Even Introverts Can Excel at Networking by Following These Steps

By: Marguerita M. Cheng

The three C's of networking -- Conversation, Connection and Collaboration -- create a context that helps even those most reticent about networking.

Networking builds businesses. It brings in clients and partners and helps businesses grow, but networking can be intimidating and seem overwhelming. I understand that because I'm an introvert. Fortunately, that hasn't prevented me from creating my own network. You don't have to be an extrovert to use social sites, attend networking events or pursue professional opportunities to connect with others. Introverts don't have to be shy.

Debunking networking myths

Networking has a bad rap. People are hindered by awkward networking moments, misconceptions about networking and its benefits, as well as their own self-protective barriers. Here are five networking myths that need to be debunked before you can rewrite your own networking narrative:

1. Networking has not been effective. It's easy to dismiss its benefits when you don't see immediate results from networking. People become discouraged when they don't make any "useful" contacts at an event. What they don't understand is that one meaningful connection can translate into a valuable contact. There might be many people at an event, but the right connection, even if it's not the connection you had anticipated, might prevent you from making a wrong decision or help you accomplish a task that you couldn't have achieved otherwise. Networking might not appear how you expect, but that doesn't mean it's not effective.

2. Networking is only for salespeople. Early in my career, I noticed that people didn't like salespeople. Most everyone has a natural disdain for cold pitches and direct sales. As an introvert, I realized the value expanding my network. Years later, I understand that cold pitches and direct pitches do not constitute networking. You can make connections and conversations without selling anything.

3. Networking wastes time. Networking takes time. That doesn't mean it wastes it. It's an investment of time, and like any investment, it produces over time. Be wise and focused about how you allocate your networking resources, both time and money. Attend events where you're most likely to make the connections that will help your business. If you're a chef, choose events that focus on cooking. If you're a techie, concentrate on forums relevant to your niche. Think about the kind of connections you'd like to make and be strategic about finding the networking opportunities that will provide the most value for your time.

4. I cannot be a good networker. This is where most introverts bog themselves down. Networking doesn't feel natural. We shield ourselves from socially awkward situations by creating a protective barrier of dismissal. If networking is just "not your thing," you can justify retreating into your cocoon by dismissing it as over-rated and irrelevant. The problem is that networking is neither over-rated or irrelevant. Not even for introverts.

5. Networking is a dirty business. Some people associate networking with schmoozing and moving up the political or corporate ladder. They prefer to take the moral high ground and avoid networking for professional gain. In Networking Is a Dirty Business, Maryam Kouchaki, assistant professor of management and organization at Kellogg School of Management, uses research to show how people who associate networking with greed and selfish ambition tend to see it as a moral contaminate. They avoid it like the plague. The truth is that networking isn't schmoozing. Good business is reciprocal, and networking facilitates good business.

The "three C's" that change the networking narrative

The three C's of networking -- Conversation, Connection and Collaboration -- create a context that helps even those most reticent about networking move past these myths and into networking relationships that open opportunities and grow their business.


Be ready to engage. Look professional, dress appropriately for the event and relax. You are not schmoozing. Smile and be approachable. A friendly, confident demeanor is attractive. Non-verbal communication is a pre-cursor to verbal communication so make sure you're not sitting in a dark corner or hiding behind your drink with your shoulders humped into your phone. Eye contact, a smile and a firm but warm handshake are all strong non-verbal cues that invite conversation.

Initiate dialogue with simple, non-personal questions like "who catered the event?" to open the conversation space. Be open, show interest in those you're talking to and offer genuine compliments. Have your 30-second elevator speech ready but deliver it naturally and conversationally. You want to provide compelling information about what you do and be prepared to answer questions, but you also want to listen and engage in a way that facilitates establishing a real human connection.


Networking events aren't card collecting events. The goal is making personal connections. Developing one quality personal connection trumps collecting a short stack of business cards. In his book Power Relationships: 26 Irrefutable Laws for Building Extraordinary Relationships, Andrew Sobel explains how quality connections always win over quantity. A good connection can translate into a good contact. It pays to be selective. Figure out what connections are most relevant to your passions and talents. Develop a list of a "significant few" professional contacts and nurture those relationships by contacting them regularly. Create a secondary list of those you might contact in the future. Then, add all of your connections to your social network and look for ways to engage them on an ongoing basis.

