Expert Advice On Business Networking And Tips On Developing Your Networking Skills

Interview with Matthew Cornell of Matt’s Idea Blog

It’s an honor to bring you Matthew Cornell, from Matt’s Idea Blog. He is a consultant, speaker, and coach specializing in the areas of personal productivity and Workflow.

In addition Mathew has authored many articles on topics dealing with productivity, technology, and creativity.

Josh: How do you define Business Networking and why do you feel it is important?

Matthew Cornell: Let me first say that, until the last year or so, I spent my entire professional life as a programmer in government and academic research labs, cocooned in technical problems far away from “real” people.

I happily worked away, clueless about the importance of connecting with others. If I had an opportunity to talk to someone, I was ALL BUSINESS – maybe spending a few seconds of small talk before getting to the “real meat” of the issue, then quickly signing off.

I worked for twenty years this way until I realized, while switching careers to personal productivity consulting, what an impoverished way to operate this was.

My turning point was when I discovered networking was not only a *requirement* for my kind of work (where word of mouth referrals are key), but also deeply satisfying on a human level. At that point I made myself a student of business networking, and started including books like “How to Win Friends & Influence People,” “Love Is the Killer App,” and “Never eat alone” in my new consulting self-training diet.

The change has been remarkable. I’ve trained myself to always be on the lookout for opportunities to connect with others, being especially attuned to ways I might help *them*. (Note that this is the “white magic” kind of networking where you are looking for win-win relationships, not the “evil” variety in which you’re focused on taking as much as possible, and mainly using others primarily to further your own goals.)

Regarding a definition, I’d say it’s about connecting with others in mutually beneficial and hopefully pleasant ways, such that all participants emerge with richer relationships and potential to get what they care about done. In addition, networking adds to your intellectual and narrative mix. As I’ve heard it put elsewhere, “The currency of business is ideas, not money.”

Josh: Can you share one idea that someone could put into practice that would help them to improve their business networking skills?

Matthew Cornell: My suggestion would be a “meta” idea: I’d advise people to treat improving their networking skills as an area of focus, one that will pay off for the rest of their lives. Start with books like the ones I mentioned above, then practice! At work, social organizations, parties, everywhere.

More specifically, I’ve found it very helpful to do my research before talking with someone. These days, there is usually lots of information publicly available about people you’ll meet with, so find out as much as you can about their lives, where they work, and what’s going on. Have they received an award? Bring it up, or send a card.

Your research should provide you with plenty of questions to ask them when you meet. Ask them, then *listen* – people love to talk about themselves, and sincere active listening is a gift anyone can learn to give, regardless of where you are in business.

-Learn more about Matthew Cornell at MatthewCornell.org.

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  • Anonymous

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