Redefining networking Featured

9:25am EDT October 31, 2002
The next time you're tempted to sign up for a networking event to help market your business, consider the networking environment you're already a part of.

I'm not referring to the business organizations you've joined, or the luncheon series you attend, but to the people you communicate with during the course of your day -- for business, pleasure and pain.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is collecting multimillion-dollar contracts through his new business, The Giuliani Group, a consultancy group he formed a few months ago with the heads of some of the companies that suffered deep losses on Sept. 11, 2001. A year ago, when he was consoling the leaders of companies such as Aon Corp., which lost 175 employees in the World Trade Center, I doubt he was thinking about the career benefits this relationship could provide.

But like any relationship, created for any reason, it had the potential to become lucrative or detrimental.

After I moved out of my condominium recently, I rented it to a man who owns a small local marketing company. Shortly after he signed the lease, he called me at my office to ask if SBN would consider promoting a conference he was orchestrating.

My first reaction to the request was positive. He had already established a level of credibility with me through personal dealings, so I was quick to pass his request on to my boss. But that soon changed. Shortly after the phone call, he defaulted on his security deposit and first two months' rent.

How could I, in good conscious, recommend that my company stand behind his business if he was unable to keep up his end of a contract? My dealings with him were admittedly limited, but they were all I had to go on when faced with the decision of whether to pass his name on or let it go.

We build relationships almost every hour of every day in every aspect of our lives. You may not think you're networking when you're signing a lease or helping someone through a crisis.

But isn't that exactly what networking is, making an introduction? What face are you putting forward?