Make emotional connections. Ask questions that invoke thought. Mark Zuckerberg states that you should learn to start where you are. Whether imagined or real, believe that people like you and the world is ready to receive you. Part of making connections is helping people. When you meet people, pay attention to what they say to see if they have a problem you can help solve. Always be generous and willing to help.


Collaboration is a human dynamic that even introverts can take part in. Networking is collaborative. People need your help, and you need theirs. Don't be afraid to offer that help or shy about asking for a favor. You can help people, and they can help you. Leave your comfort zone. Be willing to mix and listen, and to introduce yourself and ask questions. Relationships and careers are built through collaboration.

Collaboration means working with people and organizations. Concentrate on building a network that adds value to your organization and enables you to improve and grow your reputation. Establish networks both with individuals and organizations, so you can maintain a connection with an organization even after individual connections leave a company. Collaboration expands your personal network.

Networking is human, and introvert or extrovert, we're all human. It allows us to help each other, work together and grow along the way by conversing and connecting and collaborating. An old African proverb says it best: "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others." Networking helps us get where we need to go… together.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.


Marguerita M. Cheng is the Chief Executive Officer at Blue Ocean Global Wealth. Prior to co-founding Blue Ocean Global Wealth, she was a Financial Advisor at Ameriprise Financial and an Analyst and Editor at Towa Securities in Tokyo, Japan. She is a CFP® professional, a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor℠, a Retirement Income Certified Professional® and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst.


Marguerita M. Cheng

Marguerita M. Cheng is the Chief Executive Officer at Blue Ocean Global Wealth. Prior to co-founding Blue Ocean Global Wealth, she was a Financial Advisor at Ameriprise Financial and an Analyst and Editor at Towa Securities in Tokyo, Japan. Marguerita is a past spokesperson for the AARP Financial Freedom Campaign and a regular columnist for Investopedia & Kiplinger. She is a CFP® professional, a Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM, a Retirement Income Certified Professional® and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. As a Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board) Ambassador, Marguerita helps educate the public, policy makers, and media about the benefits of competent, ethical financial planning. She serves as a Women’s Initiative (WIN) Advocate and subject matter expert for CFP Board, contributing to the development of examination questions for the CFP® Certification Examination. Marguerita also volunteers for CFP Board Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (DEC) hearings. She served on the Financial Planning Association (FPA) National Board of Directors from 2013 – 2015 and is a past president of the Financial Planning Association of the National Capital Area (FPA NCA) 

Rita is a recipient of the Ameriprise Financial Presidential Award for Quality of Advice and the prestigious Japanese Monbukagakusho Scholarship. In 2017, she was named the #3 Most Influential Financial Advisor in the Investopedia Top 100, a Woman to Watch by InvestmentNews, and a Top 100 Minority Business Enterprise (MBE®) by the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council (CRMSDC).

Marguerita’s mantra is “So many people spend their health to gain wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health” (A.J. Reb Materi).

5 Tips for Educating Kids About Money

By: Allison Pearson

Talking about money is difficult for most of us. Sometimes, talking about money to a family member is even more difficult.

Growing up, I was fortunate to have parents who prioritized my financial education from an early age. When I was a teenager, my grandmother gave me a small sum of money to do with as I pleased. After some gentle guidance from my dad, I decided to invest the money. My dad set up a meeting between me and his stock broker so I could learn and decide how I wanted to invest. At the end of the day, I ended up losing all the money. Ultimately, this early lesson was more valuable than the money itself. I learned firsthand about the importance of making thoughtful investment decisions, and about how quickly and easily money can be lost.

When I started my first post-collegiate job, my company offered employees a government bond program, with bonds that matured after 20 years. As a young investor with an instant gratification mindset, I could have easily brushed the whole idea aside as pointless. My parents, however, urged me to participate. I took their advice and just now cashed those bonds out to help pay my son's college tuition.

