By Tim Hayes []

Ivan Vaughn stood out.

He wore his dark hair piled high on top and close on the sides.  He showed up for school once having painted his sensible black shoes a bright canary yellow.  Covering the windows of his bedroom, in the home he and his mother lived in next to the Salvation Army, were the letters of his name painted three feet high.  Ivan was always smiling, but you were never quite comfortable about what made him so happy.

And he had the same birthday as his friend, Paul, which was one of the reasons they became friends in the first place.

Ivan ran in a number of social circles, whereas Paul lived a more sedate and predictable existence.  That’s why Paul became one of Ivan’s projects.  He had to crack that shell and get Paul out more, seeing more, living more. So one day, Ivan asked Paul if he wanted to come with him to a party where there’d be lots of girls and local bands playing live music. 

Paul agreed, and the world changed literally in one afternoon.  And not just for Paul, but for, quite literally, the world.

Because one of the bands playing that day took its name from the Quarry Bank grammar school its members had attended as children.  The Quarrymen were fronted by a local punk – one of the neighborhood tough guys Paul consciously avoided, in fact – by the name of John.  Yeah, Paul McCartney and John Lennon.

The two connected immediately and the rest is history.  And from that day on, everyone at long last knew why Ivan Vaughn was always smiling.

Networking drives business growth.  Everybody knows that.  But not everybody appreciates the elements of effective networking.  And I am at the head of that fumbling, stumbling, bumbling class of floundering networkers.

Yet look at the legend of Ivan Vaughn.  Ivan knew Paul in one context, and John in another.  His social circles were diverse enough to touch on both McCartney, the cautious left-handed homebody bass player, and Lennon, the wild and angry roaming teenager looking to form a great rock-and-roll band.  Without realizing it, both Paul and John enabled Ivan to do their networking for them, which may be the best networking of all.

Perhaps you have the same problem as me.  I’ve always thought of networking as a most uncomfortable proposition.  The idea of walking into a room filled with a hundred strangers armed only with a pocket stuffed with business cards is terrifying.  The assumption may be that the fields are ripe for the harvest, but that somehow I left all my seeds back in the bunkhouse.  So you awkwardly cruise the room, holding your watered-down tumbler of ginger ale, making uncomfortable small talk after you’ve somehow pierced the circle of potential targets already in full conversational flight.

That type of networking ain’t no fun, and rarely turns into business, I’ve found.  But I’m learning new ways of going about building networks that make a lot more sense and that have a much higher potential to build business.  By giving more you get more – that’s the premise and the promise, and it makes sense to me.

Ivan knew it, and the world’s a better place for it.

Copyright 2010 Transverse Park Productions LLC