Are you playing with a full Deck?

By  Donna Messer




Deck of cards

Think about a deck of cards when it comes to networking. Using the analogy of a full deck it is easy to recognize that there are plenty of ways to win. Effective networking is much easier when you play by a recognized set of rules.

Imagine you have a full deck of cards in your pocket and you have the opportunity to play one card with everyone you meet. You want to maximize the meeting, so you want to find a card that has some relevance to the other person.

You meet someone with a Queen of Clubs, and you quickly pull a card out of your deck – it’s another Club – you have something in common and you are on you way to a flush. Your card is a ten of clubs……  might even be moving towards a Straight Flush, or if you play your cards  correctly you might even end up with a Royal Flush.. 

Networking is simply about making profitable connections where there is always a benefit to both parties, and to be a winning hand it should include more than just two people.

Using the playing card scenario, it makes sense for you to try and find other people with something in common with your current card. If it’s another Club, you are on your way to a winning hand, if it’s another 10, you can still win.

What happens when the next person you meet is a Queen of Spades – do you recognize that not only do you have something in common – you are both Black, but you can introduce that person to someone you just met who has a Queen of Clubs. This card may not fit into your winning hand, but it’s definitely a good connection. Once you have found your common ground, you make the introduction to the first person you met who had the Queen of Clubs. You have just helped someone win at this game called Networking! They have one pair and could go for a Full House.

You can then ask that the new connection remember you are a Ten of Clubs and are hoping to find other cards with something in common. You haven’t lost out with either introduction, both can be part of a winning hand as you move forward in the Networking Game.

One of the most important rules of any game is that you have to use a little strategy. You don’t just show up, and expect to win. You need to think about the kind of cards you have to play, and what you really want to accomplish at the event. If you are satisfied with a pair – you don’t have to work very hard to find someone just like you. If on the other hand you want to expand your horizons, you might want to go for someone in the same suit, or in sequence.

Wherever I go, I never go without a full deck, making sure that everyone I meet adds value to my hand and to the hands of those in my network.

Remember to play your networking card, wherever you are. People like people who are like themselves, they buy from them, sell to them and refer them – by playing with a full deck, you’re never at a loss when it comes to having a winning hand.

Whenever I speak to a large group, the first thing I do is give everyone a playing card and ask them to find something in common with the card I hold up.  Often times it’s difficult, because they don’t see the infinite possibilities with the card they hold in their hand.

Let’s be hypothetical – I’m holding an Ace of Hearts – the first person in the audience has another Ace – it’s easy to see the fit. The next person has a 6 of Diamonds – again not too difficult, we are both Red, The third person is a King of Clubs – okay the cards are in sequence. The next person has a 3 of Hearts and we again can see we are the same suit. All of a sudden we have a 9 of Clubs and there is no common denominator that we can find – we stretch ourselves and we turn the card over and we have our match!  There on the back of the card is a Canadian Flag! 

Are you playing the networking game with a full deck? Are you bringing with you all the people you know who might be part of a winning hand for someone you meet?

Networking is not just for you to win – it is for everyone in your network that might just be part of a possible Royal Flush! 

As a networking expert, I know the value of playing my cards in sequence. I also know that sometimes I have to play off, in order to stay in the game. Winning often isn’t about the cards I hold in my hand, rather how they fit with the cards others hold.

Don’t break the rules, learn to adapt, adjust and form alliances – often a winning hand comes from people you’ve yet to meet. And unless you show your cards to everyone you know – how can they help you win?

Donna Messer is a speaker, author and journalist. She is a Master at the “Game of Networking”. She plays her cards well, and most often everyone wins! To learn to play the game go to


Royal Flush
Five card sequence from 10 to the Ace in the same suit
Straight Flush
Any five card sequence in the same suit.
Four of a Kind: All four cards of the same index
Full House
Three of a kind combined with a pair                                                               
Any five cards of the same suit, but not in sequence.
Five cards in sequence, but not in the same suit.
Three of a Kind
Three cards of the same value.
Two Pair
Two separate pairs .
One pair of two equal value cards constitutes a pair.
High Card
If no one has any of the above winning hands, the tie is determined by the highest value card in the hand.

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