Unconventional Networking Wisdom: Insights from Business Giants

Christina Metcalf
Christina Metcalf
Published on 11/13/2023

In professional networking, where connections are currency, tracking your connections and referrals is incredibly important to understanding what areas best deserve your attention for the strongest return on investment. But while tracking is important, you first need something to track. If you’re ready to improve your networking and increase your referrals, take a few tips from these titans of business. This wisdom takes a detour from the conventional and navigates the uncharted waters of creative networking.

Embrace the Unpredictable

The late Steve Jobs, the visionary behind Apple, once said, "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward." In the world of networking, embracing the unpredictable can be a key to success. Instead of meticulously planning every interaction, leave room for spontaneity. Attend events outside your comfort zone, strike up conversations with unexpected contacts, and allow for serendipity to play its part in expanding your professional circle.

Invest in Yourself

Contrary to the belief that networking is all about talking, sometimes it pays to embrace silence. Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, is known for his wisdom and simplicity. He once remarked, "The most important investment you can make is in yourself." Before you run headfirst into the next big business trend, think about how you might improve your knowledge or give yourself a tool that may increase your efficiency or abilities. It won’t just benefit you, but your new understanding can help your network as well.


Tom Brewer said, “Listening is very inexpensive; not listening could be very costly! Applying this to networking, take moments of silence to listen actively. Understanding the needs of others can forge stronger connections than an endless stream of self-promotion. Listening can also help you uncover opportunities and connections that others may not see. Plus, listening and attention are some of the most valuable gifts you can give, and they are absolutely free.

Just Do

Philosopher, naturalist, and author Henry David Thorough is believed to have said, “Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” While planning is important, there’s something to be said for action. Busy people find a way to become more efficient and get things done. But there is a successful middle ground. If you’re too busy, you’ll burn out or miss out.


Some people are afraid to bloom. They’re filled with self-doubt or suffer from imposter’s syndrome. If you’re feeling that way, take some advice from writer Anaïs Nin when she said, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Dress to Impress, Inside Out

Coco Chanel, the iconic fashion designer, had a unique take on networking, stating, "Dress shabbily, and they remember the dress; dress impeccably, and they remember the woman." In the context of professional networking, this advice can be translated into the idea of dressing not just in external attire but in confidence and authenticity. Showcase your inner strengths and values, as these intangibles often leave a lasting impression in a sea of superficial connections.

Know Risk-Taking Is Not Just a Corporate Buzzword

Elon Musk, the maverick entrepreneur behind Tesla and SpaceX, once quipped, "Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough." Apply this daring spirit to your networking endeavors. Don't be afraid to take risks, whether it's reaching out to someone you don’t know well or in an unconventional way, proposing a bold idea, or venturing into uncharted territories within your industry. Remember, the greatest opportunities often lie off the beaten path.

Add Humor to Your Networking

Mark Twain, the legendary humorist and writer, had a unique perspective on success: "The secret of getting ahead is getting started." Inject a dose of humor into your networking efforts. Remember that people connect more easily when they share a laugh. Attend networking events with a lighthearted approach, share amusing anecdotes, and break the ice with a well-timed joke. Laughter has a universal language that can transcend professional barriers but do stay away from political or cultural jokes/stereotypes. You want to make friends, not alienate them.

Learn the Zen of Networking

Take a page out of the book of mindfulness with a quote from the Dalai Lama: "Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something, and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent." In the world of networking, finding moments of stillness and presence can be powerful. Practice active listening, be fully present in your interactions, and let the energy of the moment guide your networking journey.

Networking has been an essential part of business since people initially traded items and it’s not going anywhere. What has changed is how technology and software are incorporated in your endeavors. Successful networking is a skill and art, but it is only as good as your ability to track and hone your efforts.

About the author

Christina Metcalf

Christina Metcalf is a writer who loves stories and specializes in assisting small businesses and chambers of commerce to tell theirs.


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