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

Amanda Mooney interview – social media coordinator and consultant

Amanda Mooney is a senior undergraduate marketing communications student at Emerson College in Boston. In addition to her studies, she works in PR and social media for Schneider Associates, i5invest and Josef Mantl Communications. Upon graduating from Emerson in May, Amanda will join Edelman Interactive Solutions in New York.

In her spare time, Amanda enjoys reading business, technology and style news, going to the theater, discovering new artists on iTunes and blogging for American Shelf Life, Launch PR, and i5invest.

Josh: Amanda, how do you define Business Networking and why do you feel it is important?

Amanda Mooney: I think “networking” has become a really negative word associated with the card sharks that pass out and collect business cards and LinkedIn contacts in droves; the ones that pull out these contacts from time to time only when they need something, as if each contact is a currency for a transaction.

In my experience, the best networking happens when professionals seek each other out because they’re genuinely interested in the goals and passions of their peers and work to build a relationship that mirrors the relationship they have with friends and close colleagues.

As one of my role models in business and relationship building, Keith Ferrazzi, says: “Real networking is about finding ways to make other people more successful. It is about working hard to give more than you get.”

Building these kinds of relationships is important to me because it makes me even more excited about the work I do when I surround myself with great, equally as passionate professionals and understand that we each have skills and connections that can help each other achieve our professional goals.

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

Amanda Mooney: Think first about how you can help others achieve their goals and passions and be less focused on the size of your network and more focused on its quality.

Also, never wait until you need something (a job, a new client, etc) to build your relationship with someone. I think that networking is a bit like dating. When you are out to fill some void you have, you’ll have a tough time; but if you build relationships when you are out to simply add to the great life and work you’ve already built, you’re suddenly very attractive and interesting to others.

Josh: Based on your experiences, which places and activities (online or offline) have you found best for meeting new people and expanding your professional network?

Amanda Mooney: Go to the professional and non-professional activities you are genuinely passionate about rather than the ones you think you should go to. If you enjoy theater, go to a show and make a point at intermission to introduce yourself to someone around you who looks like he or she’d be interesting to talk to. You’d be surprised to see the kind of relationships that are sparked at great, non-“networking” events like this.

Josh: Can you share a personal “networking” success story with us?

Amanda Mooney: I went with a friend to a beautiful New Years Eve party in New York. Over the course of the night, I spoke with the host, whom, although I was unaware at the time, was starting his own Web and angel investing company, i5invest. We spoke very briefly about work but enjoyed a really great night of celebrating with friends.

A few months later, I was planning to visit the city and rang him up to see if he’d like to meet and catch up. During our meeting, I learned more about his goals for i5invest and told him about my studies of communications and the Web. I offered up my ideas and perspective on his work. This conversation led to one of my first and current consulting jobs as a young professional in PR that I enjoy very much.

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