As my son begins college, I have worked to follow in my parents' footsteps by educating my son on finances. This effort hasn't come without challenges. I suspect I'm not alone. In fact, I imagine that a lot of parents feel uncertain about how to talk to their kids about money. So, to support you in this process, I'd like to share five tips for educating kids about money.


When I was in elementary school, students were all encouraged to contribute small amounts – nickels and dimes – to a savings account. As students, we then were encouraged to check our saving progress. Though this activity wasn't a requirement, it was extremely valuable and financially accessible to nearly everyone.

I brought this same approach to bear in educating my son. I started with similar small, low-pressure lessons. For example, I encouraged him to count the coins in our spare change jar so he could see how every penny adds up over time.

Establish a foundation of financial literacy from a young age. Concepts of earning, saving, spending, investing and donating will eventually shape how your child views the world.

“Establish a foundation of financial literacy from a young age. Concepts of earning, saving, spending, investing and donating will eventually shape how your child views the world. ”


My dad made it a point for me to speak directly with a stock broker instead of doing it for me. When I opened my son's first savings account, he came to the bank with me and talked to the banker himself. From then on, whenever he had money to add to the account, we would go to the bank together to deposit the money. This helped familiarize him with the bank and started to give him a sense of where his money went.

Your child's first paid job is another ideal opportunity to teach the importance of saving. When my son was six, we would go out to the golf course behind our house and collect golf balls that he would clean and sell. When he was nine, my son started to earn money by mowing lawns in the neighborhood. At that point, we established a rule that at least half of the money had to go into his savings account for college. When a kid gets their first paid job, the novelty of having one's own money can make it tempting to spend it all at once. If you as a parent can instill a saving mentality early on, you're more likely to teach your child to be a saver, or at least a financially responsible adult.

“Your child's first paid job is another ideal opportunity to teach the importance of saving.”


Though you probably wouldn't explain the inner-workings of a college savings fund to an 8-year-old, it's a good idea to help young children understand that a college education is not only valuable, but also costs money. If relatives contribute to your child's college savings account, be sure to explain the importance of those gifts and how they positively impact the future expense of college.

Though I am proud of teaching my son about college savings, reflecting back, I should also have shared the quarterly statements of his college 529 plan. By not engaging him in reviewing those statements, I missed an opportunity to help him understand how money performs when it's invested. You may want to consider sharing this type of information with your kids.


Be honest about your family's financial situation. Though these conversations can be difficult, they also help children understand what to expect in terms of household spending, and how those spending choices impact them.

For example, when you openly discussing a job loss or pay cut with your child and explain its impact on the family's near-term spending, you can teach your children about coping with unexpected income changes. Conversely, if your financial situation unexpectedly improves, you can discuss how to responsibly manage positive change to ensure it has a long-term impact.

“Be honest about your family's financial situation. Though these conversations can be difficult, they also help children understand what to expect in terms of household spending, and how those spending choices impact them.”


Learning about debt is equally as important as learning about saving. When I accompanied my son to open his first checking account, the bank also recommended he open a credit card to start establishing a credit history. Though I was nervous about this idea at first, I decided to allow my son to give it a try. Thanks to my son's frugal nature, his $500-limit card has yet to be used even mid-way through his sophomore year at college.

Be sure to also observe and monitor your child's spending and saving habits. Understanding their habits will help you decide how much guidance or control to offer with regards to finances.

“Be sure to observe and monitor your child's spending and saving habits. Understanding their habits will help you decide how much guidance or control to offer with regards to finances.”

Before your kids go to college, talk to them about the possibility of student loan debt, too. Student loans have quadrupled since 2004, becoming a more significant burden for millions of people.1 In my case, even though I planned to save enough to cover my son's tuition, he chose a more expensive school than I'd anticipated. For our family, that means he'll be on the hook to cover some of the cost himself.

Encourage your children to explore opportunities to lower the expense of college, whether through scholarships, financial aid, or reduced housing, meal plan or text book costs. You may want to draw up a detailed college budget with your child and use that opportunity to reinforce the importance of lifelong budgeting skills.

