The 29% Solution: 52 Weekly Networking Success Strategies

The secret to running a successful business is a secret no longer. The answer? Networking.

Attention entrepreneurs, CEOs, businessmen and businesswomen the world over. The secret to running a successful business is a secret no longer. The answer? Networking.

At least this is the answer according to Ivan Misner, who has a Ph.D. in organizational behavior, and Michelle R. Donovan, authors of The 29% Solution: 52 Weekly Networking Success Strategies. But, considering that Misner is founder and chairman of Business Network Int’l, the world’s largest business-networking organization, and author of numerous books (including Masters of Networking, which was on The New York Times “Best Sellers List”), and Donovan is the owner of a business-referral company and is known as “The Referability Expert” here in Pittsburgh, I think it’s safe to take their word for it. After all, they’ve both built successful networking businesses using their own networking principles. In short: They practice what they preach.

Now, maybe you’re asking yourself, what’s the big deal? I know how to network. Well, as Misner and Donovan point out, knowing and doing are two different things, and many people have many misconceptions about networking. The truth behind the first misconception, which is the theory that everyone in the world is somehow separated through just six other people, inspired the title of this book. The “29%”refers to the findings in a popular small-world experiment conducted in the 1960s and ’70s by social psychologist Stanley Milgram, the result of which brought the term “six degrees of separation” into popular culture.

However, as Misner and Donovan point out, the six-degrees-of-separation-theory is only partly true. In fact, what Stanley Milgram’s experiment discovered is that only 29 percent of all the world’s people are separated by just six degrees. And the ultimate goal of this book is to help enterprising business-folk join the elite ranks of the top 29 percent, the expert networkers and the conduits through which all people can be connected.

Now for those of you not familiar with business networking—no a Facebook account does not count—Misner and Donovan explain it like this: “Networking is the process of developing contacts and relationships to increase your business, enhance your knowledge, expand your sphere of influence, or serve the community…[as well as] leveraging your business and personal connections to bring you a regular supply of new business.” But as I said, the problem is often not in the knowing, but in the doing. And that’s where The 29% Solution comes in handy.

The book is broken down into 52 specific strategies—everything from profiling your preferred client to meeting the right people—with one focus for each week of the year. The main thing to remember, though, is that networking is a two-way street, a point hammered home by the book’s recurring mantra: Givers gain.

But I know what you’re saying: Do Misner and Donovan’s strategies really work? The answer: Ask me again in a year.

The 29% Solution: 52 Weekly Networking Success Strategies: Ivan R. Misner, Ph.D., and Michelle R. Donovan; Greenleaf Book Group Press, $21.95 (Hardcover).

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