Leadership On The Run


Episode Summary

What is your networking style - learner, seeker or conduit? In this episode of Leadership on the run Jeanine Browne and Paul Saunders are joined by two experts in networking. Discover your style and how to maximise your networking experiences.

Episode Notes

Despite figures suggesting CEO’s who have diverse networks create higher firm value up to $81 million for a medium sized firm on the stock exchange (Harvard Business Review, April 2018), a study of MBA students (2007) at a specially organise networking event found that 95% of attendees wanted to meet new contacts, yet they spent 50% of their time with people they already knew. 

This holds true for young leaders ‘Leadership on the Run’ have personally spoken to about their experiences in networking during 2020. Many of the graduates we spoke to said they ‘hated’ going to network meeting/events because of the pressures to: ‘get new contacts’ ‘speak to people face to face’ and ‘socialise with people they do not know’.

In this episode of Leadership on the Run our hosts, Jeanine Browne and Paul Saunders, Directors at LN Consulting Australia Pty Ltd are joined by Susan Franzen and Herb Dyer, Co-Founders and Directors at Pattern Shifts a performance Improvement Firm in based in the USA. 

They are discussing a networking framework – learners | seekers | conduits which Jeanine adapted from a colleague’s categorisation of networking styles they have encountered.

What is your networking style?

Learners – want to know how to do something and ask questions to uncover the ‘how to’ knowledge in the room.

Seekers – want to know where to find something and ask questions specific to that task e.g. has anyone found a good conferencing centre with Wi-Fi included?

Conduits – have something to help others and are happy to share they knowledge, contacts, skills, or products. 

How do I to build a network?

You can use a network for different purposes – not just getting clients or getting a new job recommendation. Networking can be for operational, personal, or strategic purposes i.e. getting work done efficiently, enhancing personal and professional development, and figuring out priorities and challenges, respectively.

Herb and Susan recommend when building your network to focus on gathering a diverse bunch of people, maintaining genuine respect for others, and fostering trust within your network. 

Herb adds, a personal relaxed approach and patience are also required. Building a network takes time. You want to avoid becoming intimidating and keep initial conversations of a general nature -social chat about topical issues before moving into a more intimate level of conversation about the individuals likes/dislikes in their work life. 

Taking this gradual (patient) approach will lead to a more relaxing & positive interaction and lays the foundation for more meaningful conversations in the future.

Only after exhausting the individual conversation is it appropriate to move onto the more strategic questions e.g. what impact has Ai (insert any industry trend) had on you/your role/your business?” However, this is unlikely to come up in a first encounter or during a 1-hour networking event.



Virtual networking

These days much time is spent communicating virtually. Thankfully, the same rules apply for building networks in the virtual world as those in the physical space – respect, diversity, being curious and interacting with a mindset for genuine connection, learning & discovery. 

Susan has a seemingly foolproof way of building her network in this arena. Susan uses LinkedIn to connect with people she sees are working in industries or roles that fascinate her. She messages them, stating her interest, in the format of several questions, and invites them to connect with her via phone to discuss these areas of interest. 

Preparation steps

Prior to any networking occasion there are a few steps you can take to prepare to enhance the opportunities.

  1. Remember you are building a relationship – not conducting a transaction.
  2. Set yourself an achievable  goal – make 1 solid contact.
  3. Determine if you will be seeking, learning or a conduit.
  4. Prepare a couple of questions so you do not have to ad-lib when faced with an opportunity to interact.
  5. Determine an action strategy – I’ll look for people standing by themselves and approach them or I’ll invite 3 people to the event and invite others into our conversation/make their night special or I’ll seek out the speaker and introduce myself to them.
  6. Develop a curious, growth mindset.
  7. Relax – everyone is nervous at these events… people will be pleased you have chosen to listen to their story.

Power questions to ask to nail your next networking event?

Paul highlights the mindset you take into networking impacts your outcome. He and Susan both favour mindsets of curiosity and learning. Asking questions of the individual, get them to talk about what interests them.

  1. “How did get to be where you are?”
  2. “What are you working on at present that is (insert an adjective e.g. exciting you/challenging you)?”
  3. “What do you enjoy about being in your role?”

All the best with your networking.




Herb Dyer is a renowned speaker in the states and Susan Franzen actively organises and collaborates with a network of professional associates making them eminently qualified to share their experiences and tips about networking in this podcast.