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By Joe Tillman | 05/16/2012 | 6:00 AM

Speed dating by PhotochielMy mentor: How many business cards did you get at the networking event last night?

Me: 28… I’m a powerhouse rock star networker!

My mentor: That’s good… let’s go through each card and tell me something you learned about them.

Me: Huh?

Several years ago my metric for networking was simply the number of business cards I got while at an event. I would set a goal to collect a specific number of cards at each event. It wasn’t until my mentor asked me to relate one thing I learned from each person I met did I realize the number of cards collected wasn’t a a very good way to measure success.  It was myopic. So, I went back to school to develop a better method.

When I first started networking, it was a visceral act. You shake a hand, give a 30 second pitch on why you’re cool, collect a card and then meet someone new. Much like speed dating in the movies.

Until my mentor pointed out the flaw, I had no clue why I was not successful. I didn’t try to connect with each individual. It was not the number of people I met at the event, but how I connected and re-connected with them once the event ended.

Did I follow-up by the next morning?

  • Add in a particular note from the discussion I had with them.
  • Send a quick email to say, “Hi – It was great meeting you. Let’s keep in touch. I’d love to hear about some more new wines I should try!”

Did I deliver what I promised during our conversation?

  • Follow-up with next steps. If you mentioned an article or book they should read, send a link to it.

Set up a time to get together at some future point?

  • “Hey There – I’m going to be in town next week and would love to get together. Let me know if you’re available for lunch or coffee!”

Send “love notes” every month or two, something along the lines of… “Hey There – I saw this article and thought it might help with your WMS implementation project. Just remember you’re not alone! Look forward to talking soon.”

Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi is a great book to help you move from networking to relationshipping.

Networking is so 1980s -- like Depeche Mode, MTV, cassette tapes, big hair, metallic jumpsuits and stirrup pants. Relationshipping is twenty-first century. And that metric… I call it “Relationshipping” and calculate it as the percentage of people I met at an event that I have continuous contact with over the year.

I’d love your feedback – and would love your help in sharing questions and comments about being a young professional. If you have a question, comment or feedback, please send me an email to [email protected].  Every fourth blog will be a question and answer session from those that I receive from you, my audience. If I use your question, I will send you a free copy of a book mentioned in the previous four posts. 


[Image: Speed dating by photochiel via Flickr CC]



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About Joe Tillman

Joe Tillman

An enthusiastic and dedicated professional, Joe Tillman offers supply chain education and research through his company TSquared Logistics. Joe has a keen interest in all things supply chain and uses his high-energy approach to life to author articles for industry publications, blog on young professionals for DC Velocity, and speak to supply chain industry groups. He also co-leads the Warehousing Education and Research Council's influential annual benchmarking study, "DC Measures." Prior to founding TSquared Logistics, Joe worked with Supply Chain Visions as a senior researcher and consultant, Wal-Mart Logistics as a distribution professional, and Union Pacific Railroad as a conductor. Joe is certified in transportation and logistics (CTL) by AST&L and SCOR-Professional certified by the Supply Chain Council.


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