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[The art of] People Networking

November 6, 2009


1. [The art of] People Networking

Subject: [Vnbiz] People Networking
From: “Tran Dinh Hoanh”
Date: Thu, March 30, 2006 11:00 pm

[Vietnam Business Forum]

Dear CACC,

Someone has given me a question about networking, people net working that is. This is a very good and practical question, so I would like to use the opportunity to share with everyone my thought and experience about that.

Networking is the term used intensively among professionals, to build your circle of friends and contacts. We all do networking, whether we think that we are doing it or not. The difference is only in the level of skill.
I have to start out by a disclaimer that I do not consider myself of networker, a network professional or a person skillful in networking. As a matter of fact, I have always ranked myself “lousy networker.” The reason is that I don’t like crowd. Most people think that I would be right at home in a crowd, the way I talk publicly for years and years. The real sad fact L is that I always feel lost in a crowd. If I have a task to do, say, a trail, a speech, a lesson, a seminar, a music performance, I am comfortable talking to or working in front of a crowd. But if I don’t have a job to focus my mind on, I always feel uneasy and lost a little in a crowd. And that is not a good thing for a networking professional. Good networker loves the crowd! I am saying this so you know that probably I am the wrong person to ask about networking.

But I live in Washington DC, the political center of the world. You can imagine that networking in Washington is like tea drinking in Hanoi. I naturally know networking by just living in an intense networking environment, hanging out with friends many of whom are politicos from governments around the world, and by doing work in Washington. I have never read a formal book on networking and generally hate networking. Nevertheless, I do end up with a number of good friends around the world. I guess people would say that “networking.” I call my work “friendship building.” Maybe they are the same, just a matter of preferred terminology. Or maybe there is real difference between them. Anyway, I will just go over them in a very unscientific method still hoping that I can convey something useful to you brothers/sisters out there.

1. Tell people about your work and interest: This is the starting point. If you are interested about youth issues and are planning to do something about those issues, then make sure that you talk about it often with your friends. Eventually everyone will know about your interest, so when they have something interesting about your interest, they will let you know. They may introduce you to their friends with the same interest, or invite you to a meeting talking about such interest. Those are your chance to meet new people of the same interest.

2. Ask to be invited to meetings on the issues of your interest. If a friend has some kind of meeting with other folks on some issue of your interest, ask him if you may attend their meeting. And if you will attend, prepare yourself a little so that you can chip in some idea, or ask some interesting questions in the meeting. That is how people will want you to be in their meetings in the future.

3. Be present at all meetings and gatherings (organized by anyone) that cover the subject of your interest. Be active at these meetings. You don’t have to be very active, but if you don’t say anything in these meetings, it would hurt.

4. Just call and talk to whoever (in the government or NGO or whatever) that may have some info that may help you. Say, call someone in Ministry of Justice to ask abut some kind of law or legal issue. Invite them out to lunch so you can have better question. My experience is that most people will say “yes” to an invitation to lunch if they are not too busy.

I did a lot of these three points.

5. Attend lots of gatherings, especially social gatherings, at restaurants, picnics, bars, etc Namely, hang out with people, the more the better. (Note: I see many people do this and they are very successful. I don’t do this at all. So I am just lousy at this).

6. “Working the crowd.” I think this phrase connotes a meaning that ranges from neutral to bad. Meaning, in a crowd, you go around and mingle with other people, shake their hand, introduce yourself, exchange business cards, talk a little, then say bye and go to the next person. My daughter is very good at this. I am really lousy at this. I just don’t feel comfortable in a crowd. (Note: Most networking professionals I know do this intensively and, by my observation, many are not very good at it. They would talk to you a couple of minutes, all general and meaningless, with their eyes glancing around the room searching for their next target while “talking” to you).
The following points are more on what I call “friendship building.”

7. I like to spend time privately with a friend. Either over lunch, dinner or whatever.

8. I try to be interested in his/her family, his/her spouse & children too.

9. I don’t pick friend by label. If someone likes to talk to me, I like to talk to him/her. I have all kinds of friend. You name the kinds of people, chances are I have at least a friend in each kind. I train my mind not to be prejudiced. You introduce to me the Pope or a murderer, I am not sure that my mind will give the Pope any preference over the murderer. An unprejudiced mind may bring us lots of friends.

10. Honesty and a sincere interest in people will bring us lots of friends.

11. If you have an expertise and if you have a reputation of “wise and honest,” people will naturally ask you for advice a lot. “Wise” means you know what you’re talking about. “Honest” means you speak from a pure, unprejudiced heart.

That’s all I do. Not sure if I have presented anything scientific at all. And I am so sleepy now too. If I don’t make sense, please just ask me, I try to be clearer tomorrow.

Hope this helps.

Have a great day!


Tran Dinh Hoanh, LLB, JD
Attorney of Law
Washington DC

2.A presentation of a VnBiz member

People networking

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