My son embarking upon college has been a major turning point in my efforts to educate him about finances. These financial education conversations can be intimidating for parents and kids alike. Nevertheless, I feel good about helping my son lay a foundation for a healthy financial future.

Every family is different. The tips I've offered may not fit your specific situation. Furthermore, conversations about finances are highly personal. At minimum, keep the conversations going. Regular open dialogue can go a long way toward building a healthy mindset around finances and beyond.

This article originally appeared on https://www.jacksoncharitablefoundation.org/for-grown-ups/articles/5-tips-for-educating-kids-about-money.xhtml

Allison Pearson.jpg

Allison Pearson currently serves as Vice President of the National Sales Desk for Jackson National Life Distributors LLC (JNLD). She is responsible for the Career Development Program, coordinating recruiting efforts and training and supporting the Sales Desk management team in strategic initiatives. Allison joined Jackson in 2002 as Director of Recruiting with Human Resources.

Five Strategies for Befriending Uncertainty

By: Laura Berger

Every rung I climbed on the corporate ladder was giving my ego the success it so craved. But there was one glaring problem: I wasn’t truly fulfilled. Compelled to reevaluate my life and career, I asked myself the all-important question: What truly matters?

What followed was unthinkable for someone in my career stage, I dropped my profession, packed my bags and moved to Costa Rica with my husband.

There was so much uncertainty surrounding this very unconventional move, but instead of letting our doubts run the show, we decided to roll with them. In under a year, the identities we held on to for eons evolved with each new, greater challenge we faced.

I soon realized that the situations I feared the most led to a heightened sense of accomplishment once overcome. I actually started to crave uncertainty.

It turns out that our brains are hardwired to avoid uncertainty. It is what scientists refer to as information-seeking behavior. This phenomenon may explain why we find change generally unpleasant.

Contrary to what your brain signals, my experience has taught me that uncertainty is not the enemy. Rather, these unsure occasions are opportunities that can help you grow when you shift your mindset.

How many decisions do you make on a weekly basis without knowing exactly what the outcome will be? Probably more than you can count. Though most of these decisions are minor, their existence underscores the big picture: Uncertainty is a certainty.

The next time you face uncertainty, use these strategies to turn that situation to your advantage:

1. View uncertainty as if it is always working in your favor. The moment you start trusting that uncertainty is here to strengthen your grit, intelligence and success, you can start freeing yourself from false constraints. This new perspective will enable you to accept the present moment and roll with it. In turn, you will acquire new skills, a newfound confidence and a greater sense of achievement.

2. Observe your thoughts and emotions. Thought patterns are conditioned by past experience, and by the environments in which we were raised. In essence, our thoughts are shaped by the past. By acknowledging them without judgment, rather than immediately reacting to them, you’ll have the clarity to do what is in your best interest.

3. Write down any negative thought patterns. Write down any situations that trigger undesirable behavior, be it procrastinating, getting angry with colleagues or giving up on big goals. By journaling how you react to uncertainty, you can effectively detach yourself from these harmful patterns, giving you the space and confidence to prepare for whatever life throws at you.

4. Get practical. The next time you catch your brain obsessing over uncertainty, Jordan Harbinger, of the wildly popular podcast, The Art of Charm, says to ask yourself the following questions: Can I get this information? Do I need to know this information right now? This rationale will end up saving you the energy you would have spent stressing over something likely out of your control.

5. Commit yourself to the next phase. Many of my clients will reach pinnacles in their careers and then feel it is time for something different. For them, it isn’t time to retire — it’s time to rewire. Navigating a new chapter can make you feel like a fish out of water, but when you fully immerse yourself in your next phase, the new will feel like normal in a flash. Imagine how freeing change will feel once you accept it as if you had chosen it. Though I would highly
recommend a jungle experience, it doesn’t take one to untap your true potential in the face of

This article originally appeared on www.forbes.com


Featured on ABC News, CNBC, Yahoo Finance, Redbook, Self, and the Miami Herald, Laura Berger is a certified executive coach and co-founder of the Berdeo Group. Her clients include leaders at JP Morgan Chase, The Walt Disney World Company, Financial Solutions Advisory Group, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. She is the co-author of two books: Fall in Love Again Every Day and Radical Sabbatical.


