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Networking Tips for the 21st CenturyNetworking Tips for the 21st Century

By Julia HubbelBy Julia Hubbel

Has business networking changed for the 21 st Century? Julia Hubbel believes it has. This

networking expert believes that changes in global business are driving changes at the ground level right to how we shake hands and acknowledge each other in our everyday work and social environments. "With so many more women and so much more diversity in the world's workplaces of today, we are all learning to be more attentive to differences," Hubbel explains. "It's not just gender and cultural, it's acknowledging our value to each other, and that's taking it another step. Networking used to be all about getting something from someone, using people to one's advantage. This century is all about the human network. It's about connections, and about connecting people for their benefit as well. What we do to help others succeed comes back around."

Hubbel has her own story to relate about helping others. In 1997, she went through a rough period personally and professional, during which she started a professional women's group in the American Pacific Northwest. Within three years, the group grew to sixty members, all senior level professional women doing business with each other and starting businesses among the members. Hubbel wrote about the women, promoted them in newspapers and local media, introduced them to new contacts and helped them succeed. The women also drew together within the network to help Hubbel get through her rough patch. "The Hubbel Group was a diverse group of women of color," Hubbel recalls. "Polynesian, Hispanic, Asian, Caucasian, American Indian, African American, it was quite a mix. Because of that they taught me how people of color networked differently from white males, and because of my own Fortune 50 background, I realized that big businesses needed to know about it."

Hubbel expanded her speaking business to include courses on how women and people of color networked differently from white males, and adapted them for Fortune 500 companies. "Networking in general has changed for everybody," says Hubbel. "It's not just that diversity and the pace of business affect us all. It's that we are all much more sophisticated, and hard core selling tactics don't work any more. With so many of us developing relationships as an essential part of our business model, we have to earn the right to do business. You don't do that by forcing the connection. You do it by inviting people to want to know you and do business with you."
  1. Diversity has changed networking for the 21st Century. Women and people of color network relationally, not transactionally, and that is a different language and style of connecting.
  2. The space in front of you is your living room. How do you treat people when they are in your house? Treat people in your space with honor, regard, graciousness and courtesy, and your business and contact base will bloom and grow.
  3. Treat everyone you know with the same regard. You have no idea whom you are talking to. Just because s/he doesn’t appear to have a title or power, doesn’t mean s/he doesn’t. Be gracious to everyone.
  4. Networking is about creating a space where others feel valued and powerful. It’s not about selling or getting. It’s about making others feel terrific in your presence.
  5. Don’t worry about trying to be witty or entertaining; that’s not your job. Your job is to ask good questions: who, what, when where, how, help me understand, tell me more, etc. Let others shine in your presence.
  6. Be charismatic. It’s easier than you think. The trick is to ask a great question, then listen with great interest and make this person the absolute center of your attention. Let them feel like a rock star while you’re with them. That’s your gift to them. Charisma is how others feel about themselves when they walk away from you.
  7. Tithe your social capital. Your social capital is everyone you know and all the resources of knowledge they represent. Be quick to leave someone with a tip, a referral, a reference, an idea, something to help them be successful. It comes back around, especially when you do it without a quid pro quo.
  8. Leave people feeling larger than how you met them. Try to make sure everyone you meet is left with something more than when they came to you: an idea, a suggestion, a feeling about themselves, something that makes them bigger. This is your gift.
  9. Compliment people. Every chance you get, leave people feeling complimented. When you ask people about their businesses and how they got started, or their accomplishments, always be complimentary or use the words “I admire you for..” This makes others feel powerful- and it makes you feel powerful to give power away.
  10. Build your network by connecting people within it to their advantage. Always be on the lookout for ways to connect members of your network to benefit from meeting one another by meeting. Make the introductions. This will pay off in a hundred different ways in the future for you and for them.

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