining valued employees. I solve them." I was immediately intrigued. "What kind of problems?" She named three. "How do you solve them?" Her response was brief and precise. I then replied, "I'm an independent management consultant and don't have any of those problems but I know some people who do. May I have your card?" She gave me three. All this took less than 60 seconds. I complimented her on immediately getting my attention. She explained that she was creating what she called "a one-minute miracle," noting that chance encounters offer great opportunities for her to network IF (huge "if") she can get someone to ask for her business card in less than 60 seconds. I recalled that conversation as I read through this book.
Note: In How to Make a Million Dollar First Impression, Lynda Goldman suggests that first impressions are based on the following criteria:
53 percent is visual (e.g. physical appearance and body language)
38 percent is tone of voice
7 percent is what we actually say
Some may question the percentages but the implications for networkers are undeniable. I have examined other research data that suggest that, during a telephone conversation, tone of voice has 4-5 times more impact during an initial contact than does what is actually said. Listen carefully during your next telephone conversation with a business associate, family member, or friend. Goldman suggests that tone of voice has at least 2-3 times as much impact than what is actually said. Once again, the implications for networkers are undeniable.
Misner and Morgan organize their material within 23 chapters and assign 2-7 brief articles to each of the chapters. For example:
Chapter 1, Why We Network:
"What Is a Network?" (John Naisbitt)
"The Law of Giving" (Deepak Chopra)
"Relationships Count More Than Ever" (Carol Thompson)
"The Global Neighborhood" (Robert French)
Chapter 18, What A Little Networking Can Do:
"Harvey's Top-Ten List" (Harvey Mackay)
"Networking Three Ways" (Paul and Sarah Edwards, Rick Benzel)
Chapter 22, How Good a Networker Are You?:
"Discovering Your Networking Style" (Lillian D. Bjorseth)
" It's Not [begin italics] Your [end italics] Confidence That Counts (Martin Lawson)
"The Self-Assessment" (Donna Fisher, Sandy Vilas)
Keep in mind that networking is only one of several ways by which to establish and then sustain mutually-beneficial relationships. The strategies and tactics employed should be determined by the ultimate objective: business development, recruiting, job hunting, research, fundraising for a charitable organization, investigative journalism, etc. Always think in terms of first-person plural pronouns because they offer a reminder that the most valuable and enduring relationships - in one's career as well as in one's personal life -- really are mutually beneficial. However, as various contributors to this volume correctly emphasize, there are some non-negotiable rules or at least guidelines to follow:
1. Don't be shy about asking for assistance
2. Always follow-up on every referral.
3. Never say or do anything to embarrass the person who provides one.
4. Respond immediately to requests by others for your assistance.
Note: If you can't provide that assistance, introduce the person to someone who can. Effective networking is a three-dimensional contact sport.
5. Constantly strengthen your networking skills but (key point) always be yourself.
Networking is a process that should never end, best viewed as a sequential journey rather than as a series of isolated transactions. The needs and interests of those who comprise a given network change over time. Also, as that network expands in scope and increases in number of those involved, sub-sets will develop as have online news groups and, more recently, special interest blogs.
At the outset of this brief commentary, I suggested that those who are interested in this book should not be deterred by its title, as I initially was. I also want to suggest that some of the best material in it is provided by persons who are totally unfamiliar to most readers. It is interesting to learn how Colin Powell networks and what Fran Tarkenton has done since retiring from his career in the National Football League. But for me, at least, the contributions by others (e.g. Cindy Mount, Jeremy Allen, Susan RoAne, Bob Burg, Art Radtke, George Fraser, and Dan Georgevich) were of greater practical value.
Credit Ivan Misner and Don Morgan will doing a brilliant job of selecting and organizing the material. They are also to be commended for the brief but insightful head notes that introduce each chapter. Well-done!
Those who share my high regard for this volume are urged to check out Misner's Truth or Delusion?: Busting Networking's Biggest Myths as well as the aforementioned How to Make a Million Dollar First Impression. Also three books compiled by the Million Dollar Round Table Center for Productivity (Million Dollar Prospecting Techniques, Million Dollar Selling Techniques, and Million Dollar Closing Techniques), and three books by Tom Butler-Bowdon: 50 Success Classics, 50 Self-Help Classics, and the most recent published 50 Psychology Classics.