Face-to-face networking is still the key to connections.

How important is face-to-face networking to sales, relationships, career, and success?

I asked my commercial insurance agent, John Cantrell, to give me a synopsis of his networking strategies. John has been a friend, client, and vendor for the past 22 years. Here are two important facts about John:
1. His insurance business has exploded with growth over the past 22 years.
2. He is a MAJOR business networker in Charlotte.

I wonder if these two facts are connected? (Hint: THEY ARE!)

I asked John to tell me what networking has meant to him and his business over the last 20 years. His immediate answer was, “It has been the foundation of my most valuable clients, friends, suppliers, and relationships!”

Here’s the background of how to succeed as a local business networker from arguably the toughest sales category on the planet: insurance.

Here is John’s story and tips in his own words:
When I started in the insurance business, the first things I did was join the Charlotte Chamber. I started in the insurance business in 1993 as a fresh graduate from East Carolina with a finance degree. My dad gave me an opportunity, a desk, a chair, and a salary with a declining scale. He wasn’t going to throw me into the 10 foot deep water immediately, but he did make the impact known that I had to learn how to eat what I kill.

Shortly after joining the Chamber, I was a little discouraged. One of my best friends, Richard Herd, and I were talking one day about me not continuing to participate in the Chamber. It was about six months after my joining and he said, “just stick it out, get involved, get on some committees, and see what happens after a year. If you don’t like it, I’ll pay for your membership.”
Little did I know that 20 years later some of the people that I met then would be my best friends and longest term clients. People like Richard Herd, Jeffrey Gitomer, Michael Meehan, Eileen Covington.

Here is John’s networking and leadership history in the Charlotte Chamber:

  1. Business Growth Network. Served on committees welcoming new members and meeting other small business owners.
  2. Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. Committee Member and Chair for three years. Involved in selecting, interviewing, and running the event held at the Convention Center.
  3. Charlotte Chamber Business Owner Peer Group. For five years he met monthly with non-competing business owners to discuss business problems. How to hire, fire, train, and market business.
  4. Chamber New Member Orientation. For two years he chaired and led a monthly meeting to explain how the Chamber works for new members.
  5. Charlotte Area Councils. John has been involved in this for ten years and he’s still active at the monthly lunch meetings where they bring in a speaker and offer time to network.
  6. Business After Hours. Cocktails after work with other business professionals at different venues around town. Great way to keep friendships current.
  7. Charlotte Chamber Board of Advisor. A higher level membership that attracts more of the high-level business owners and managers.

John says, “It’s about the developing core networking places and participating, getting involved, and establishing a leadership position. But, everyone is different. Some people are morning people, and some are night owls. Work at your best system and process that lets you get the most done in the time that you dedicate to networking.”

Here are John’s other core networking groups described in his own words:
Rotary. I have been in Rotary clubs since 1997, where I was the founder of Mecklenburg South Rotary. Rotary has been a great organization to participate in. It is not a sales networking organization. It is a service club that gives you the opportunity to meet and network with others.
Leads groups. I have been in numerous different groups that have differing levels of success. One of the best things that you can do in those is use it as opportunities to build relationships with people that you trust and value and work in similar circles as you do.

NOTE FROM JOHN TO NEWCOMERS: When you are brand-new in the sales world, you don’t have a lot of things filling your calendar. Fill it with networking events and Chamber events. Fill it with opportunities to meet and build your network of people. The best strategy is to help them achieve the things they’re trying to achieve. Pay it forward and you’ll always get paid back.

NOTE FROM JEFFREY: Thank you John for providing your personal achievements. You are a model networker. I hope many other salespeople and businesspeople will follow your path.

About the Author

Jeffrey GitomerJeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website,, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].

The Big Picture of Business- Anniversaries Honor the Past and Build Support for the Future

Anniversaries are important milestones. Organizations reflect on their heritage and accomplishments. In doing so, they build and widen stakeholder bases, enabling organizations to grow for the future.

I’ve recommended anniversary celebrations to client companies before. In each case, the results were phenomenal, because they took the effort to mount anniversary celebrations. In 1978, I was advising Uniroyal Tire Company. They wanted to sponsor a 40th anniversary for Little League Baseball. My research revealed that their company had in fact founded LLB, which younger generations of management did not know.

In 1998, I advised the Disney corporation and reminded them that Walt Disney’s 100th birthday in 2001 would offer great marketing and positioning opportunities. In 2007, I was advising the credit union industry of America, reminding them that their upcoming 100th anniversary in 2009 would provide outreach opportunities for chapter members around the country. This was news to them, and they jumped on it with relish. I’m the person who planted the ideas and strategy. Great organizations work tirelessly to celebrate and involve their customers.

