My family moved to Sandusky, Ohio, when I was 10. Living on the shores of Lake Erie, my dad thought I should learn to fish. So one Saturday morning we bought a new fishing rod and reel and headed to the dock on Sandusky Bay. Dad carried my new fishing gear and I tagged along, with minnow bucket in hand.

I stood by patiently (which isn’t normal) while he opened the package and began to affix the rod to the reel. There were 4 holes and only 3 screws. I told him it would hold well enough, that 3 screws were OK; I didn’t want to wait any longer for something that minor.

Not a happy man at this point, he told me to wait there while he went to the car to get his tool box, which hopefully had a screw that would fit. As I stated earlier, I’m not very patient, and he seemed to be gone for such a long time. Watching the others fishing, I decided the rod was on plenty tight, and chose to try my hand at casting a line.

I stretched my arm back as far as it could go, swung it forward with as much force as a 10-year-old girl could, let go of the little button, and out went the line, making a whirrrr sound! I was so excited! But then I heard a plop. The rod was not attached as well as I thought it was. The pit in my stomach got much bigger when I looked up and saw my dad coming up next to me, with a screw that I must assume was the perfect size. Two words were spoken. “Let’s go.” He picked up the rod and we went home.

You’re probably wondering what this has to do with networking. Well, I look at networking as fishing for the right catch. There are whole oceans, lakes, rivers and ponds full of fish. Which ones will you catch? Which ones will you keep? Which ones will you toss back in? Meeting people at networking events is random. You introduce yourself, ask what they do, you say what you do, and you decide if they are a “keeper” while they decide the same thing about you. The keepers are the ones you choose to learn more about, with the ultimate catch being a great referral source or repeat customer.

If you have just one favorite fishing hole, and always go there, what happens when the fish supply becomes low? You leave without a new catch. Then you find a new fishing hole until that one runs dry. Why not have a few places so you can have a variety of fish to fry, so to speak? You don’t always want to eat perch; why not fish where you can catch a trout once in a while, too?

A plethora of networking associations provide you with a variety of opportunities. Also invite guests, which will bring a new school of fish into your pond. You need both. Are you restocking your pond? Are you providing opportunities for others to fish? Invite customers, vendors, neighbors, members of other networking groups to go with you to the next event. Ask other members to do the same. That will help breathe new life into the organization, bring new fish into your favorite fishing spots, and all will have plenty to catch.

Author's Bio: 

Cindy Hartman is President of Hartman Inventory (, a woman-owned business that provides business and home inventory services. She and her husband Mike also own Hartman Inventory Systems, an Inventory Turnkey Business package for those who want to establish their own inventory company (