September Luncheon Synopsis: Networking to Win

Presented by Ricky Steele

Ricky Steele is the ultimate rainmaker. A business leader and not-for-profit champion, he has a long history of developing new business, expanding the brand, marketing, public relations, and community engagement for clients across many industries. In addition to hosting his popular internet radio show, Booth 61 with Ricky Steele, he’s a published author with the release of his first book, The Heart of Networking, in September 2004, and The Heart of Networking Second Edition in January 2011. He frequently conducts seminars and speaks on the subject of his book, “successful networking through servant leadership and living the Golden Rule.”

ProWIN was honored to have Ricky discuss his secrets to successful networking, which started with: why network? According to Ricky, it’s an opportunity to create long-lasting relationships and value. “In the internet economy, your network equals your networth,” he says.

Ricky suggests that the characteristics of a great networker include: being available and present in the moment, having integrity, being charismatic and genuine, being a great listener, and having passion. In short, great networkers understand that their first mission is not to sell, it’s to build relationships. As Ricky says, that is a tall order. “Failure happens, but it’s not the end of the world. Quitting is. Quitting is not acceptable.”

Ricky offered luncheon attendees his 7 practical tips for effective networking:

  1. Get organized. Have a contact management system that helps you know and track your targets. Record personal information like their favorite sports teams, family names and ages, previous jobs, and more. Leverage social media to get information quickly and use it to build relationships.
  2. Communicate on a meaningful level, and do it often. It you can’t personalize every communication coming out of your office, Ricky says, don’t bother.
  3. “See your peeps,” as Ricky’s daughter puts it. Go to meetings and events, and be one of the first people there. Scope out the room and name badges: who do you want to see, who can you help? Volunteer to help folks coordinating the event and make the most of your time.
  4. Never burn bridges. What goes around comes around. Ricky suggests, “you can’t get ahead when you’re trying to get even,” and you never know who you will meet again.
  5. Ready, study and learn like a big leaguer. On game day, major league baseball players prepare for five hours to play a game that only takes two. Doing your homework is a differentiator, and sharing knowledge will help you standout.
  6. Never discount anyone. Live the golden rule and remember that a gatekeeper can make you or break you.
  7. Make a multi-pronged attempt. Ricky says it’s critical to build multiple contacts in a target company. This helps your exposure if you bet on the wrong horse.

With humor and heart, Ricky’s session ended with bonus tips from his own experiences: Get involved and volunteer. Nonprofit organizations are a great way to give back, and in the process, you’re likely to gain new relationships. Last but not least, everyone should get a mentor and be a mentor – yet another way to leverage your network, and, as we like to say at ProWIN, build business by building relationships.

Photos from the luncheon follow. Be sure to join us for our next luncheon in November. Non-members are welcome and it’s a wonderful way to learn about all the benefits of a ProWIN membership.


Keri Toomey is a ProWIN member and Vice President at Bliss Integrated Communication. She can be reached at keri.toomey@gmail.com

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