Steps to Networking – Step 31: Other places and events

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 5th, 2010

STEP 31: Other places and events

When you go to that café that caters to musicians, or to the ballet, the aquarium, or a PTA meeting, networking is seldom your primary motivation. However, networking opportunities can always arise at nonnetworking events. Since the best contacts can be made in the unlikeliest, most unplanned-for situations, you must be alert to all networking opportunities and be prepared to react. You also must take pains to act appropriately.


Food stylist George DoLese was biding time in a long line at a New York City pastry shop the man behind him started talking to him. Initially, he complained about the long wait, but both he and LoLese agreed that he pastries were worth it. The conversation then moved on to pastries and food in general. As DoLese reached the counter, the man handed DoLese his business card and asked him to call. He was the executive chef at a restaurant owned by Donald Trump and had an opening that he thought would be ideal for DoLese. DoLese called, got the job and an amazing experience working for Trump.

Even the most casual meeting can be an interview or an opportunity. In the time they waited together, DoLese was able to convey his expertise and this landed him a terrific job. He was prepared and when the opportunity presented itself, even in the most unexpected place, he was able to capitalize on it.

We’ve all heard millions of similar stories; how someone profited from being at the right spot at the right time. However, these bonanzas aren’t simply the product of dumb luck. True, they may have been fortunate to be where they were, but they also had the ability to provide a good impression and to make the best of the opportunity.

However, reacting to perceived opportunities in nonnetworking situations can be tricky. Although it might be tempting to jump on opportunities that present themselves during school board meetings, it may not be worth the risk of offending others in attendance. Inappropriate networking can be disruptive and impolite. It can sully your reputation and alienate people who could help you somewhere down the line.

So be alert to networking opportunities at nonnetworking situations, but pursue possible contacts only if it feels 100 percent appropriate. Don’t make a move if you have the slightest doubt. Usually, it’s simply a matter of timing and since networking is not the primary reason for your presence, the best approach is to wait for a break or until the main business has concluded to pursue your quarry. Then make contact, exchange business cards or contact information and arrange to call or meet at a later date. If making contact might be at all awkward, uncomfortable or disruptive, save it for a more appropriate time.

Often the best networking tactic is to concentrate on the situation at hand rather than attempting to make network contacts. By focusing on the business on hand, you can demonstrate your abilities and dedication to the cause. As a result, others will usually be impressed and want to get to know you better. So concentrate on your purpose in being present and contribute. Build your reputation and the contacts will follow. Do good by doing good.

(Excerpted from NETWORKING MAGIC: Making Connections That Will Change Your Life By Rick Frishman and Jill Lublin With Mark Steisel)

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