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Networking 101 – Be Distinctive

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For me, one of the key factors that work in my favour is that I am distinctive. It’s my personal branding – I mean put me in the middle of a Business Engage Hot Tables dinner and all the ladies are dressed to the nines . . . and I can usually be found in jeans and a t-shit or normal chinos and a golf shirt. It’s not that the other ladies look terrible, they all look absolutely gorgeous – I just look different and that is what stands out.

As a result of this, I am often stopped in the malls and greeted by name, and quite honestly, I usually stand there with absolutely no clue about who I am speaking to. This is another one of my personal challenges – I have a terrible memory for names and faces. There was a time that I used to get really embarrassed about this, but it’s honestly not a personal thing and sometimes things just are what they are. Numbers – now there’s my passion and I can tell you, without looking it up anywhere, that in 1977 the US$/Rand rate was 1.17 (which means that there were $1.17 to every Rand – yes the Rand was much stronger than the dollar). So now, I am honest and upfront and explain to the person greeting me that I have a terrible memory for names and faces and that I have no clue who they are. Here’s the thing though, often when this happens, I actually remember (not the person themselves) but where I met them. It’s like I get a ‘snapshot’ of their business card in my mind – how weird is that? Still, as I said – sometimes things just are what they are! Anyway, I digress and getting back to being distinctive . . .

Donna McCallum of “The Fairy Godmother Inc” fame (, always wears her ‘fairy wings’ to Networking events and usually brings her wand along to wave around and bestow lashings of fairy dust upon those around her. Now that’s being distinctive. I know that the first time I saw her regalia, I looked in open astonishment at this picture and wondered if I was in the right place. I mean, this was a Business Networking event and for a minute there I thought I was at some kiddies party, and actually looked around for the wizards and goblins. But you know what . . . no-one ever forgets Donna, her wings and her wand are now a familiar sight.

Then there’s Gwen Watkins of Freelancers ( ). Gwen is always a pretty picture in purple and I promise you, there is not a person who she has met along the way, who does not understand that purple is Gwen’s most favorite colour on the planet. It’s a comforting sight for me (Gwen used to be our MC at the Business Engage Hot tables dinners) to see Gwen rushing by in all the shades of purple – I know the evening is in good hands and will be well co-ordinated.

So whatever your ‘thing’ is – use it and be distinctive. It doesn’t matter if it is a colourful necktie, or a particular piece of jewellery, or that hat that you love to wear so much – use it. Stand out above the crowd and make sure that you never just ‘blend’ into the crowd.