I lead quite a few workshops on business building and career development, and most, if not all, of my coaching clients have heard me ramble on about the power of ‘real’ networking. I’m more than just a big fan of networking because it’s one of the top three methods I’ve used to build my coaching practice.

Well, I’ve got a true story for you – one that recently happened to me that will illustrate the power of networking. But before we get into the story, let me give you my definition of ‘real’ networking, because in today’s business world, networking is not the same as what your grandfather (or even your father) might have done.

The simplest definition of networking I have is ‘Networking is creating connections and great relationships’.  But let’s take that step further and say what it’s not.  It’s not just “I’ll do business with you, if you agree to do business with me”.  Nope, it’s more than that.

The famous sales trainer Zig Ziglar, would preach that nearly everyone knows 100 people.  If you tap into the 100 people that everyone in your network knows, you could create an amazing spider-web of thousands of people.

So, ‘real’ networking is connecting people you know together with folks they don’t know.  And when you do, they might have results that my story demonstrates.

I have a friend whose employer was acquired by a competitor, and as is the case with many mergers, his position was eliminated.  We talked about his contacting, or networking, with business associates, customers and friends about his situation, and he quickly found another (even better) job.

Well, here’s where the plot thickens.  I was recently quoted in an Atlanta area newspaper article about career coaching, and I was contacted by someone, let’s call him John, who read the article.  John wanted me to be his career coach because, like my friend, his position was eliminated because of a merger several years back, and since then he had not been able to find work he loved, and for which he was experienced and trained.  From then to the time we spoke, John held various temporary jobs, was a teacher, worked in a mall department story, and did whatever he could do to keep paying the bills.

It turns out that John and my friend worked in the same industry and it seemed to me – and stay with me here – it could be a great idea to get them connected.  So, to open the lines of communications, I asked my now gainfully employed friend, if he’d be willing to help someone else in my network who has been in a similar situation, and who was interested in rejoining the industry’s workforce.  He agreed, told me how he’d prefer to be contacted, and I provided the connection information to John.

I received an email from John a few weeks ago.  It seems my friend introduced John to someone in HIS network who recently made him an employment offer.  You see how helpful making that connection was?

John showed his gratitude by referring two folks in his network to me who have become coaching clients.  More importantly, John has become a permanent part of my network, as long as I nurture and maintain that connection. That’s real networking.