Laura Berger

Featured on ABC News, in CNBC, Yahoo Finance, and in Redbook, Self, and the Miami Herald, Laura Berger is a certified executive coach and co-founder of the Berdéo Group. She has counseled leaders for 15 years, maximizing their potential in the areas of Evidence based leadership, global operations management, and strategic change management. Her clients include leaders at JP Morgan Chase, Leo Burnett Worldwide, American Hospital Association, Starcom MediaVest Group, The Walt Disney World Company, Financial Solutions Advisory Group, World Business Chicago, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. She is an in-demand speaker and co-author of two books: Fall in Love Again Every Day and Radical Sabbatical: Could You Say Goodbye to Everything You Know to Get Everything You Want?.

Using Social Media to Advance Your Career - and Your Company

By: Raleigh Mayer

The numbers speak for themselves.

LinkedIn is host to 107 million U.S. users and 332 million worldwide.Twitter boasts 232 million active users, and Facebook enjoys a whopping 1.35 billion postings.

"Positioning and promoting oneself in cyberspace can be complicated, and electronic engagement should be treated like any other business interaction, as communication is currency."

In just one year alone, online activity has doubled, from 21.5 to 41.9 billion "actions" online. In the financial industry, LinkedIn had more than 2 million members as of 2013, with two people signing up for a LinkedIn account every second.

Identity tools from business cards to email signatures now routinely include URLs for LinkedIn profiles, as well as links to Twitter accounts and Facebook pages. Individuals and organizations with minimal—or absent—electronic footprints are not only less visible but often less respected, as online visibility is no longer optional.

Whether you are building a career or a company, if you're not online, you don't exist.

"Relationships, brands and even businesses can be built by using social media," said Jennifer Openshaw, executive director of the Financial Women's Association (FWA). "It's a megaphone for extending your current content and communications more broadly and making powerful connections in seconds."

How can you leverage this new medium for you and your company?

Job searching

The world has turned upside down. Would you believe a whopping 94 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to vet candidates? HR leaders are now bypassing headhunters and opting for the ability to find their best candidates using smart search capabilities.

That's why those seeking new careers or positions should pay careful attention to the quality and currency of their LinkedIn profiles.

Executive search expert Stacy Musi of Chadick Ellig, a New York-based recruiting firm, said, "Every executive should have a current and descriptive LinkedIn profile that clearly articulates their personal brand and highlights their areas of greatest expertise."

But that doesn't mean you should ignore face-to-face and phone connections.

"Many searches are still filled the old-fashioned way: through real-time networking," Musi pointed out.

Alexandra Tyler, vice president of integrated campaign management for a leading financial services firm, pointed out that "keywords in your online profile enable you to be found easily in search engines by top recruiters. So be purposeful in crafting your online summary and profile to get to the top of search-engine pages."

Building a human brand

One of the failures of corporate branding is forgetting to humanize. Most marketers place ads or push out a message, when it's those companies who create a connection that can take a brand to another level.

That's why Linda Descano, managing director and global head of content and social at Citi, believes "it's key to put a human face on big corporations. This can be done through tweeting, posting, writing and then gauging the success of these initiatives."

She adds, "This is also true for individuals. You must always manage and maintain a digital brand, as this enables you to be known for what you want and simultaneously helps you to better protect your specific brand."

And that branding needs to be consistent. While Openshaw notes very different purposes and audiences between, say, LinkedIn and Facebook or Twitter and Instagram, keep in mind what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg once said: "You have one identity. The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly. Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity."

Openshaw, the author of "The Socially Savvy Advisor," points to the "convergence" of all media.

"The idea that there are clear lines between personal and professional identity has always been a myth," said Kristin Johnson, senior advisor at Logos Consulting Group. "Social media hasn't changed that, but it has cast a brighter spotlight on the interconnectedness of our personal and professional relationships, therefore putting greater responsibility on people to consider how perceptions from online identities feed into relational outcomes—both personal and professional—in the 'real,' offline world."

The 4 C’s of social communications

Indeed, positioning and promoting oneself in cyberspace can be complicated, and electronic engagement should be treated like any other business interaction, as communication is currency.

