up your chances - Schmooze or lose - It's who you
know that counts, by Hugh Montgomery - 8th March 2006
The Sydney Morning Herald)
Greg Tingle was interviewed at length by Hugh Montgomery
The first grisly lesson for anyone
entering the job market is to throw the books
away. It's who you know, not what you know, that
counts. As a young PR consultant, nothing filled
me with more horror than the pressure to "work
a room". Arriving at industry get-togethers
with a business card hastily scrawled in felt-tip
pen and avocado stains down my front, I looked
more out of place than Paris Hilton at a Vatican
still comes with a powerful stigma, even though
it's vital for developing business portfolios
or finding job opportunities. A friend of mine
calls it "careerist brownnosing by the professionally
the fact is, it works. Greg Tingle was a blue-collar
boy "destined to drive trucks" until
he gatecrashed the media world five years ago.
Now he runs his own PR firm and lists himself
as "a TV presenter, journalist, radio broadcaster,
internet author, all-round media entrepreneur
and man of business brilliance".
cast his net wide for career openings, unable
to rely on the traditional avenues of family and
friends. His big break came in 2000 when he rang
2UE's John Laws to offer the inside scoop on life
in the athletes' village at the Sydney Olympics,
where he was a volunteer. It was the beginning
of a lucrative relationship with Laws, 2UE and
Southern Cross Broadcasting.
approach to networking is no-holds-barred. One
time, he cornered celebrity PR man Max Markson
for a photo at the launch of his book, Show Me
the Money! They've since collaborated on projects
for stars such as Shane Warne and he now considers
Markson "like family".
RoAne, author of How to Work a Room, insists we
shouldn't be ashamed of networking. It's simply
about "sharing resources", which has
been occurring ever since "Eve offered Adam
an apple in the garden of Eden".
she says, there is a definite need to resurrect
the art of conversation.
[is the culprit] in most countries," she
says. "People are doing things online and
not face-to-face ... they email the person at
the next desk instead of getting up and going
to talk to them."
what are the secrets for triumph at those dreaded
networking events? Internet research is vital,
otherwise you might accidentally ask the chief
executive to refill your wine glass. "With
Google, we can go into every event a little bit
more prepared," RoAne says.
starters are also important, so if your knowledge
of international affairs doesn't run beyond Brad
and Angelina, it's time to scour the newspaper.
This means reading the footy pages, even if you
have as much interest in sport as jumping around
a padded cell.
denies that networking is manipulative and fake,
even though some of the advice she reads in self-help
books "turned my stomach, [it] was so smarmy".
"I don't have children, but I have [learned]
that when people have children, that's what they
talk about," she says. "I couldn't care
less about the [food] mothers are feeding their
babies but if I want to have a relationship or
do business, I've got to be a little more flexible."
suggests a seven-to-nine-second "opening
gambit" that puts a humorous spin on your
job title to make you stand out from the crowd.
meanwhile, believes in flashy business cards.
Rather than opting for Patrick Bateman-style monochrome
sleekness, try something more flamboyant. Tingle's
are black and gold and "stand out a million
also carries around recent clippings of his work.
"[People] like to see what's occupying someone
at the moment," he says. "Just to make
sure they're being active and hitting some runs."
beware: even the smoothest networker can be relegated
to a "one-night stand" if follow-up
with a contact is poor. "While everyone else
is emailing, text messaging or maybe doing nothing,"
RoAne says, "you [should] send a note saying,
'Thank-you for [your] time', and they will be
happy to recommend you further. We save thank-you
notes, we don't save thank-you emails."
it's important to store your hard-earned contacts.
Carole Stone, a prolific party hostess and author
of Networking - The Art of Making Friends, keeps
a personal database with more than 25,000 "friends".
The database contains information on when they
met, who introduced them, what events she's invited
them to before as well as details on their partners
- both personal and professional.
is famous for her regular "salons" at
her London flat, attended by some of Britain's
leading movers and shakers. Her annual Christmas
bash is no drinks'n'nibbles affair with the rellies,
but a gargantuan military operation with a guest
list of 1000 including cabinet ministers and movie
stars. "As the replies come in, I update
my database with new telephone numbers and addresses,"
she says. "That's a big job that sometimes
keeps me up all night."
is the ultimate proof of how networking can, as
RoAne says, become a "lifestyle not a work
where does that leave me? I'm still a grumpy hermit
who enjoys showing disdain for 99.9 per cent of
human kind, but I must admit the concept of networking
has become ever-so-slightly more palatable.
a social event the day after speaking with RoAne,
I decide to follow some of her advice. I talk
footy, despite not having touched a playing field
this side of the millennium. I discuss my career
without being stunted by a terminal bout of self-deprecation.
I even log the phone numbers of people I meet
on something more durable than a napkin.
I walk away with a fistful of contacts and a small
glow of self-satisfaction, I begin to wonder if
being "a schmoozer, not a loser" is
really as hideous as it sounds.
networking a necessary evil? Share your tips at
TO GET AHEAD
Treat networking as a lifestyle, not a work style.
Before you attend an event, use the internet to
find out about people who might be there.
Read that day's newspaper to pick up some conversation
Prepare a seven-to-nine-second light-hearted introduction
explaining what you do.
"Good mouth" others and pass on praise
you have heard.
Follow up contacts in a timely and "appropriately
Send handwritten thank-you notes - we all want
to be appreciated.
Stay in touch via phone, fax and email even when
you need nothing from people. You'll seem altruistic
even though you're not.
Susan RoAne, www.susanroane.com
Sydney Morning Herald