How to Network with People Who Stretch You

Nov 27 2017

by Laura Mixon Camacho

The Southern Coterie blog: "How to Network with People Who Stretch You" by Laura Mixon Camacho (photo: Kathryn McCrary of Lou What Wear at the 2017 Southern C Summit)
PR pro and lifestyle blogger Danielle Davis of Lou What Wear networking at the 2017 Southern C Summit (photo: Kathryn McCrary)

We all have VIPs in our circles. By VIP, naturally I mean “Very Interesting People”.  And by “very interesting” I mean they work at a company you admire, own a company you are following or they have some project going on that fascinates you. .Just this year I made friends with a Hollywood scriptwriter, an award-winning neuro-leadership performance coach and a national intellectual property attorney who also owns a paper goods business. None of these lovely professionals are clients but each one helped me grow my business. Even better, they stretched me. That’s what hanging out with interesting people does for you. Networking with interesting people stretches you.

You know how Jim Rohn says you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with? What if you want to hang out with some different people? That is, without divorcing your children and moving to another city.

Here’s how I do it. And remember, I’m a card-carrying introvert, someone who’s default activity is reading books in my room with the door shut.

Networking with VIPs: 3 Ways to Start

You hire them.

I hired Melissa Cassera in 2015 when I joined her year-long Obsessed copy writing program. I consider myself a good writer with academic cred, but today’s audiences are so busy, they only read skim read stuff that is funny, or at least fun. Does anyone actually read what college professors are writing? Only those who are forced to for their research papers.

I have been working with Melissa since then and even flew out to Los Angeles in May to meet with her in a small group workshop. She has stretched me by showing more creative ways to communicate and she takes it for granted that I can write a book.

What is the value when someone you respect sees more ability in you than you see yourself?

You reach out to them after an event.

I met Angie Avard Turner near the end of the last Summit. While we immediately connected, she lives 6 hours away from me so getting together for coffee was not really an option. She’s an attorney, I’m a conversation coach. But I knew I wanted to get to know her better.

So I reached out to her to talk about possibly creating a “pitching for creatives” workshop. Soon after I interviewed her for this article pitching. And now we’re sharing a room at the upcoming Summit.

Angie has stretched me by confidently envisioning our working together with creative entrepreneurs, when I usually work with technical professionals. I value the way she addresses pitching as she comes from a different point of view.

You invite the person to lunch.

Liz Guthridge is a local colleague who’s a leadership consultant. After running into her at a few local business events, I asked her to lunch. Which sounds like a normal thing to do but for me, asking an almost stranger to lunch was outside of my comfort zone. Coffee, no problem. Lunch, I’m worried about lettuce sticking to my teeth.

That was a year ago and since then Liz and I have lunch almost every month. She stretches me in a few ways, including personal style. She is ultra-chic, sophisticated and ALWAYS dressed like she’s having lunch with Miranda Priestly.

She’s has expertise that I don’t. She knows people that I don’t. And vice versa.


Networking with interesting people stretches you. – Laura Mixon Camacho


Networking with VIPs: Initial Contact Tips

Networking in Person

When you meet your Very Interesting Person, ask specific (but not personal) questions that show you’ve done your homework. Do NOT ask generic, “How did you start your business”? Find a detail, a connection, a unique point of view and ask about that.

If you were meeting photographer Gray Malin, rather than ask for the millionth time, “How did you get started in photography?” (Not that this question is stupid; it’s highly forgettable.) Ask, “Why did you use llamas in this particular photo, instead of zebras?” Or, I admire X piece because of Y.

Networking Digitally

Make a list of 10 VIPs and get their email addresses. (Yes, you can find anyone’s email address if you look carefully.) Email them with one of these two approaches.

Soft Approach

SUBJECT LINE: Awesome interview!

Dear Helga,

I read about your new business in Fast Company magazine. I think what you’re doing is amazing and I’ll be following your work.

I really admire that you make everyone wear pink on Tuesdays (OR WHATEVER STRIKES YOUR SPECIFIC FANCY.)


Laura Camacho

Bold Approach (when you can actually meet with this person)

SUBJECT LINE: Sweet Briar Grad – would love to chat with you

Dear Helga,

My name is Laura Camacho and I read about you in the latest SBC alumnae newsletter. (Let the person know how you came across them to avoid creepiness.)

I am a huge fan of your company’s chocolate chia seed butter and would love to meet with you next month when I’m in Rock Hill for a friend’s wedding. I can come to your company. Is there any possibility I could take you a coffee on and chat for 20 minutes that Thursday or Friday xxx? I want to know how you manage that new packaging process for your chocolate chia seed butter.

Thank you,

Laura Camacho

And then, follow up.

If you take the Soft Approach, send another specific comment in a month or so. Then try to meet up with that person.

If you take the Bold Approach, meet if that works out, and try again later if it does not. Make sure you thank them for their time and let them know later on how their advice/input helped you.

Don’t ever think you that VIP would never have time for the likes of you (it’s all about the approach.)  High performers love to meet with other VIPs, including you. I hope I get to meet you soon!


Laura Mixon Camacho View More Blog Posts from this Author

Laura Mixon Camacho, PhD, is obsessed with communication as a tool for building bridges and careers. She believes all conversations should be carried out with style and imagination. And public speaking is just a special sort of conversation. Laura creates quirky communication workshops and she does private one-to-one coaching. She is the go-to coach if you want to improve your communication skills to move your business or career forward with more confidence, more impact and less stress. Read more at

Leave a Comment

9 responses on “How to Network with People Who Stretch You

  1. Lisa Coleman

    Enjoyed reading your article. On a personnel level regaining the art of conversation after years of raising 4 sons is high priority on my list for growth. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Erin Douglass

    Fantastic article! I am also a ‘card carrying introvert,’ so I especially loved the information!

  3. Ashley Williams

    Loved reading this because one of my biggest hurdles/hang-ups is reaching out without sounding just like everyone else or just out right getting no response. My 2018 goal is to do more of this. Nothing inspires me more than talking to people that “stretch” me!! So my question is, and it sounds like this is acceptable, I can reach out more than once over a given amount of time if there was no response the first time?

  4. Dr. Sage Campione

    Good Morning,

    I am you have scholarships or funds placed a side for those that would like to attend yet have financial compromise? I have a patient who is self employed and truly working hard to get a ‘leg up’.

    Kind Regards,
    Dr. Sage Campione

  5. Gina Warner

    Laura – thanks for this great article full of practical advice! Productive networking is hard – even for extroverts! Can’t wait to try some of these ideas!

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