How many of us were told, when we were children, that talking to strangers equaled danger? This well-meaning mantra was drilled into our heads for our protection. Strangers were scary and we were warned to stay away from them. “Stranger danger” was necessary growing up.

As adults, we need to take the idea of “strangers” out of networking, to make it less daunting. When you walk into that crowded room full of strangers, think of them as people you want to get to know.

Remember another old saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know?”

When you go networking, go with the mindset that you want to meet a few good people. This takes off some of the pressure. The idea that you have to run around the room and give a 30-second sales pitch to every one you meet, before running off to the next person to repeat that same pitch, fades into the background. Take your time. Ask someone what they do for work; find out what you have in common. These common links are what you build on. People want to do business with friends, not sales people.

Set up a second meeting. Bring a few contacts for your new friend, do not expect anything from them. If your new friend does have a few contacts for you, make sure to send them a handwritten thank-you note.

Periodically call, just to see how they are doing. Continue to build the relationship by reaching out and staying on mind so when something arises they’ll contact you.

Angella Luyk is president elect of the Rochester Women’s Network and CEO of One Stop Janitorial Carpet Supply. Reach her at This column is written by members of the Rochester Women’s Network (

Originally published in the Democrat & Chronicle on August 26th, 2013.