Rise and Flow –
The Evolution of Networking

- Donna Messer





According to the dictionary – to rise is to move from a lower to a higher position; to ascend. To rise is be prominent. To rise is to come into existence, to originate. To rise is to attain a higher status, to meet a demand or challenge. To rise is to return to life.

RISE™ - what a powerful acronym for networking!

R – is for rapport. Rapport is the first stage of networking. You need to get to know each other before you move on to the next step. Building rapport means finding common denominators – what it there between you and those you meet that you can recognize as “shared” interests? Using a W3 – Who are you? What do you need? What are you willing to share? - is often the starting point to building a positive and interactive relationship. We all like to help each other, and by sharing our wants and needs there automatically seems to be a willingness to share our resources. A bond is created quickly, and that often results in moving to the next stage of networking which is the gathering of information.

I – is for information. Once you have determined your common denominators, you are ready to gather the information that will make an effective networking experience for both parties. How you find that information and what you do with it, is how you utilize your resources. Knowing more about a person provides you with the opportunity to share your resources. You won't know what you can share until you have determined what their needs might be. When gathering information use the Internet, check Web sites, associations, volunteer organization – anything that will help you cement a relationship, and develop a rapport that will create a business opportunity for both sides of the introduction. Ethical, effective networking is about creating a win on both sides of the introduction. It is not strictly about buying and selling products and services.

S – is for solutions. After building the rapport and finding relevant information that will be valuable to your connection, you need to determine what you hope to gain from your contact. This part of the strategy is crucial. Networking must be a win/win for both parties in every introduction - you want to make sure that both you and the other party get a return on the time you have both invested. It is at this stage of the program that you can actually set goals, develop an action plan and move into results driven mode. Networking is one of the best tools you have when it is used correctly. It provides you with a roadmap of whom you want to know, what you can learn about that person and where you want to take that knowledge once learned.

E – is for ethical. Whether you use networking to further your education, find employment or get engaged, networking must be based on integrity. We are in a new era, one that is based on trust and that trust must be earned. No longer can you refer colleagues strictly because you have their business card, or know their area of expertise, now you must know about their Social Capital.

Social Capital is knowing more about a person, it's taking the time to understand not only what they do, but what they like to do. It's learning about their hobbies, special interests and in some cases what goals they have set for themselves.

Practice the “art” of effective networking. Recognize the importance of your communications styles and the stages you must move through to complete the cycle of ethical networking.

In this new culture of integrity – no longer can you just assume that exchanging business cards is all that is needed to obtain the contacts and referrals you need. Now, you must not only build the rapport, you must make sure that you find ways to help the other person with their goals and objectives. Networking has become a skill that needs to be learned, it is a process that has a beginning, a middle and an end. It is measurable and if you don't get the return on investment that you need – chances are you aren't really looking at networking as an equation where there must be a balance.


According to the dictionary to FLOW is to move or run smoothly with unbroken continuity, To circulate. To move, with a continual shifting. To proceed steadily and easily. To RISE™.

For the purposes of this article and the process that networking is taking we are going to use FLOW™ as an acronym - a word to remember, to help you determine the steps to take to reach the goals you set for yourselves.

F – is for Forecast. Just like everything you do to insure success, you must write it down, once your words are in print, you can hold yourself accountable. Draft an action plan. The action plan must be specific, measurable, achievable and timely. You need to give yourself a roadmap where you can measure your progress as you move forward. Forecasting your goals and measuring the results is one of the best ways to guarantee that you will achieve and exceed your own expectations.

L – is for Launch. No matter how strong your determination, how much you want to succeed, if you don't actually plan to act on your forecast and hold yourself accountable, you will not achieve the goals you set for yourself. Planning to launch your networking strategy in an efficient and timely way will guarantee your success. Do your homework, identify the organizations and associations that will benefit from knowing you and your contacts. Remember, networking is a two way street, you must make sure that you give as much as you get.

O - is for Organize. To be an effective and productive individual who uses networking as an integral part of your business plan, you must be organized. Your contacts should be in a database that is easy to use. One that can provide you with current and updated information on each person and organization you need to know. Activity is important to record, if your information is stagnant, it is not only a great waste of effort, it has no relevant value. Timely and regular communication is imperative. You need to keep your network updated and communicate with them on a regular basis.

W - is for Win. You want to manage the FLOW of information, to be able to forecast where you want to go, to launch in a timely fashion a networking game plan that is organized and action orientated. You want to win. To guarantee that you will continue win at the networking game, means that you must constantly update your information, continue to build rapport and offer solutions whenever you can. All of your networking is done in an ethical way, recognizing the importance of your integrity – never abusing your contacts or resources.

FLOW is proprietary and is delivered by certified ConnectUs Counselors. The RISE and FLOW programs are delivered through many campus career centres across Canada or individually by contacting ConnectUs at 905-337-9578.


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