02 Sep Networking: How to Grow or Scale your business
“Networking is by far the easiest, most efficient and least expensive way to success … no matter what your goal.” – Charles Ruffolo, The NetworKing
What Is Networking?
Networking is “making connections among people or groups of a like-kind.” It generates
benefits from contacts with whom you have a direct or indirect relationship. In short, it is a
positive process of mutual support.
When you grow your network through strategic meetings, attending events or by joining new
networks (e.g., organizations, boards, clubs), you are increasing your ability to add value to your
existing network by adding a depth of skills and market reach. As you develop varied
relationships, you gain more exposure and credibility. And don’t forget about reciprocity: You
also increase your capability to help others.
For example, the BASE Conferences activities are designed for people to meet one another,
learn and share knowledge and experiences. The discovery is that people and companies face
similar conditions and situations. In interactions, solutions are often provided. By participating
in BASE, you are GROWING your network.
For companies, there is evidence that when new, diverse and skilled talent is identified and
hired, capital expands beyond the human component to include a more profitable bottom line.
Much of this progress includes being savvy with technology and the ability to quickly adapt to
change in a rapidly changing world. People make this happen. People make up companies.
Leadership in companies identify great people through networking – on or offline.
To scale your network, begin by tapping into your existing network and utilizing the relationships
and trust already developed. Who do they know who you need to know and vice versa? Be
intentional about your interactions and your “asks” for introductions and ideas for expertise. The
best conversations happen when you have clarity about your needs, discover their needs, and
find a solution together. Those great interactions will not be forgotten – and they will be
As an example, the BASE Team realized my knowledge of networking and interest in serving.
Strategically, they asked me to be an ambassador and to contribute via this article. The more we
identify and invite great collaborations, the better business and life get for all of us.
As a company expands its market share through new relationships, it will likely add revenue at a
faster rate than any costs incurred. Scaling does not necessarily have to happen with new
human or other resources. It can be achieved via key and mutually beneficial relationships.
Do I Even Have A Network?
We are all able to network Its a given and no one can take it from you or stop it from growing,
except yourself. You have to understand what networking is.
The power of your everyday connections often goes unrecognized and untapped. These
connections, however, can change your life if you acknowledge their power and utilize them
Networking works for everyone. It is not limited to the corporate executive or the already
influential person. My aim in writing this piece and my books is to show every person how to
network just as easily and effectively as those who seem to have all the right bells and whistles
at their disposal.
Is Networking Hard To Do?
Networking is not rocket science. It’s a common-sense way of life. But you have to learn the
ropes, or the loop of success won’t swing your way.
Networking is a lot more than marketing or selling. It’s literally a way of life. Personally,
networking helps me to deal with some of life’s minor annoyances as well as my most
challenging obstacles and opportunities. It helps me to identify clients and increase my
profitability. It means exposure for me – as it will for you – in unexpected ways.
You can learn how to foster and build a network from the ground up, and then make it a ritual in
your daily life, the same as I’ve done with mine. You must remember networking is not about
what you want or need. It’s what the other person needs and wants. Find out what the other
person (company) in your network is looking for and you will know how to be an asset.
You can network. Don’t be duped into thinking that it’s too tough or that you’re just not outgoing
enough to communicate and learn about others or share your skills and talents. I know for a fact
that everyone, no matter what his or her education or predisposition, can learn to network.
For The Skeptics
No doubt some of you will be skeptical or critical. There are those who think that networking is
nothing more than schmoozing to get what you want, whether it is money or favors. It’s not
cheating, lying, stealing or robbing.
Networking is simply about using the connections you already have and expanding those
parameters by leaps and bounds to accomplish what you want or need. The more you can feed
that process, the more easily you’ll travel through life and benefit others on your way.
Success requires being in the right place at the right time, connecting with the right people,
recognizing an opportunity when you see it, and then grasping it. That takes foresight, planning,
resourcefulness, motivation, initiative, enthusiasm and gumption. After all, the key word in the
word “networking” is “work”. It’s the paddle that moves the canoe. Without it, you’re dead in the
Example: Networking at Work
Before participating in the BASE Conference in Amsterdam, I did not know Lana Jelenjev or
Veronica Guguian well, but Carol Govaert I knew very well. She introduced me to them. Carol
was Scaling her network and I was growing mine.
After meeting with Lana and Veronica, we agreed I would serve as the Master of Ceremony or
Day Moderator for the conference. In addition to assuming my moderating role, I learned they
were in need of speakers, sponsors/partners and participants.
I energized my network and introduced them to various speakers – Fatima Elatik, Joseph
Oubelkas, Helen Mets, Jochum Haakma, Nora Boukadid. I connected them with potential
partners/sponsors such as Omar Munie, Target Holding, WarChild, Make A Wish Nederland, and
Chocolate Company. I personally sent numerous invitations to individuals from my network who
eagerly signed up and participated in the BASE Conference.
I also invited Lana and Veronica to promote and advertise the conference and their businesses
during my The Network Club event at the Amsterdam Marriott. Based on learning more about
their core businesses, I started working with Lana and her Dream See Do educational platform to
create, transform and share my NetworKing Academy Online courses.
Growing and scaling my own networking training program and courses online is something I
always wanted to do, but just could not find the time to devote to do this until Lana helped me
fulfil that dream. The courses will propel your network. You will find them at
Additionally Veronica taught me the term VA. I knew what PA was, personal assistance, but VA…
is Virtual Assistant. With the onset and growth of The NetworKing Academy Online, I needed
someone who could virtually communicate with the participants and keep me posted on
progress. Veronica energized her network and introduced me to Anel Alcala who now works as
So, you see how networking works. From Carol, I met Lana and Veronica who introduced me to
the team at Dream See Do and then onto Anel. And, I cannot forget Boris, Lana’s husband, who
makes a mean cup of coffee and is also a very good cook!
In closing, the current situation or crisis has caused us to network in uncharted waters and has
brought a lot of uncertainty. Entire populations are working and staying at home. Schools,
offices, factories and other businesses have had to limit their activities. Almost everything has
changed or stood eerily still.
To transcend these circumstances, the networking questions that everyone needs to be asking
“How will our future be different?”
“How do I continue to grow and energize my network for the most fulfilling and lucrative results?
We need to base networking on what we based it on before this crisis: our values and norms.
Just because we were forced to learn differently or use more technology while working from a
distance, does not mean the old manner of networking is gone and will not come back.
It never left.
Today’s marketplace has changed and is increasingly competitive. You can be as technically
smart, street smart, or book smart, but if you don’t know how to connect with other people on or
offline, no amount of diplomas, degrees or savvy will pave your way… Networking will.
Written by: Charles Ruffolo
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