Earlier this week I was invited by my friend Jennifer Niehouse, owner of It’s So U! wardrobe consulting, to attend a networking event sponsored by the KC Women’s Network. At first, I was skeptical about attending any event with the word “networking” in it. I’m just as skeptical about attending “singles” events, but that’s another blog.

The presenter, Greg Furstner of Salezworks, discussed tips and techniques for productive networking. When he was finished speaking, I had to ask him, “Isn’t networking really just using people?”

I have been in situations where it’s obvious a person is only interested in talking to those in the room who can do him some good, or help him accomplish his own agenda. I’ve also seen and heard friends of mine who are work-from-home moms feel dismissed by people when they don’t have a “business” to discuss. That can be a huge mistake, from my perspective.

Greg Furstner clarified for me the difference between effective networking and just using people in a calculating way. As one strategy to getting to know a potential referral source or point of contact for networking, Greg suggests asking questions, which really just shows your interest in the other person. For example, asking a person, “What significant changes have you seen take place in your profession through the years?” would probably not make anyone feel used.