Four successful businesswomen—Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Dotsie Bregel, Tracy Lynn Repchuk and Viveca A. Stone—share their networking experiences and insights. Be sure to take plenty of notes along the way. There won’t be a quiz, but no doubt you will be tested.
WHAT ARE YOUR REASONS FOR NETWORKING? HOW HAVE THEY CHANGED OVER THE YEARS?
Dotsie Bregel, founder of BoomerWomenSpeak.com and the National Association of Baby Boomer Women: “I am a networker by nature and really don’t know how to go about life without it. I’m forever connecting people whom I believe can be of some type of encouragement/help to one another.”
Tracy Repchuk, President of the Canadian Federation of Poets and author of The Poetry of Business: “Originally my reasons for networking were to meet people I could sell to. Over the years I realized this was one sided. Now I network to find out what other people are doing, are they happy, do they need help, maybe I can provide them with what they need. I listen to their needs, care about them, and hope that I am someone they would like to get to know better, and let me assist in any way possible.”
Viveca A. Stone, founder of GetReadyForLove.com: “Networking is the fastest, easiest, and most satisfying way to be successful and get ‘the job’ done. In school collaboration is generally considered ‘cheating.’ As the youngest child I grew up feeling the need to ‘prove myself.’ These two experiences stood between me and my networking success for many years. Originally I found myself in a job for which I was completely unqualified. It was technical, aggressive, and fast paced. To succeed I had to network and build a team. It took six grueling months for me to combine the right mix of buyers with the right mix of sellers. I plunked myself in the middle and treated them well. From there the business exploded. Now when I find myself returning to my comfort zone of going it alone—which also corresponds to overworking and an empty bank account—I recall that experience and refocus on what matters most—networking and building successful teams. Success is sweeter when shared and obstacles are so much easier to overcome when shared with a team.”
Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t and founder of the Authors’ Coalition: “Networking equates with success. I once thought that if someone else gave me a hand that somehow diminished my own accomplishments. Now the process of giving others a boost and allowing (yes, even sometimes asking!) others to give me a boost is the way I do business. By the way, business equates with life. It is part of one's life, after all.”
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MOST COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT NETWORKING?
Carolyn Howard-Johnson: “See above.”
Dotsie Bregel: “People will say no. I’ve yet to experience this.”
Tracy Repchuk: “Misconceptions include: waste of time, boring, not the type of people for my product/services, things such as this.”
Viveca A. Stone: “Networking kind of sounds phony to me. It makes me think of all those ‘networking’ events I attended in my twenties for which I was ill prepared. Was just listening into an interview yesterday about ‘Testosterone Free Marketing’ and the difference between men and women. Maybe those events felt phony to me because they seemed like distasteful social events—I didn’t go into them with the right frame of mind or objectives, i.e. I want to meet so and so and discuss such and such.”
HOW HAS YOUR CAREER BENEFITED FROM NETWORKING?
Viveca A. Stone: “I’ve made great friends and colleagues to work and play with. We all have different talents—some of us gather and build great networks—some of us inspire success ‘wind beneath the wings’—some of us are great at starting projects—some at ending them. My career would be nowhere without my friends, colleagues, and networks.”
Carolyn Howard-Johnson: “There isn't a way that it hasn't. We may be captains of our own barks, but we always need a compass and a sail.”
Dotsie Bregel: “I’ve grown two wonderful Web sites and met tons of incredible women who are willing to go the extra mile for one another. My approach is always ‘what can I do for you’ because I like to help others.”
Tracy Repchuk: “Without people/networking, you don't have anyone to communicate to, work with, find out about, and help. Getting together with others is a healthy way to enjoy what you do, let others know about it, and meet some fantastic and interesting people along the way.”