The Efficient Networker

Can introductions be efficient yet not transactional? The trick is not just to find the right person to target, as social networks like LinkedIn and search tools do, but to enlist allies and manage a campaign to achieve a specific goal with that person.

NEW YORK – Long ago, I used to run a conference called PC Forum. People would say to me, “If only I could sit next to Bill Gates....” Just last week, a friend pulled me aside at a conference to ask for advice. “What’s the best way to make conferences more efficient for meeting people?” he asked. “Just like marketing, it seems it’s only about 50% effective.”

He was asking the wrong question. The interaction has to be two-way: Do other people really want to meet him?

A conference optimized to help my friend would fail, because the people everyone wants to meet are unlikely to show up. Indeed, does my friend have a right to their time? He told me that he had actually sat in a breakout group with 20 people, each of whom he wanted to meet, but he managed to talk to only two of them. I was a bit concerned. Was this guy I was trying to help actually a stalker?

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