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

Drew McLellan Interview – Marketing and Branding Expert

Drew McLellan has excelled in the advertising and marketing arena. After working for several other agencies, including Young and Rubicam’s CMF&Z, Drew created McLellan Marketing Group in 1995.

Considered a national branding expert, Drew is a highly sought after speaker and has given countless presentations at national conferences and key note addresses.

Over the years, Drew has lent his expertise to clients like Nabisco, IAMS pet foods, Kraft Foods, Meredith Publishing, John Deere, Iowa Health System, Make-A-Wish, University of Central Florida, SkiDoo and a wide array of others. He maintains a blog at Drew’s Marketing Minute.

I’m pleased to bring you Drew McLellan…

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

Drew McLellan: I think the word networking has been dragged through the mud by all the events and people who think of networking as a superficial “what’s in it for me” sort of activity. It’s not just to collect a stack of business cards from strangers.

Networking, when done right, is about meeting new people and connecting them to the people and resources they need.

Without expectation of the favor being returned.

You do good simply to do good. And trust that somewhere along the way, that good will is going to come back to you.

I believe networking is important because the more we help people get what they want, the more likely we are going to get what we want. Not always from the same person — but in general. I think one of the greatest positions to be in as a businessperson is a connector.

Josh: Can you share a couple of ideas that someone could put into practice that would help them to improve their business networking skills?

Drew McLellan: Flip through your rolodex: Go through your rolodex (or however you keep your contacts) and look for two people who would benefit from meeting each other. Write an e-mail to both, describing why you think they should know each other and then get out of the way and watch what happens.

Ask follow up questions: In most networking situations, the conversations stay very short and very superficial. At your next event, plan on staying with each conversation longer and ask more questions. Dig for how you might be of service to the person you’re talking to and don’t flip to the next person until you’ve discovered how you can.

Josh: How do you encourage referrals from your network?

Drew McLellan: I don’t, at least not in an intentional way. I just try to be as helpful as I can be. I make connections where I can. And I’m always glad to spend a little time with someone on the phone or over coffee, answering questions about branding or marketing. I’m glad to give away a sample of what we sell. That way, hopefully the person will speak from first hand experience about how good/smart we are.

I have learned over the years that if I give without reservation, it will come back to me. I never know how or when, but I do know sooner or later, it all balances out.

And if the scales tip a little unevenly and I give more than I get… so be it. I’m good with that.

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  • Andy Lopata

    Drew’s approach is spot on, I call it ‘taking yourself out of the equation’. The key to successful networking is to listen for other people, not to listen for yourself.

    If you can establish a reputation as a connector, people will be drawn to you and you will find many more opportunities coming your way.

  • Josh Hinds

    Well said Andy. Being a “connector” is such an important part in the “effective networking” equation.

    And interestingly enough it’s not all that difficult a thing to do. Just focus on the other person first — looking for ways you can connect others you know for their benefit — or even connecting people to useful information that would be of genuine benefit to them works too.

    –Josh H.