Oct 132009

How To Get A Business Network & How To Work It


The book’s subject matter certainly appeared aggressive promising “Networking results 24/7” and how to “attract a following in person and online.”
A couple of warning flags go up right away. The book’s presentation seemed gimmicky right off the bat with its proclamations in bold letters or the promise to “Access FREE reader resources” on the author’s website. Having come across the same thing in several other, perhaps coincidentally weak, books the presence of quotations at the top of each chapter from famous characters also added to the misgiving. The most discouraging however, was the back cover proclaiming the author to not only be a writer, but also a developer of networking products, career accelerator, consultant, keynote speaker and founder of the “Center For Networking Excellence.” Author Liz Lynch will justify the omni-directionally and exponentially growing universe soon enough and incorporate these activities, in what she deems, as a necessity in her concise book, but as a general comment could the whole ‘life-style’ and ‘branding’ imagery be a turn-off? Who isn’t tired of actors who record albums, CEOs who run for office, crooners who get parts in movies, rappers who design clothing and have fashion shows and talk show hosts with magazines? Indeed, Gwyneth Paltrow was just on TV reviewing gourmet food in Spain. It is de rigueur but by now also so corny and cheesy, yet as mentioned Liz Lynch goes on to insist it is all part of the plan she advocates. Indeed, the author advertises for herself and her website often and the book is full of self-references, but that could be taken in two ways. She justifies much of it in Chapter 9, Head For The Limelight.

Smart Networking quickly earns its stripes by doing a couple of things correctly. Firstly, the book is systematic. Liz Lynch consistently outlines the steps needed in sequence. Secondly, she provides specific examples of what she means. She provides these in quotation marks. Here is an example of a sentence one can use as a template: “I work with many different types of clients, but most of my work lately has been with professional service firms.” These two features establish that Liz Lynch is knowledgeable in her subject matter and is serious about imparting the knowledge to her readers in a way that would help.

Her system splits the book into sections about:

1- Connecting with one’s self (how to develop the right mindset)
2- Connecting One-to-one (having the skills to take advantage of interactions and bringing value)
3- Connecting One-to-many (by leveraging the tools and means) and finally
4- to do what is right and putting it all into action.

In the course of the book, one learns how to be smarter in networking, how to use the concept of leverage to generate revenue and how skill plus will yield success. She also seeks to comfort and reassure the readers by recalling how she was nervous and ruffled when she began networking, something that surely should relieve many. There is some repetition here, but there are several solid ideas as well. The author expounds on her suggestions to draw people in using one’s expertise, ideas (for example, as relates to the many laws and regulations in place), going to where like-minded people are (including co-workers), raising one’s profile (leveraging blogs, e-newsletters, Facebook, Linkedin and others as well as giving speeches or volunteering, working at sign-in or as a guide depending on one’s level of shyness) and also to introduce people to resources and others and to assist where possible. Much to her credit, she similarly advocates returning favours, giving and helping others whenever it is possible to do so. Not much of it is revolutionary of course, indeed much of it is elementary, but the specifics only add to Lynch’s insistence that networking is a process and should be progressive. The book does mention that MySpace is bigger than Facebook, which is no longer true, but later in the book the author does admit that things are dynamic and change all the time in the Internet sphere.
One side issue is the persistent misuse of grammar. Perhaps it wouldn’t be an issue if the phrase ‘network smart’ weren’t such a core mantra for the author. Has her copy editor not heard of adverbs? Or is accuracy and language subservient to catchiness? It might be a personal qualm, but grammatical mistakes always detract from identifying the writer as an expert.

She devotes a special chapter (and more) to the Internet and strongly encourages one to leverage it as much as possible. Aside from signing up for the aforementioned websites and interacting, Lunch suggests one’s blog be cross-pollinated with one’s website. The blog is to include regular updates, surveys, and questions for readers, ideas from other posts and blogs, photos/videos, guest authors, interviews and links. Blogging is not only a pro-actively positive tool, but is also indispensable given how the competition is doing it. She supports contributing to ezinearticle.com and signing up for Google Alerts as a means of gaining ideas to write about. She also details tips for the e-zine/e-newsletter she suggests successful networkers need to set up.

The Internet’s transformation into a marketing tool or the inevitability of the need to network “24/7” aside then Smart Networking succeeds because it is systematic, specific, provides an actual worksheet and is up-to-date.

So, I am off to get my ‘personal’ cards…

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