Excerpted from “Network: All the Time, Everywhere With Everyone”

Note from Bob:  My friend Jack Killion literally wrote the book on Networking!  Jack and his wife Judy have become good friends.  Today’s post will give you a just a small taste of what you can learn from Jack.  You will want to do what I have done – You will want to get Jack’s book so that you can enjoy the whole Networking Meal that Jack has cooked up for you!

With Whom to Network?

I think the basic first step to being a successful, results-producing networker is to talk with everyone you meet.

Go through every day talking with as many people as possible without disrupting your life. Adopt the attitude of “let’s talk.”

People are for the most part fascinating creatures if you take even just a little time to discover them.

I get a lot of enjoyment simply by talking with everyone, everywhere, at any time. This doesn’t mean changing my lifestyle in any way or making any special effort to reach out to strangers. But it is amazing how much you can learn talking to someone standing or sitting next to you on a subway, waiting in the checkout line in the food store, standing next to you at one of your son’s or daughter’s games or activities, or chatting in the theater during intermission or at the baseball or football game or at a wedding or bat mitzvah or even at a funeral.

Networking at the Food Store

I was stuffing my wife’s free Garden State Woman magazine in a rack we had in a local supermarket. That’s how I spent my Saturdays, filling racks with complimentary copies in twenty-eight food stores throughout northern New Jersey. Ugh! A woman asked if she could have a copy. What caught my attention immediately was her amazing accent, which I just had to ask about.

It turned out she was raised in South Africa, which naturally led me to ask what she was doing food shopping in Morristown, New Jersey. She told me that she was heading the entrepreneurial studies program at Fairleigh Dickinson University, which was just down the road. I told her I was an entrepreneur with experiences in many business sectors and had previously taught as an adjunct professor in the MBA programs at Rutgers and Montclair State universities.

I asked if we could meet for coffee one morning to discuss if there might be an opportunity for me to get involved as an adjunct at Fairleigh Dickinson.

Over ten years later, I am still involved in multiple ways with the University. It all resulted from taking the initiative to strike up a conversation with an interesting person I met randomly at the local market. “Hi, you have an amazing accent. Where are you from and why are you here?” The total conversation probably lasted no more than three minutes, but it has led to a ten-year-plus friendship.

Nothing says that you have to stay in touch with people you talk to randomly, but simply by reaching out to people, you will certainly come across a few with whom you do want to nurture a longer-term friendship and possibly a business relationship. This has happened too many times for me to even mention, although I will give a few examples as we move through the book together.

The point is, start talking with as many people as possible and see where that leads you. Practice makes perfect. You can develop a lot of networking-related confidence and comfort simply by talking to all the people you meet just getting through your daily routine. Building up your confidence and skill level with these low-hanging-fruit connections will set you up when you need or have opportunity to meet and develop relationships with the big hitters.

By accepting it is a good thing to talk with virtually everyone you meet, many of the new relationships you start to develop will cut through various parts of your life. Random (I call it serendipitous) networking is good for this.

Planned networking in our “clusters” and targeted networking are also efforts that almost all of us should focus on to uncover the life- and career-changing opportunities we all seek.

Where to Network?

Network everywhere, all the time, with everybody. It’s as simple as that.

Anytime you are in the company of other people, start networking. Remember this is a “game” where practice does make perfect. So get comfortable talking/ networking with people everywhere including these opportunities:

  • Waiting in the doctor’s office: Hi, how long have you been using this doctor?
  • Standing in your local food store checkout line: Hi, I have never tried that brand yogurt. Is it your favorite?
  • Sitting next to you on a bus, train, or plane: That looks like an interesting book you are reading. What is it about?
  • Sitting next to another couple in a restaurant: Hi, that looks great. Would you mind telling me what you ordered?
  • Waiting in line to buy tickets to the movies, a play, or a game: I have heard great things about this play. Have you?
  • At one of your kid’s events at school: Our son has enjoyed practicing for this. Have you heard the same thing from your son or daughter?
  • Staffing the reception desk at an organization you are visiting: You seem to enjoy your job. What makes this company so good to work with?
  • Sitting in your company’s waiting room when you get back from lunch: Is someone helping you? Who are you here to see? What do you do? How can I help?

The message is clear. Start talking. You can never tell where the conversation will lead. Maybe nowhere, but it doesn’t take any real effort to show a genuine interest in others.

Jack Killion developed his networking skills: earning degrees from Yale and MIT, providing strategic consulting to Fortune 500 organizations while with McKinsey & Co. and during forty entrepreneurial years.  He launched seven successful companies plus bought and developed  an international manufacturing company.  He served on corporate and non-profit boards and with the U.S. Army.  He taught as an adjunct business school professor at three universities and co-founded a firm to teach others networking and relational development skills.  Network with Jack Killion at: Jack@NetworkAllTheTime.com , (908) 507-9879, or via the website at NetworkAllTheTime.com Click “HERE” to purchase Jack’s book “Network: All the Time, Everywhere with Everybody.”

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