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Monday, January 15, 2007

Networking for real

Bill Caswell and Upkar Bikhu of Caswell Corporate Coaching Company (CCC) visited my office today to join in our weekly 1:30 pm Monday meeting. With a conference call set up, employees and contractors in Winnipeg, MB, Durham NC, Kingston ON, and Gatineau PQ joined in the discussion about current and future business plans..

The meetings are now routine; Bill and Upkar taught me the model last year and while there have been astounding changes in the business since then, the essential component of regular and reliable (and accountable) communication has become a firm part of our systems.

With the meeting concluded, we discussed offline the online networking systems, especially Bill and Upkar don't think they work very well -- they say they've signed on to the networks because friends and colleagues have put their names into the systems, but they haven't seen any real business from them.

I think they have a point. While Internet systems have some value, they cannot replace the informal processes in your own community and through natural relationships. The Internet networks are theoretically useful if you are operating over wide geographical areas, but I found much more enlightening the observations of senior members of the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS):

The point here is these meaningful networks aren't built in a day, week, or even a year or two -- they can take decades to develop. You can sometimes bootstrap the process -- I got to some of the leading people in construction marketing within weeks by writing a story about them -- but this connection, even, is tenuous; I may have some access here that I wouldn't otherwise have, but I'm surely not yet anywhere near anyone's inner circle in that group.

The point is there is no quick fix and easy way to success in networking --yes, if you are good and have a good network, you can add to it or find a key lead or point of contact relatively easily, but this is AFTER you've proven your value and ability to give far more than you expect in return.

Sure, go ahead and sign up for services like Just don't expect an immediate connection to a powerful network of opportunity -- unless, of course, you are prepared to contribute and be patient.

You can reach Mark Buckshon by phone at 888-432-3555 ext 224 or by email at

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