Insights from Dana
Networking Unleashed: How to Create Connections That Raze Barriers and Blaze Trails


Whether you love networking or love to hate networking, it’s an essential skill in every business leader’s toolbox.

Networking plays a critical role in business growth and development that can knock down doors and blaze trails if you show up with intention. Because every time you connect with a new peer or potential client, you create new possibilities and unlock new opportunities.

It’s also a skill that, like so many aspects of building a business, most of us were never taught. We have to figure it out on our own.

That’s where I have the advantage. Not only am I a business strategist and coach who has spent almost four decades building businesses and mentoring industry leaders, but I’m also a people person and international speaker who has spent a lifetime living, traveling, and talking to folks around the world.

I love networking. I love meeting new people, and over the years, I have developed a four-step approach to ensure my clients and I get the most out of our adventures in networking.


Curate the Possibilities

The first thing you need to do is decide where and when you want to invest in networking.

 I call it an investment because it is, and that lens often helps my clients see networking in a different light. Instead of something they “should” be doing, it becomes an opportunity to pursue something meaningful on their own terms.  

You might be an introvert who attends far fewer events than your more outgoing peers and colleagues – and that’s fine. Setting boundaries and expectations that are meaningful, impactful, and sustainable is an essential part of healthy growth and development for humans and businesses alike. 

And it’s an essential aspect of getting the desired ROI on your networking efforts.

Here are a few of the questions I ask my Catapult coaching clients to help them get intentional about opening up to new opportunities – and which ones are worthwhile.

What are you trying to accomplish by attending this event?

Not all events are created equal. Try to be unbiased – just because you went in the past doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for you today. Every event costs time and energy, but tickets to conferences, conventions, and trade shows can also require a significant financial investment.

Your time, energy, and money are precious resources. Do your due diligence so you can make informed and intentional investments. 

If your goal is to do business, are your ideal clients going to be there? 

What about potential power partners? 

If not, where are they? 

Because that’s where you need to be.


Get Intentional About Outcomes

Now that you know where you want to go, get specific about what you want to accomplish.

Who do you want to meet?

Is there a specific person/people you want to create a relationship with?

Do you want to leave with a new client?

Or simply start the conversation for new business?

Are you looking for a “partner in crime” kind of collaboration or someone you can cross-market with?

Do you have room to grow, and you‘re looking for talented employees to join your team?

Or perhaps you’re in the market for potential contractors?

Write out your intention for the event (at least one, no more than three) and bring it with you as a touchstone. Intentions led you to your event. They’ll help ensure your success when you get there too.

Attending a multi-day event? 

Keep yourself organized and make follow-up a breeze by putting all the business cards you collect into a bag at the end of each day to help you remember when you met the person. Jot down a few notes about what you discussed or why you took their card.

This technique also comes in handy for frequent fliers or if you attend an event, or events, as part of a longer trip.


Go With Something to Give

Wherever you go, whatever your intentions are, remember the rule of reciprocity.

If you want to get, you’ve got to give. Once you’ve set your intentions, ask yourself:

What are you going to share?

What are you bringing to the space?

What is your contribution?

One of my clients puts the instant access link to one of her classes on all her business cards. Every time she makes a new connection, she gives them her card, and a free class.

What can you do or share to offer value?


Stick the Finish

Once you make it to the end of the event, you’re done, right? 


At the end of each event, make a list of what you want to take away from the experience, what you learned, and who you want to connect with.

Even when I’m ready to call it a night, I always email or text each person I talked to during the day to follow up and say how much I enjoyed meeting them. This helps me stand out from the crowd in the midst of after-event exhaustion and the busyness of life.

More than that, I do it because networking isn’t about making small talk and faking smiles while you swap business cards. It’s about creating meaningful connections, fostering genuine relationships, and cultivating new possibilities.

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