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up your chances - Schmooze or lose - It's who you
know that counts, by Hugh Montgomery - 8th March 2006
The Sydney Morning Herald)
first grisly lesson for anyone entering the job market
is to throw the books away. It's who you know, not
what you know, that counts. As a young PR consultant,
nothing filled me with more horror than the pressure
to "work a room". Arriving at industry get-togethers
with a business card hastily scrawled in felt-tip
pen and avocado stains down my front, I looked more
out of place than Paris Hilton at a Vatican tea party.
still comes with a powerful stigma, even though it's
vital for developing business portfolios or finding
job opportunities. A friend of mine calls it "careerist
brownnosing by the professionally undeserving".
the fact is, it works. Greg
Tingle was a blue-collar boy "destined
to drive trucks" until he gatecrashed the media
world five years ago. Now he runs his own PR firm
and lists himself as "a TV presenter, journalist,
radio broadcaster, internet author, all-round media
entrepreneur and man of business brilliance".
cast his net wide for career openings, unable to rely
on the traditional avenues of family and friends.
His big break came in 2000 when he rang 2UE's John
Laws to offer the inside scoop on life in the athletes'
village at the Sydney Olympics, where he was a volunteer.
It was the beginning of a lucrative relationship with
Laws, 2UE and Southern Cross Broadcasting.
approach to networking is no-holds-barred. One time,
he cornered celebrity PR man Max Markson for a photo
at the launch of his book, Show Me the Money! They've
since collaborated on projects for stars such as Shane
Warne and he now considers Markson "like family".
RoAne, author of How to Work a Room, insists we shouldn't
be ashamed of networking. It's simply about "sharing
resources", which has been occurring ever since
"Eve offered Adam an apple in the garden of Eden".
she says, there is a definite need to resurrect the
art of conversation.
[is the culprit] in most countries," she says.
"People are doing things online and not face-to-face
... they email the person at the next desk instead
of getting up and going to talk to them."
what are the secrets for triumph at those dreaded
networking events? Internet research is vital, otherwise
you might accidentally ask the chief executive to
refill your wine glass. "With Google, we can
go into every event a little bit more prepared,"
starters are also important, so if your knowledge
of international affairs doesn't run beyond Brad and
Angelina, it's time to scour the newspaper. This means
reading the footy pages, even if you have as much
interest in sport as jumping around a padded cell.
denies that networking is manipulative and fake, even
though some of the advice she reads in self-help books
"turned my stomach, [it] was so smarmy".
"I don't have children, but I have [learned]
that when people have children, that's what they talk
about," she says. "I couldn't care less
about the [food] mothers are feeding their babies
but if I want to have a relationship or do business,
I've got to be a little more flexible."
suggests a seven-to-nine-second "opening gambit"
that puts a humorous spin on your job title to make
you stand out from the crowd.
meanwhile, believes in flashy business cards. Rather
than opting for Patrick Bateman-style monochrome sleekness,
try something more flamboyant. Tingle's are black
and gold and "stand out a million miles away".
also carries around recent clippings of his work.
"[People] like to see what's occupying someone
at the moment," he says. "Just to make sure
they're being active and hitting some runs."
beware: even the smoothest networker can be relegated
to a "one-night stand" if follow-up with
a contact is poor. "While everyone else is emailing,
text messaging or maybe doing nothing," RoAne
says, "you [should] send a note saying, 'Thank-you
for [your] time', and they will be happy to recommend
you further. We save thank-you notes, we don't save
it's important to store your hard-earned contacts.
Carole Stone, a prolific party hostess and author
of Networking - The Art of Making Friends, keeps a
personal database with more than 25,000 "friends".
The database contains information on when they met,
who introduced them, what events she's invited them
to before as well as details on their partners - both
personal and professional.
is famous for her regular "salons" at her
London flat, attended by some of Britain's leading
movers and shakers. Her annual Christmas bash is no
drinks'n'nibbles affair with the rellies, but a gargantuan
military operation with a guest list of 1000 including
cabinet ministers and movie stars. "As the replies
come in, I update my database with new telephone numbers
and addresses," she says. "That's a big
job that sometimes keeps me up all night."
is the ultimate proof of how networking can, as RoAne
says, become a "lifestyle not a work style".
where does that leave me? I'm still a grumpy hermit
who enjoys showing disdain for 99.9 per cent of human
kind, but I must admit the concept of networking has
become ever-so-slightly more palatable.
a social event the day after speaking with RoAne,
I decide to follow some of her advice. I talk footy,
despite not having touched a playing field this side
of the millennium. I discuss my career without being
stunted by a terminal bout of self-deprecation. I
even log the phone numbers of people I meet on something
more durable than a napkin.
I walk away with a fistful of contacts and a small
glow of self-satisfaction, I begin to wonder if being
"a schmoozer, not a loser" is really as
hideous as it sounds.
networking a necessary evil? Share your tips at radar.smh.com.au
TO GET AHEAD
Treat networking as a lifestyle, not a work style.
Before you attend an event, use the internet to find
out about people who might be there.
Read that day's newspaper to pick up some conversation
Prepare a seven-to-nine-second light-hearted introduction
explaining what you do.
"Good mouth" others and pass on praise you
Follow up contacts in a timely and "appropriately
Send handwritten thank-you notes - we all want to
Stay in touch via phone, fax and email even when you
need nothing from people. You'll seem altruistic even
though you're not.
Susan RoAne, www.susanroane.com