This Christmas I read a terrific book on networking called “Now Network”. I had taken it on holiday, along with a pile of others. None of which I would ever have read if I hadn’t sprained my knee. And had to retire from the piste to the chalet for four days. But I’m almost glad I did. (Well, maybe not, but every cloud has a silver lining.)
Our next conference, INTO Antwerp 2021, is about the importance of partnerships and networks. Herita, our Belgian INTO hosts, were inspired by the book, “The Network Always Wins” by Peter Hinssen. I got myself a copy and have been reading it for a while. After all, I’m in the network business. But to be honest, whilst I found it clever, interesting and well-written, it all felt rather academic.
At about the same time, I saw on social media that an old school friend had written a book on networking. Different kind of networks admittedly. One about how networks are revolutionising society. The other about how to survive and thrive at business networking. But at a third of the price, what was there to lose? I got a copy of that too. And it’s been sitting in my study at home. Waiting for me to throw myself down a mountain and have the time to read a book in one sitting!
“Now Network” is in contrast a deeply practical book. The author, Adrian Priddle, brings years of experience first as an accountant then in learning and development programmes. “Now Network” actually feels like a workshop, with Adrian on hand as your personal coach. Written in simple language, with clear examples, I would particularly recommend it to non-native English speakers. Although there is lots in it for everyone. If you’ve ever felt a slight shudder at the sight of “networking” on an agenda or programme. Ever been tempted to arrive just in time for a speech and left immediately afterwards? Or if you’ve ever looked at a pile of business cards and wondered: Who, where, what? This is the book for you!
As I said before, I’m in the networking business in my role here at INTO. And whilst introverted, I’m no wallflower and can cope pretty well with networking situations. But I still learned a lot. From the omnipresence of social media to the need for proper preparation. “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. I also really liked Adrian’s GLAD approach (Greet, Learn, Attract, Develop).
The first, often most difficult step is your Greeting. Adrian shared lots of tips from the simple (“Do you mind if I join you?”) to the more complex (perfecting different types of introductions). Under Learn, he stresses the importance of open questioning and active listening. With “What’s keeping you busy this week?” as a go-to opener.
I renamed Attract to Action, which the author said he was fine with! (Everyone is different and has a different style which “Now Network” endeavours to accommodate.) In any case step three is about the lasting impression you make at the end of your conversation. So that’s thanking the person, summarising your conversation and action points, and remembering to follow-up. According to Adrian, “Would it be helpful if …” is a fantastic networking phrase. Last of all, is Develop which is about cultivating meaningful relationships.
Here are four immediate, concrete actions I took away from “Now Network”:
I also had lots of ideas around other areas of my work, including upcoming development reviews, speeches in the pipeline and INTO Antwerp 2021.
According to the Adrian “most business books are rarely read to the end and almost never from front to back” … Well, I bucked the trend. At the end of my day reading “Now Network”, I felt like I’d been on a mini-retreat. I was motivated, had some great tips I couldn’t wait to try out and most importantly, the beginnings of a plan. (And I’d done the laundry, rustled up a meringue roulade and family dinner from Christmas leftovers – all on one leg!) Happy New Year everyone and I look forward to connecting in 2020!