When one reflects at changes, he-she sees directions for the future. Change is innovative. Customs come and go…some should pass and others might well have stayed with us. The past is an excellent barometer for the future. One can always learn from the past, dust it off and reapply it. Living in the past is not good, nor is living in the present without wisdom of the past.

Here are some recent celebrations that drew acclaim and participation: Rice University, 100th in 2012. Star Furniture, 100th in 2012. Houston Symphony Orchestra, 100th in 2013. Civil Rights Act, 50th. Beatles coming to America, 50th. The Port of Houston, 100th in 2014. “The Star Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key, 200th in 2014.

These anniversaries should be celebrated in 2015: The Galleria, 45th. The Astrodome, 50th. University of Texas System, 50th. Houston Ballet, 60th. Houston Grand Opera, 60th. Texas Medical Center, 70th. “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll, 150th.

These anniversaries should be celebrated in 2016: Houston Community College, 45th. Star Trek, 50th. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, 75th. Houston Livestock Show and Rode, 85th. Gulf Oil, 100th. The Houston Chronicle, 115th. University of Texas Medical Branch, 125th. Scholz Garden in Austin (Texas’ oldest bar), 150th. Sir Isaac Newton discovering gravity, 350th.

These anniversaries should be celebrated in 2017: NASA’s move to Houston, 55th. launching of the world’s first satellite, Sputnik, 60th. The Alley Theatre, 70th. Texas Southern University, 70th. The Gulf Freeway (Texas’ first), 70th. The University of Houston, 90th. Exxon (Humble Oil & Refining Company), 100th. Phillips Petroleum, 100th.

These anniversaries should be celebrated in 2018: Metropolitan Transit Authority, 40th. Houston Public Television, 65th. Baylor College of Medicine moved to Houston, 75th. The Heights annexed by City of Houston, 100th. End of World War I, 100th. “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley, 200th.

These anniversaries should be celebrated in 2019: Houston Intercontinental Airport, 50th. NASA lunar landing, 50th. Suez Canal, 150th.

There are seven kinds of anniversary reunions:

  1. Pleasurable. Seeing an old friend who has done well, moved in a new direction and is genuinely happy to see you too. These include chance meetings, reasons to reconnect and a concerted effort by one party to stay in the loop.
  2. Painful. Talking to someone who has not moved forward. It’s like the conversation you had with them 15 years ago simply resumed. They talk only about past matters and don’t want to hear what you’re doing now. These include people with whom you once worked, old romances, former neighbors and networkers who keep turning up like bad pennies and colleagues from another day and time.
  3. Mandated. Meetings, receptions, etc. Sometimes, they’re pleasurable, such as retirement parties, open houses, community service functions. Other times, they’re painful, such as funerals or attending a bankruptcy creditors’ meeting.
  4. Instructional. See what has progressed and who have changed. Hear the success stories. High school reunions fit into this category, their value depending upon the mindset you take with you to the occasion.
  5. Reflect Upon the Past. Reconnecting with old friends, former colleagues and citizens for whom you have great respect. This is an excellent way to share each other’s progress and give understanding for courses of choice.
  6. Benchmarking. Good opportunities to compare successes, case studies, methodologies, learning curves and insights. When “the best” connects with “the best,” this is highly energizing.
  7. Goal Inspiring. The synergy of your present and theirs inspires the future. Good thinkers are rare. Stay in contact with those whom you know, admire and respect. It will benefit all involved.

7 Levels of Learning from the Past:

  1. Re-reading, reviewing and finding new nuggets in old files.
  2. Applying pop culture to today.
  3. Review case studies and their patterns for repeating themselves.
  4. Discern the differences between trends and fads.
  5. Learn from successes and three times more from failures.
  6. Transition your focus from information to knowledge.
  7. Apply thinking processes to be truly innovative.

When we see how far we have come, it gives further direction for the future. Ideas make the future happen. Technology is but one tool of the trade. Futurism is about people, ideas and societal evolution, not fads and gimmicks. The marketplace tells us what they want, if we listen carefully. We also have an obligation to give them what they need.

Apply history to yourself. The past repeats itself. History is not something boring that you once studied in school. It tracks both vision and blind spots for human beings. History can be a wise mentor and help you to avoid making critical mistakes.

About the Author

Hank MoorePower Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

Power Stars to Light the Business Flame is now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.