Networking Tips: An Interview with Porter Gale for BlogHer Entrepreneurs
With BlogHer Entrepreneurs just over a month and a half away, I am delighted to bring you an interview that might encourage you to attend. Porter Gale is a marketing expert with over 20 years of experience working in branding, social media, advertising and filmmaking. Her first book, Your Network Is Your Net Worth will be published in 2013. Unfortunately, she cannot make it to our amazing conference March 21-22, but she wanted to lend a hand. I took some time to interview her, to pick her brain for you so that you might understand how networking -- online or at a conference -- might help you in your endeavors.
Her answers are interesting, encouraging and informative for those who have been at this for awhile and for those just starting down the entrepreneurial path.
Image courtesy Porter Gale.
1. Share a little about how you have come to understand so much about networking in today's world. I think a bit of your experience might help our readers!
Over the last twenty years, I’ve had many career moves and relationship bumps. I started my career as an intern at an advertising agency, rose up the ranks to become a General Manager and ultimately was hired as the Vice President of Marketing at Virgin America. What I realized over the years is that having a strong network, or people to turn to for support and collaboration, was a key to finding new opportunities, happiness and success.
Because I feel so strongly about the power and value of connections, I wrote a book called Your Network Is Your Net Worth: Unlock the Power of Connections for Wealth, Success and Happiness in the Digital Age. In the book, I interviewed many business icons and everyday heroes and found that to have a strong network you need to have a sense of your overall net worth. And by “net worth,” I don’t mean the status of your financial accounts. I believe we should measure our “net worth” by looking at our social capital or value of our relationships.
2. Many of our BlogHer Entrepreneurs attendees already have built large networks in the digital age, but some are likely just starting out. What's one bit of advice you would give to someone trying to start their networks now?
If you’re just starting out it’s important to recognize that networking has evolved from a transactional game into a transformational process. My main bit of advice is that it’s not just about “who you know,” it’s about “who you are becoming as a person.” The new way to network and build your true net worth is about charting your own course, living life based on your passions, and being the best you can be. In today’s world, what’s important is no longer about power plays but more about what you value and how—and with whom—you want to get there.
3. For those attendees who have already built their large networks, share a bit about how they might best interact with and utilize those people.
For those of you with large networks, my advice is to stay focused on activities and relationships that support your core passions and purpose. Don’t over schedule your calendar and focus on building relationships based on shared values and interests. When you do this, you will have stronger, more authentic connections. I also recommend that you help others as often as possible. One way to do this is to keep the simple phrase, ‘How can I help?’ in the back of your mind. The more you ‘give’ the more you ‘get.’ So, give and give again. Don’t hoard your contacts, collaborate and hare your experiences and focus on helping others as much as possible.
4. Would you care to share a networking mistake that you made and how it shaped your experience?
Early in my career I was fearful of asking for help and also had unrealistic ideals about perfectionism. Perhaps it was my Midwestern Minnesotan roots, but often I tried to accomplish tasks alone and would only share my ideas if they were ‘perfect.’ With age, I’ve learned that collaboration and connecting with others is a much more satisfying, fulfilling and productive way to live. Now I network constantly and share ideas and thoughts even if they’re only in the concept stage. I’ve learned that working and collaborating with others is a very satisfying and productive way to work and live.
5. What inspired you to write this book and help other entrepreneurs?
During my time at Virgin America, I started to fully understand the power and value of my network. Because of the airline, I met hundreds of new contacts (on the plane and off!) and I realized my happiness, productivity and career satisfaction was rising in correlation to the strength of my network. During this period, I also became increasingly interested in social media and how technology had reduced the degree of separation between contacts making it easier for us to make connections on and offline. I found myself sharing my stories in speeches, at dinner parties and ultimately I was compelled to share my ideas and lessons in a book to teach others about the tips and tricks I learned to build my network and improve my life. I hope my book Your Network Is Your Net Worth will inspire you to authentically connect with others for greater happiness and success. I hope to hear about your network stories, please send me a tweet at @portergale or email me at email@example.com.
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