Whatever social media platforms you choose to use, be sure to keep these four C's in mind:

Be current: Keep all information, including head shots, up to date.

Be consistent: With your language, tone and profile photos (to be recognizable on each platform).

Be compelling: Every posting should be as clear, concise and clever as possible.

Be critical: Don't accept just anyone into your network; vet them appropriately.

And finally, regarding the company you keep, follow the words of wisdom of Citi's Linda Descano:

"Accepting someone via your own social media channels is an endorsement of that individual. You must ensure they're people of stature with high character who reflect your personal values. Stay true to yourself and conduct yourself online as you would offline at all times."

This article originally appeared on www.cnbc.com


Known as the "Gravitas Guru", Mayer is currently a senior fellow at the Logos Institute for Crisis Management and executive leadership, a leadership lecturer at New York University and Barnard College, and on the leadership council of the Financial Women's Association. 


Raleigh Mayer

Raleigh Mayer, known as the “Gravitas Guru”, is an executive development consultant, coach, and speaker, specializing in presentation, communication, and leadership, including programs designed specifically for the career acceleration of female executives. Formerly a vice president and spokesperson for the New York City Marathon, Raleigh has coached and trained executive clients for more than a decade and serves a wide variety of Fortune 500 companies.  She is currently a senior fellow at the Logos Institute for Crisis Management and Executive Leadership, a leadership lecturer at New York University and Barnard College, and on the leadership council of the Financial Women’s Association.

10 Secrets to Masterful Business Networking

by Alison BW Pena

1) Ask your best clients, colleagues and friends the most effective place(s) they network for business. Allow them to introduce you into their community. That simple action already increases your Know, Like and Trust factor.

2) Pay to network. That said, most paid networking groups allow prospective members to attend 1-2 meetings FREE before they decide or have a non-member price for events. Check them out before you commit.

3) Do your Google research on the group and event. Then go forth and network.

  • Meetup.com, eventbrite.com, BNI, Chambers of Commerce, search online for your audience (i.e., business networking, women’s networking...)

  • Who is on the membership roster? Would you like to know them?

  • What is the topic of the activity and does it sound fun or interesting?

  • When do events happen – mornings, 9-5 pm M-F or weekends? Ideally, you want networking to be at a time when you are at your best.

  • Does your target audience go to these events?

  • Do professionals who serve your target market attend the network?

4) Schedule 1-2 networking events each week and go. Networking is a muscle that atrophies when it is not flexed. You don’t have to be perfect. You can’t say the wrong thing to the right person or the right thing to the wrong person.

5) With each conversation, you hone your capacity to open and deepen your connections with people. You get clearer about what aspects of your work are most important to them. That shapes what you say next to them or a person like them. That can guide your marketing copy.

6) A person is not only their profession or business. Asking about family, hobbies, restaurant or travel recommendations is not a technique. The more common touches you have with the person you are talking to, the more likely they are to become a client or refer you to one, partnership or friend.

7) Don’t try to meet everyone in the room. I aim to truly connect with 3 people at every event. Anything more is a bonus. If you notice there are more than 3 people you are eager to get to know, that is a group you might consider joining.

8) Get to know the connectors (especially if you are an introvert). You will notice people who easily make organic connections for themselves and others. They exist is EVERY group and are what I call circles of influence. Their ripple effect is HUGE!

9) If you go to a networking group or event, connect with 3 promising-looking people and that network does not resonate with you, it’s OK to leave.

10) Your time is valuable. Think of networking as a kind of play or dance. What’s the next move? Network consistently and you will find YOUR best practices for connecting as you discover people and networks you truly enjoy. Have fun!

Affluence is not a mindset. It’s not a destination. It’s not a fixed dollar amount. And it’s certainly not just for rich people. In fact, affluence is more like a secret code. Which means that whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever the numbers in your bank account, you have options. You can choose lack, scarcity, and “not enough.” Or you can choose affluence.

Alison believes that true affluence is having the time, money, freedom and aliveness you desire. She helps entrepreneurs, business owners, professionals shift into bounty, wealth, purpose and new possibility.