Interview: Diane Darling and The Networking Survival Guide
Diane Darling is a successful entrepreneur and the author of The Networking Survival Guide, and Networking for Career Success: 24 Lessons for Getting to Know the Right People. She works professionally as a business coach to individuals and corporations and travels the country giving lectures on networking as well. I sat down with her to discuss her thoughts on working a room like a pro.
“Let’s start with choosing the right event,” she said. “I have something called the ‘whether’ report. Instead of a weather report being cold, hot, rainy, or such, the whether report is whether you’re going to an event based on what you know about the event. For example, when I get invited to an event, my first thought is, “Who invited me?” That means yes or no, whether it’s someone I like and trust.
“Let’s take First Fridays at the MFA as an example. What’s appealing about that? 1. It’s at the MFA. 2. Who invited you. 3. What’s it about? Well, it’s kind of a dating scene. So if you’re married with two kids, it wouldn’t be the best use of your time. 4. Where are you going to park? 5. How much is it going to cost? 6. What’s the dress code? Do you really want to change and primp? I don’t like networking at events that much. My preference is to have a one-on-one conversation. But events allow you to have a random interaction with someone you had no intention to meet that turns out to be amazing.”
After speaking with Diane for the better part of an hour, I left impressed with the power of her personality and savvy techniques. I heartily recommend attending a lecture or calling her to enquire about coaching. The takeaway from our conversation? Diane wrapped it up herself. “Introverts can be excellent networkers,” she said. “What I actually find is that you network less, but you network more effectively. By the time you go to the event, wander around, get home, process a few business cards, let’s say it’s three hours. If you’re a lawyer, that’s like $1,000 of billable time. That’s a lot of money. Let’s reduce that and get more out of that.”
Diane herself is networking to meet a business partner to put together a ratings system for business networking events. You can find her at www.DianeDarling.com, www.EffectiveNetworking.com, and as @DianeDarling on Twitter.