Back in 2003, I attended a pivotal event at the Vancouver Enterprise Forum. Normally, these events generally follow a predictable pattern. People fill in the room, buy a drink and wander aimlessly. The venture capitalists avoid the nervous entrepreneurs with the bad pitches and the keen students stand nervously in the corner, not sure who to talk to. Old friends meet up and chat and newcomers do their best to try to look as comfortable as the old-timers.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This is not a comment on the Vancouver Enterprise Forum, which does a great job of bringing these people together time and time again. It is a comment on the state of networking generally in this city, if not the western world.

But that evening was different. Darcy Rezac, Managing Director of the Vancouver Board of Trade, got on stage with a microphone, introduced himself, gave the group some ground rules and “permission to network”.

Some of his rules included:

* it’s about them, not you – find out what you can do for the other person;
* put your name tag on your upper right chest so that when you shake hands, the other person can see your name tag;
* invite others into your group and make the introductions so that people feel comfortable;
* look the other people in the eye – focus on them, and not on the venture capitalist walking by that you REALLY wanted to talk to;
* keep your cards handy in one pocket and use another pocket to store the cards you receive;
* when you offer a card, make sure you get the other person’s card
* try to get 7 cards minimum per event that you attend
* give yourself permission to go out and meet people so that you can see how you can help them.

The energy that this talk unleashed was enormous. People laughed and chatted and exchanged cards. In fact, it was hard to shepherd them out of the room to the upstairs theater for the actual talk! This evening was a turning point in my own understanding of networking and I will always remember it. I bought Darcy’s first book “The Frog and the Prince” that night from Gayle and read it that night.

Well, I’m pleased to report that Darcy Rezac, Judy Thomson, and Gayle Hallgren-Rezac are at it again and are releasing “Work the Pond – Use the Power of Positive Networking to Leap Forward in Business and in Life” on October 4, 2005.

No matter what you do – business, government, or non-profit work – if you need to work with people and build out your eco-system of “weak links”, you need to read this book. I highly recommend it.

Congratulations Darcy, Judy, and Gayle!