I have had the good fortune to be associated with the Carlson Business School at the University of Minnesota recently. There was a mentoring event I participated in October when a young Chinese woman was starting a Professional Women’s MBA networking site in China. I have been going to China since 1984-and had met few women MBA’s so this was an intriguing cultural nuance.
Being a little out of my element, I asked this young woman what she believed would attract women MBA’s to this site. She told me it was general networking-job transition, benchmarking and business socialization issues. It reminded me of the advice which came from George Dow, http://georgedow.com/, many moons ago. George recommends the 20 minute networking guide: http://georgedow.com/the-20-minute-networking-meeting-revisited/
George told me that networking had three purposes:
1. Information. Information is exchanged and there is a basis of education. Information is plain and should be factual. I will want to learn from this person’s network how things work, who does what and what is relevant.
2. Advice. Advice is their analysis of their information and opinions they have formed using this information. Advice is helpful because I am leveraging someone else’s take on the situation and their experience.
3. Contacts. Good people know other good people. Others have limited contacts. Chances are that good networkers have good information and advice then they must have other good contacts.
I have used these networking principles when launching a business in a new country. I interview people with local experience to accelerate my learning.
My quest usually starts with help from the Minnesota Trade Office when networking globally: http://mn.gov/deed/business/exporting/about/contact-us.jsp
Set objectives prior to any formal or informal networking meeting. Why are using this person as a networker? Will they add information, advice or contacts to help you? Tell them exactly how they can help you along these three tenets. Thank them and keep them posted on your success. And most importantly, pass forward this networking good will to the next networker seeking information, advice and contacts from you.
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