Ask a Boomer: How to be authentic when networking

Charlotte’s surge in population over the past few years means lots of folks are starting anew every day.

Plugging into a new community can be tough when you’re not connected. Searching for everything from a dentist to a dry cleaner can be exhausting. And if your job brought you here, navigating the ways of your new employer, while exciting, can be frustrating without some guidance.

Developing a trusted network is the way to go – but how?

Jamie B. asks the Boomer: “What has been your most successful way of networking within a new city/company/and/or industry?”

I turned to some of Charlotte’s best connected for help with this one:

Sarah Crosland, executive editor of magazines, the Charlotte Observer:

“I prefer to think of my method as less ‘networking’ and more ‘making friends.’ Be authentically curious, show interest and kindness, rather than have a ‘what can they do for me’ mindset. Don’t go to networking events to push your agenda. The person who is willing to have a genuine conversation rather than working the room will ultimately be the one who stays in your mind.”

Armah Shiancoe, marketing manager, AIS Advanced Imaging Systems:

“Always be authentic and focus on how you can be of value. This helps to build a deeper level of trust. If that’s done in an unselfish manner, the people you help will usually seek opportunities to be of help to you.”

Chris McLeod, president, Giving Matters:

“Be sure to let your network and the people you have spent time with you know when you land a job. Make sure you express your appreciation for their support. Less than 10 percent of the people I meet with do this….and they miss the opportunity to build a strong network for the long term if you don’t let them know.”

Candice Langston, principal, Solid:

“When requesting someone’s time, know that time is money.

Offer to come to them, tell them specifically what you want. Take on the onus of suggesting some dates, and PICK UP THE CHECK. Send a hand-written thank you.”

Blair Primis, vice president, marketing, OrthoCarolina:

“I’m a believer in continuing the conversation. Have a second meeting over coffee or a beer so you can get to know them and what they stand for or what their cause is in a more in-depth way. Offer to help them in some capacity. Two-way partnerships are a key.”

Holly Bretschneider, founder, chief inspiration officer, Blue Sky Business Academy:

“Forget about networking and focus on connecting. Look for events that interest you. Set an intention before you walk in that you will connect with at least one new person. Strike a real, authentic conversation that feels natural to you. Ask questions like what excites them the most about their business, and non-business questions like what they enjoy doing when they’re not working. And really listen to what they say.”

There’s clearly a trend here – Authenticity and a focus on others, not yourself, is how relationships develop in the most natural way.

It took me ‘til age 50 (several years ago) to fully experience one of the greatest lessons in my life – It’s all about them, not me. Adopting this mindset has made a world of difference.


Have a question for our Boomer? Email it to with the subject line “Ask a Boomer.”

Photo: CharlotteFive