Networking queen shows IABC how it’s done

Donna Messer works a room like nobody else.

Members and guests of IABC/Toronto’s Professional Independent Communicators (PIC) saw first-hand on January 9 why Donna is known as the Queen of Networking. If any of us expected a traditional PowerPoint presentation, we quickly found out that Donna doesn’t work that way.

Networking, Donna told us, is “a systematic process that gets measurable results. If you aren’t getting results, you aren’t networking.”

Making her way from person to person, Donna demonstrated that networking is really “business matchmaking”: take what you learn about a new contact and find a match in your network. A healthcare writer, for instance, might like to be introduced to someone you know who leads communications in a hospital.

Use the “3 Ws“: Who are you? What do you need? What are you willing to share?

Donna explained the “3 Cs of networking” as collaboration, communication and commitment, found in these four steps:

  1. Develop a “give before you get” approach. Think of who you know who has something in common and help make the introduction without expecting anything in return. Find common ground by asking: What do you like to do? What associations do you belong to? What’s your favourite vacation spot? What are your hobbies? Where do you volunteer? What’s on your bucket list?
  2. Use social media wisely. Post information that others will want to share. Set Google Alerts for your own name and companies or people you want to connect with. If you don’t have a blog yet, start one, writing about what you know and who you know.
  3. Follow up with new contacts. Give something — information, a link, a name. You want people to feel they’ve been given a gift.
  4. Measure results. Ask people to let you know what comes of the connections you made.

Other networking tips included:

  • To help the speaker at an event remember you, talk to him/her before he/she speaks to you.
  • When you follow up with someone, send an email that can be forwarded to make an introduction.
  • Don’t wait until you need a network to build it.
  • If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
  • Social capital is what you know about who you know (“she’s crazy about dogs”).
  • Ask “How should I communicate with you?” Donna prefers email to LinkedIn, which requires an extra step.
  • If the contact prefers to connect by email, ask what to put in the subject line. Donna’s request is “I met you at…”
  • Don’t interrupt two people talking; three is fine, but wait for a break in the conversation to comment on something you overheard.

Donna mentioned that the PIC group was her third event of the day, but her energy and enthusiasm certainly gave no hint.

“Networking is the single most important thing you can do to get a job, keep a job, find a man, whatever!” she said. “It’s magic.”

Photo: Donna Messer, left, with Patricia Davies of PIC. Photo by Alan McKenzie,

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  1. Posted January 14, 2013 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    Great writeup. YOU are the QUEEN of Event Reviews!

  2. Posted January 14, 2013 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Donna, you are too kind!

  3. Posted January 15, 2013 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this report, Sue, & thanks to Donna for posting a link on facebook. But I think you can spend a lot of time doing this kind of networking & not enough time on your main function. Maybe it’s a question of terminology, but I prefer to work on relationship building rather than networking. I want quality of connection, not quantity of weak ones.

  4. Posted January 15, 2013 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Gloria, I agree you want to build a relationship, and done right, that’s what this kind of networking can do. If I meet someone and discover she has an interest in common with someone else I know, putting those people in contact with each other can help build a relationship with both parties. There just has to be some value to the person I already know.

  5. Posted January 16, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the review, Sue! Wish I could have been there in person to network!

  6. Posted January 16, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for commenting, Heather! Sorry you missed it. Of course, there’s a chance to network with PIC every month…

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