Out of all the experts out there in the field of personal contact networking, not a one of them (at least among those whose works I’ve read) has attempted to break the concept of networking down into as much of a science as Dr. Ivan Misner, founder of the global business networking organization BNI and author of this latest book I’ve come across, Networking Like a Pro.
While on one hand, this comprehensive book on networking contains a lot of basic advice that any serious job hunter or professional has probably figured out by now, either on their own or through reading other works on the subject. But to play devil’s advocate, the book is also a whopping 250 pages long, and it obviously wouldn’t make much sense to delve into some advanced concepts of networking without making sure every reader has a firm grasp on the fundamentals first. And honestly, once you wade through some of the more elementary stuff, you’ll stumble across some real “thought leadership” about networking that you may find pretty exciting.
For example, you’ll come across a set of diagrams illustrating the ways different groups of people often stand together at networking events, revealing which groups might be more approachable than others. Or you’ll read about the 12x12x12 rule that teaches you how to make a great first impression by focusing on how you look from 12 feet away, how you look from 12 inches away, and by being clear on the first 12 words that are going to come out of your mouth. Or you’ll learn about the VCP formula that teaches you how to move a new contact forward from initial Visibility to the Credibility phase to the ultimate desired stage of Profitability. These simple constructs, along with a handy “networking scorecard” at the end of the book, will give you some great new tools, ideas, and models for revving your networking efforts up to the next level. These guys (the three authors) have put some serious thought into this subject matter — and better yet, have had the chance to test their methods among tens of thousands of eager disciples from across the BNI networking universe.
Additionally, you’ll learn some interesting facts, such as that human beings can process approximately 400-450 words per minute while listening — whereas the average person only transmits 100-150 words per minute, when talking. This creates a few interpersonal challenges we’ve all run into, such as the difficulty of giving somebody your full attention, despite your desire to interrupt them or move on to other topics. And on the flip side, it explains why it’s so hard to deliver an elevator pitch that keeps people fully engaged, since other peoples’ brains are going to be constantly tempted to succumb to distractions.
The bottom line? Networking Like a Pro is a great book for anybody who wants to improve their networking prowess and is one I can recommend wholeheartedly, with only one caveat, which is that it discusses networking entirely from the context of entrepreneurial, sales-focused networking — versus the career-focused networking that is likely a more common focus among my blog readership. As a result, many of the examples/scripts in the book don’t quite translate into a job hunting situation and will need a little “tinkering” to work appropriately. Aside from this one issue, however, you’d be hard pressed to spend $13 (the current price on Amazon.com) on any better resource for helping improve your relationship-building skills!