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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Leonard Getz, Network Kahuna

By Bruce Newman

Mid-Atlantic Bureau Chief
(New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington DC, West Virginia, Virginia)

You rarely find an individual as committed and engaging as Leonard "Leo" Getz, a wildly passionate networker. In a recent and extremely interesting telephone interview, Leo discussed networking and how everyone should be able to benefit from it. Leo, an expert networker, produced a large networking event, Big Business Expo, in Staten Island on September 23rd.

Are you a network kahuna?

Actually, this isn’t the title I would have chosen for myself. A client gave it to me and it stuck. Calling myself a grassroots networker is probably more accurate.

What is a grassroots networker?

A grassroots networker is a person who is involved with the building of relationships. I’m a conduit - bringing people together who each have something of quality to offer.

This networking experience is a co-operative; it requires both parties to make it happen. It’s not passive, but assertive. I’m the middle person, the mediator, who provides connectivity – “let’s look for a REAL fit” or more succinctly, “what can we build together”?

Too often, networking events – and I have attended hundreds of them in the past few years, are about trying to make the sale, giving away business cards or even just eating lunch. Many of them aren’t really about developing relationships which should be their emphasis. Instead, it’s usually just giving your card to another person and (maybe) following up and calling them the next day, which amazingly, many people fail to do.

On that basis, you would expect most tradeshow experiences to be negative. Do you agree?

I have received many phone calls from businesses and show attendees who have complained about the time, cost and lack of response they received. Often, this is because all they did was “take”. Developing a relationship, understanding the quality of the offering and what is needed is essential for a long term business relationship. There is little relationship-building between any two parties if they don’t bother to understand each other.

Trade shows should not be about hope. They should be about expanding your alliances and the opportunity to showcase. If I go to a trade show thinking, “I hope someone buys my product”, it’s doubtful I’ll be successful.

Remember, everyone who attends an event needs something. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be there. Find out what it is. Even if you can’t supply it, perhaps you can direct them to someone who can. This might even become the starting basis of a relationship.

So, why are you doing an event? How will it differ from most events?

This event has been actually my form of showcasing how I would do it differently. It is borne from years of attending mixers and trade shows. People kvetch about how little they have gotten out of an event. Business events are not about sales. They should be about connections, keeping current and “face time”.

My event is not just a networking event. My mission is to be a matchmaker, to introduce people and help them build something from a common ground. I’m tired of people just giving out cards. I want to build an environment where it’s about interacting and learning from each other-- reaching out, that’s what is important. I’m hoping that the attendees don’t have to be driven so much by their sales quotas and deadlines; that’s the kind of pressure that takes away the natural propensity to be REAL with others.

In building a relationship, what should people be asking?

Too often, people approach an event thinking, “what can I get out of this”? If they were thinking more long term and productively, they should be thinking, “what can I do for you”?

People attend events to sell both services and products. What would you say is the most crucial aspect of what they have to sell?

Quality. Show me quality. Get to know what I want and show me the goods. Showcase your quality. Don’t sit on your laurels. Be active and show me why you’re better. Prove that you’re good. Educate me, and we can start to build a relationship. And remember, relationships are organic – they must grow to survive and they must have trust.

Know your product. Know who you are. This event showcase works because it helps you differentiate yourself from everyone else. Both very large and small companies will be at the showcase; they all need the opportunity to show their quality and to educate and develop relationships.

What also helps identify you is your creative process, something that you take pride in. Put that in the forefront whenever you attend an event. People who can do this make the best impression.

What have you learned from all of the events you have attended?

I have learned many different things from every event I have attended. I have met truly amazing people at some the events, people such as Gayle Naftali (of who will put people at a round table and have them answer questions about what they do without first explaining it – sort of a What’s My Line? in networking. On the downside, I have also learned that people don’t follow up or effectively network. Without these experiences – both good and bad, I couldn’t do what I am doing now.

Do you have any final words my readers can take with them?

Actually, I have two quotes – neither of which is mine (unfortunately).

“Businesses that give are businesses that grow.”

This one is my favorite. “It’s not just who you know, but who knows you” (and what do they know about you).

Leo Getz, is a grassroots networker with many years of networking experience ( He can be reached via email at: or by phone at: 718-229-8953.

Next Month: The results of my survey asking how important it is to attend networking events in this highly connected and very social era.

If you have a major networking event you would like to publicize, please contact me via email and I will list it at the end of the upcoming month’s article.

Bruce Newman is a consulting guru and the Vice President at The Productivity Institute, LLC ( which provides prodinst by matching the specific software products and services needs of companies to rated outstanding consultants who can meet those needs. Any company that wishes to improve their productivity can sign up for this free service and be contacted by up to five rated outstanding consultants.

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Aimee Wilson said...

I like the term "matchmaker" that Leo Getz used in this interview. However, like any match made, there must be interaction from both parties for the "courting" and the match to be made.

I find that professionals who attend networking events without a clear purpose in mind and a succinct idea of what they need from others make it difficult to help them or become a matchmaker for them. Along the same lines, it is difficult to know if there is a fit when there is no feedback.

Savor life's best,
Aimee Wilson

Bruce Newman said...

I wholeheartedly agree. It is very important that people have a specific idea concerning what they want to accomplish at an event and to select those functions where they can be successful. Too often, I hear about people who attend events just for the sake of attending events.

I will be writing about this in more detail in my November article.

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