Liz Lynch is author of Smart Networking: Attract a Following In Person and Online and a sought-after speaker who brings a practical and insightful perspective to networking that has connected with a global audience. Her printed and audio products have sold on six continents, she’s been invited to speak at conferences and organizations around the world, and her writings have been translated into multiple languages.
Liz is also founder of the Center for Networking Excellence, a company that develops products, programs and seminars to help entrepreneurs and professionals get clients, build their businesses, and accelerate their careers through networking. Her bottom-line approach grew from her experience in corporate America working at some of the top firms in their industries—Goldman Sachs, Disney, Booz Allen & Hamilton, and Time Warner—to hone her strategic, analytical and financial expertise. Liz holds an engineering degree from the University of California, Berkeley and an MBA from Stanford University.
How do you define "business networking?"
It’s about building relationships with people who are willing to support you because they know, like and trust you, and because you’re willing to support them as well.
How did you brand yourself as a "networking authority?"
Quite by accident, actually! In fact, people were giving the “expert” label even before I felt ready for it. Five years ago, I wanted to start speaking and developing products to generate passive revenue to supplement my consulting income. That’s when I wrote my first tips booklet “102 Secrets to Smarter Networking” and started selling it online and during speaking gigs. I got invited to speak about networking, then to write columns for various publications. I also started my own e-newsletter, then eventually my blog.
Last year when I was encouraged to write the book, I realized that I really did know a lot about networking after spending so much time analyzing it from different angles and trying to explain it in different ways so that people could get that “a-ha” moment and finally take action. My brand in this realm has always been about networking smarter, not harder, and I think that’s a unique message that has connected with a lot of entrepreneurs and busy professionals who don’t want to network 24/7 but still want the results.
When did you realize that networking was important for your business success?
While I always sought to build good relationships with everyone I met in my career by being nice to people and doing my job well, I didn’t really “network” when I was in corporate America. I didn’t take people to lunch, or get involved in industry associations.
It wasn’t until I left corporate to start my consulting business and had to get clients, did I realize the importance of networking in helping to keep my pipeline full. Though I started networking with that singular goal of getting clients, eventually I began to embrace networking more holistically, as a way to get exposed to new people and new ideas on a regular basis. It’s actually become more fun because everyone I meet has something valuable to share and through conversation and interaction I can find out what that is.
How have you benefited personally from networking?
Writing Smart Networking made me realize how much my network has done for me, and as I begin the marketing/promotion stage, they’re coming through for me again and it’s so humbling. I’m very grateful. Aside from the tangible examples of getting consulting business and speaking engagements, my network has really given me the gift of feeling that whatever I want to do, whatever goal I have for myself, whatever crazy project I want to take on next, I can do it because I’m not alone. I’ll always have people around to support me, to be a sounding board, to help me get things done. And that is absolutely priceless.
What is one of the lesser-known secrets to effective networking?
Ooh, that’s a great question! Lead with value whenever you need something. Find a way to make helping you as beneficial for the person giving you the help as it is for you. In Smart Networking I talk about considering both intangible and tangible value, and how sometimes the “feel good” aspect of giving help is enough for some people. For other people and for certain requests, on the other hand, you’re going to have to find a concrete way to make it worthwhile for them to help you.
For other interviews, view my Interviews Archive.
If you like this blog post, then subscribe to RSS feed or via email.