How to Network Like a Working Girl

by Melody Vaught

Working Girl


The 80’s movie, Working Girl, generated an epiphany for me.  The actress, Melanie Griffith, using information she reads in the business section, entertainment news, and, yes, even a tabloid, pulls together bits of information and formulates a successful business deal.  Having information is powerful and knowing how to put that information to use is genius—so I started speed reading my local newspaper, and, branched out to other newspapers, magazines and online sources.

You may be asking yourself how reading these publications could benefit anyone professionally but trust me, my professional and personal life have been enhanced by making this a habit, including being quoted in The Wall Street Journal.  Here are a few great stories that illustrate things.

Going Down?

Riding an elevator alone, the doors opened at the 2nd floor and a nicely dressed woman entered.  I asked my elevator partner if she worked in the building, she handed me her business card, the elevator doors opened on the first floor, she exited and I pocketed her business card.  Over the next three years, her name was mentioned in complimentary articles in the newspaper twice.  I mailed her the articles with a short note reminding her where we met and congratulated her.  Sometime later, a student came to me with a critical time- sensitive need.  I tapped into my network hoping to find someone who could help fill his need without any success.  I had my hand on my phone to call the student and admit defeat when I thought of the woman in the elevator.  I used her email address on her business card, reminded her how we met, presented the need and contact information for the student and suggested she contact him directly, if she thought she could help him.  This woman not only filled the student’s need but filled it in a spectacular way that changed the student’s life.  My only contact with this woman was that 10 second elevator ride and those two mailed newspaper articles.

Mind If I Quote You?

One newspaper I read is The Wall Street Journal.  I emailed one of the columnists with a website that was related to the subject of her most recent column.  She responded to thank me and requested some information.  When I provided the information she requested about my educational and professional background, she asked me for a quote on the topic of her next column.  She included my quote in her next column, gave me credit and included the name of my work place.

A Proud Teacher and College

Recently, a front page story in the Home & Garden section of the newspaper featured a two page article about an unusually decorated local home that caught my eye.   The front page of the article mentioned the home owner was the CEO of a multi-media company that produces commercials and movie trailers.  The next page included a quote giving credit to the college where I was employed for his start in film.  I sent a copy of the article to the faculty member I correctly thought had been this man’s film instructor.  I discovered that this man had stayed in touch with his instructor and the teacher gave me permission to use his name should I want to contact the CEO in the future.

How to Network Like a Working Girl

Over the years, I have mailed or scanned and emailed a hundred or more newspaper, online and magazine articles to the subjects of the articles, who were people I thought I might like to contact in the future, the top administrators in my organization with whom I wanted to network, and colleagues who I thought would find the information useful, with a short personal note, and, when appropriate, my business card or contact information.

In your business and your personal life, looking for ways to acknowledge the accomplishments of others and validating that you actively listened to conversations and remembered peoples’ interests and needs is a great way to network, make a lasting impression and open the door to opportunities.

About the Author

Melody Vaught

Melody Vaught is an Instructor at the Small Business Development CenterYouth Entrepreneurship Program and Counseling Instructor at Santiago Canyon College.

About What’s For Work?

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Mission: To redefine how employers acquire talent and women find and preserve their dream jobs using innovative technologies.

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17 thoughts on “How to Network Like a Working Girl

  1. Great article Melody, the elevator story is especially powerful as a reminder that everyone may be a valuable contact and the effectiveness of building relationships even if it’s only a brief meeting and a couple of thoughtful emails

    • Thanks, Dennis, both for reading the blog and for taking the time to comment. If you have any stories of serendipitious moments like that, I would enjoy you sharing them with me. I thought of doing a follow-up blog sharing other people’s stories of making interesting connections and the opportunities that followed. If you want to be quoted in the blog and given credit, feel free to share.

  2. You are truly an example for all to see how building relationships can only benefit you and others along the line. You are an expert networker!

  3. Very informative! And I liked the elevator story as well. Networking takes all forms doesn’t it? Given the opportunity, most people will help others in a small way if possible. And that restores my faith in humanity.

    • Diane, I have seen you in action and you are a master networking. I could learn from you. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and add your comment.


  4. Pingback: The Three P’s of Soft Skills « CTE Central Blog

  5. Melody,
    I read your second blog first and found your information very useful for people interested in making a lasting impression. I went back and read your first blog and found I could relate to your elevator story personally. A chance meeting led to my career move that brought me great joy. I have recently retired but still marvel at the power of networking. I am looking forward to reading future blogs.

    • Hi, Pilar, thanks for taking the time to read both blogs and for your support for my blog future. Congratulations on your retirement! Melody

  6. Melody,

    Your elevator story is so interesting! Honestly, I think next time I ride an elevator I am going to take a page out of your networking notebook and make a connection.

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