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This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the November 6, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Making the Most Of Networking
Everyone knows networking is essential to success in,
well, you name it. A job hunt, building a business, making friends
in a new town, all require networking. Yet, says
principal in Personal Peak Performance Unlimited, "when it comes
to networking, people have false ideas."
Menechella lays out a plan for mastering this important process when
she speaks on "Keys to Effective Networking" on Tuesday,
12, at 11:30 a.m. at a meeting of NJ CAMA at the Doral Forrestal.
Call 609-799-4900. Cost: $45.
A Brooklyn native and Rutgers graduate (Class of 1986), Menechella
worked in human resources for Viacom in Manhattan for 10 years,
from her home in Edison "through two pregnancies." She then
joined her husband, Michael Menechella, in his contract maintenance
business before devoting all of her time to Personal Peak Performance
(www.dellamenechella.com). She consults to companies and gives
on developing a "winner’s mentality."
Vivacious and engaging, Menechella uses every bit of her training
— formal and not so — in her presentations. Now suffering
the aftermaths of painful shoulder surgery, she says, "I know
I’ll use this in future programs. They’re about change, about what
you do with what life hands you."
What life hands just about every human is the task of making
with other humans, in short, networking. "Most people hate
says Menechella, but the animosity is due to the fact that they do
not understand how to do it. Here’s her guide:
with 400 strangers, all of whom seem to know one another, surely is
the stuff of nightmares. How to break in? How to walk up and start
Consider networking a sport and practice your technique on cashiers
and on the folks in line with you. Menechella makes a game of it.
She picks the grumpiest cashier, the one growling at little old
and makes a friend of her. It’s easy, she says. The key is asking
how she is doing. A sympathetic "looks like a tough day, when
do you get off?" will elicit a smile every time.
It also gives the wanna-be networker confidence, and practice at
small talk, something that does not come naturally to many people.
It is a process. Going into a chamber event and expecting, what….to
come out with six new accounts, five job offers? That is unrealistic.
The first meeting with anyone is just a start, just the beginning
of a relationship. If you meet two or three people, and enjoy speaking
with them, you are doing a fine job of networking.
and decide who you want to meet. Menechella recalls an event at which
the head of a 19,000-person company was going to be present. She had
heard of him and thought her services could be a good match for his
company. Her goal was to say hello to him. That done, she considered
her attendance at the networking event a success.
Deciding to use a networking event to meet three potential employers,
one potential business partner, or six co-workers you have passed
casually in the hall turns an amorphous challenge into a manageable
CFO or runway model, it is easy to determine everyone’s favorite
It is, of course, their own glorious self. Ask, and conversation will
flow. Be genuinely interested, and you may have a friend for life.
it, networking is a failure. Don’t even undertake the exercise if
your goal is only personal gain. If the networking event centers
job hunting, be prepared to share leads and helpful Internet job
can take a long, long time. It is the process of building a
Menechella relates account after account of relationships nurtured
over five or more years. People met casually years ago became friends.
She helped them out when she could, and then, often unpredictably,
they called to offer her assignments.
entirely possible that the grumpy cashier’s sister’s mother-in-law
could be looking for a person just like you to head up her company’s
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