Networking expert pens second book

Direct contact still key in electronic era, Condon says

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

Published:

 
photoKathy Condon

Book talk

“Face-to-Face Networking: It’s All About Communication” by Kathy Condon, Vancouver networking and executive coach, will be released Wednesday, June 29. It’s available in Vancouver for $15.95 at Beacock’s Music, 1420 S.E. 163rd Ave.; and Java House, 210 W. Evergreen Blvd. On the Web: Amazon.com and kathy@kathycondon...

These days, we use our hands often to tap out electronic messages.

But Kathy Condon says our hands can play a much more powerful role in communication. Combining a firm handshake with direct eye contact and a winning smile makes each recipient of the gesture feel like the most important person on earth.

“At that moment, he or she is the only person that matters to you,” said Condon, a Vancouver networking coach who has just finished writing her second self-published book on the topic.

Condon’s 166-page “Face-to-Face Networking: It’s All About Communication” is filled with tips — for the novice or the old hand — on the art of meeting and forming relationships with potential clients, colleagues and friends. Written “how-to” style, the book tells readers everything about networking, from where to find an event to the best way to position your name tag.

Condon’s chapter on hand shaking talks about the importance of executing a good handshake (the “Vs” of each hand meet, grip firmly, pump twice) and the social nuances of a poorly carried-out greeting.

“There are a lot of wimpy handshakes out there, both men and women,” Condon said. “But we don’t talk about it openly.”

The Columbian sat down with Condon, 62, to discuss the art of meeting people face-to-face and its importance in an era of electronic social networking. The interview was edited for length and clarity.

How has networking changed in the last 10 years?

Very frankly, it has not changed. The mechanism for finding out about events has changed. But the overriding importance of face-to-face networking has not changed. Ideas flow when you are facing someone. We’re more likely to go off subject and brainstorm than when we write an email or a LinkedIn message.

So, you don’t approve of LinkedIn and other social networking platforms?

I’m not saying that. I mean, people are asking me all the time to connect, but I only accept invitations if they’ve looked at my profile. My advice is to take the time to write a personal note. The overriding message (with networking) is helping people feel that they are significant and important in your life. This book is about the human touch. It’s becoming more and more important as we turn to technology for most of our communication needs.

Which networking events should we attend?

I do not believe you should go to a networking event where you will not learn something or have fun. These are my two criteria. There are hundreds of events in our community, There is no point in going to something unless you have a chance to grow.

What’s your advice for the extremely shy?

Once you get to the event, the skills for beginning and maintaining a conversation remain the same. Go up to a person who is standing alone, extend your hand for a handshake, say your name and smile. I like to say, “Tell me a great thing that happened to you recently.” Then listen to the answer. Trust me, the person will start talking. His or her answer will provide you with ideas for all kinds of things that you can ask to follow up.

What are some of the faux pas of face-to-face networking?

Not having your contact cards with you — how does anybody get in touch with you? And going to a breakfast, lunch or dinner event, but slipping in just in time for the meal. What’s the point? The only people you end up meeting are the people at your table. Often, that is your corporate table, so you end up talking with the people you see at the watercooler every day instead of getting out there and sharing information about you and your company.

How does one break away from a stale conversation?

All you have to do is say, “Excuse me, I promised myself I would meet three people tonight. I have two more to go.” Then ask, “May I have your contact card?” No one will ever feel you’re being rude if you do that. Trust me, people don’t stay awake at night thinking about how you broke away from them.

Condon will host a public book-signing event at 4 p.m. June 29 at the Java House, 210 W. Evergreen Blvd., Vancouver.