Identifying Potential Networking Intersections

October 26, 2020By Views

By Dave Wendland, for Forbes Agency Council, as appeared on September 25, 2020

Representing the interests of your agency has never been a 9-to-5 job. In fact, one never knows when your next interaction will result in a new business opportunity. More than three decades ago I wrote a short piece entitled “Is Your Net-Working?” This question should be examined often as communication methods emerge, technologies shift and the global market continues to evolve.

My previous Forbes Agency Council article discussed overcoming fears in a live networking setting. Given limited travel and few industry events because of the pandemic, this article addresses places to look for new connections in the absence of traditional networking opportunities.

Let’s get started with a perfect example of “timing is everything.” The year was 1986, and Dave Hamacher, the founder of our company, was about to enter a new phase of growth. Unbeknownst to him as he boarded the short flight from Milwaukee to Minneapolis, fate was about to guide his next move.

Seated next to Dave sat a newly awarded college graduate with an information technology degree. As the hourlong flight ensued, he asked the young woman where she was going and what she was hoping to achieve during the trip. Dawn Vogelsang replied that she had just graduated from the University of Wisconsin and was pursuing a career in IT. Dave asked for a copy of her resume just in case he knew someone who may be interested.

The parallels between recruiting great talent and discovering potential customers or business allies are closely aligned. To begin the process of identifying potential networking intersections, you must first imagine yourself in your prospective customer’s shoes and think about where they might go. Zero in on these top five areas where new business opportunities may be lurking.

Thought Leadership

By creating thought-provoking content, you’re building a personal brand and establishing relationships that help you become a trusted resource. Ensure consistent messaging, and remain focused on the goal of broadening avenues to expand your network of influence and possibilities. Remember, you must provide true thought leadership, arming your customers with knowledge to better their business. Your content has to be beneficial to your audience and not just beneficial to your brand’s messaging strategy.

Social Networks

Social media is not going away (more than half of the world’s total population now uses social media), and it can be a point of interaction with leads. The social media’s pervasiveness and reach, along with the speed with which you can bring your message to the masses, make these channels meaningful network-building tools. It should come as no surprise that customer buying cycles have become more sophisticated, and more often than not customers peruse social channels to get a better feel for the humanistic side of the business. Be the kind of business that your customers want to do business with.


When holding formal industry events and conferences in person is impossible, the next best thing is a webinar. Not only does this provide a forum to share insights and voice opinions, but registration can also populate a networking pipeline of business allies and prospects. Additionally, actively participating in (e.g., raising your hand, asking well-placed questions) and listening to other sponsored webinars can bring exposure to your brand and business. Also, with interactive webinar platforms, polling the audience to get real-time input and provide immediate insight and responses is immeasurably important.


Volunteering is an excellent way to meet people, particularly those with similar values and interests. Although in-person volunteering is more difficult given today’s circumstances, finding alternative outlets to lend a hand can be invaluable to not only fulfill your desire to give back to your community, but also to strengthen your professional network. Simply put, people like to work with people who spend time helping others.


It’s amazing that more people don’t rely on their existing customers and contacts for referral business. This remains one of the most effective ways to foster prospects — and you will soon discover the world is not that big. Human nature confirms that most people are often more than willing to help one another. All you need do is ask.

When navigating potential opportunities and identifying likely prospects, consider the following criteria to ensure you are zeroing in on those most likely to be a good target:

• Industry alignment/familiarity: Do you share similar values and solve relatable business needs?

• Shared goals/experiences: Is there a common ground that can be a jumping-off point?

• Capability or knowledge gap: Do you offer complementary services/products?

• Previous connection or contact: Have your paths (or those of mutual contacts) crossed?

• Valuable exchange: Can you share a referral or offer them a “golden tip” to kick things off?

So, what intersections could you be making during the course of each day, and how do you take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves?