Global NetworKing Program
Chairman: Charles D.A. Ruffolo
Charles D.A. Ruffolo – MPA (1957) settled down in the Netherlands after retiring from the U.S. Military and enriched our business environment with his talent as a professional networker. Charles Ruffolo is an international speaker, trainer, moderator, author and Founder of The NetworKing Academy and the Giving Back Foundation. He has spoken around the world and presents over 150 times each year. Ruffolo is also the man who arranged former President Clinton, Sir Richard Branson Stedman Graham, Al Gore, General Wesley K. Clark and several other high profile persons to visit the Netherlands. He wrote a best seller on networking “Network Your Way to Success” also published in Dutch and Chinese and “Your Wake-Up Call” on NetworKing with motivation, enthusiasm and inspiration. He also created The NetworKing card game called the “Ruffle Shuffle.”
He is a member of Clinton’s Global Initiative (CGI) and Chairman of the Diplomatic Council Global NetworKing Program. Charles is married to Herma for over 34 years.
Throughout each and every day, there are countless opportunities to connect you to people, places and things that can benefit your life and, in turn, benefit others. Will you choose to ignore those opportunities or will you choose to network your way to success?
Unfortunately, the power of your everyday connections often goes totally unrecognized and untapped. If fostered, these connections, can change your life if you acknowledge their power and utilize them properly. The alternative is to live with broken threads.
Fortunately, networking works for children, college students, housewives and househusbands, the successful and those who aspire to success, the maid and the master, the idolized and the indigent. It is by no means limited to the corporate executive or the already influential person.
In fact, that’s precisely my aim in writing this White Paper on NetworKing – to show the average person how to network just as easily and effectively as the person who seems to have all the right bells and whistles already at his or her disposal. There is absolutely no one – I repeat, no one, exempt from the pervasive power of networking.
Anyone can network… and everyone does!
Principles of NetworKing
The good news is that anyone can network and, in fact, you already do. Networking is the silver spoon that you were born with and, regardless of your nationality, status, career, inclination, wealth or lack of it, that spoon can feed you in greater ways than you’ve ever imagined. Once you become aware of the choices served up by a menu of effective networking, you’ll never go back to a diet without it.￼
Once you learn some of the simple but practical facts about networking set forth in this White Paper on NetworKing, you’ll never regard casual interactions in the same way again. Once you get into the habit of networking, you’ll realize that anything – and everything – is possible.
Through the many years of training, lecturing, speaking and hosting networking events throughout the world, I have seen, heard and experienced that many people have the wrong perception of the power of networking. People often ask me how I got to be so inspired, motivated, enthused and maintain such a positive attitude. And I tell them that I keep the spirit and faith in networking alive in my heart and soul. I want to bring across this fact and to empower everyone that we were all born with a powerful network, but we don’t think we have a network, or know how to energize it to reach the level of success we are pursuing at a certain moment in our lives.
Networking is not what you want, but what others in your network need or want at that moment in their lives – please don’t make the mistake that you think you have the best thing going. When we understand what networking is, we will quickly realize that we all are faced with the same challenges and obstructions.
What is networking?
In my first book, “Network Your Way To Success,” I fully described what networking is. In short, Webster says that networking is “making connections among people or groups of a like kind.” I say that networking is being able to help or benefit from contacts with individuals with whom you have a direct or indirect relationship; in short, a positive process of mutual support.
It’s about linking common interests that surface throughout life, about making connections among people you meet on a daily basis. It’s about gathering and exchanging information, assistance, ideas, resources and advice. It’s about benefiting from those vital links, and giving back in return.
Networking is no rocket science. It’s a common sense way of life. But you have to learn the ropes, or the loop of success won’t swing your way.￼
Networking is, indeed, a behavioral and organizational skill, but those are just fancy terms for something so basic and commonplace, that you already do it without thinking.
Problem is that you most likely do it on such a minimal basis, that you may not recognize it, and, therefore, it barely impacts your life the way it could.
Networking is a philosophy of life. It’s about not settling for the status quo. It’s a philosophy built on faith, hope, trust, respect, integrity, empathy, perseverance and making things happen with a lot of enthusiasm, even if you are successful or you fail to reach your goals. It is your ability to give back to others and love what you do in your network. It’s an art of interacting with and influencing people while listening to their needs and wishes. And it’s a science of chemistry between people in all walks of life. It’s pure and practical and, above all, it works.
Contrary to popular opinion, networking is a lot more than marketing or selling. It’s literally a way of life. Personally, networking helps me to deal with some of life’s minor annoyances as well as my most challenging obstacles and opportunities. It helps me to identify clients and increase my profitability. It means exposure for me – as it will for you – in untold ways.
You can learn how to foster and build a network from the ground up, and then make it a ritual in your daily life, the same as I’ve done with mine. When you do, you’ll experience unfathomable rewards. Once you make it a habit, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without consciously networking all the time. It’s addictive – hopefully the best – or better yet the only – addiction you’ll ever have.
Five basic requirements
At the core of all the networking training that I do are five basic requirements of any successful networking endeavor, upon which I briefly elaborate in this White Paper. In order to network effectively, you must:
1. Begin your network. This encompasses building and expanding your network. Discover the network you were born with, and how to take on the world from there.
￼2. Know your network. This involves communicating to and from your network. You’ll be amazed at who’s in it… and who else should be.
3. Bond with your network. This requires that you energize your network and share experiences. Put those parties and luncheons to work!
4. Nurture your network. This means you must lead your network, and follow certain proven methods for networking in action. For example, those articles you send to me about the Pittsburgh Steelers mean a lot! Find out what pushes your network buttons.
5. Give to your network. This demands that your network benefits from you in return. Giving back is so essential that I’ve declared it the cardinal rule of networking. Learn why and how to reciprocate.
Learning to network effectively
Despite its demonstrable power and effectiveness, networking is still, for many, a vague concept that is difficult to grasp. This White Paper on NetworKing gives you some general information about exactly how to network by incorporating your practical methods and principles into your daily life. When you’ve finished reading this White Paper, you’ll be able to go directly from “A” to “Z” without getting waylaid on “B” to “Y”. You’ll learn a skill that will set the pace for the rest of your life, and you’ll be amazed at just how easy… and fun… networking can be. Best of all, it’s free!
Networking is the difference between watching and participating. You’ll no longer need to ask yourself why you never receive whatever it is in life that you’re seeking, because you’ll be more self-confident and competent to achieve all of your goals, regardless of the extent, nature, or supposed difficulty.
In essence, you’ll be a hundred times more productive and successful than you’ve ever been before.
You can network more effectively. Don’t be duped into thinking that it’s too tough or that you’re just not outgoing enough to swing it. I know for a fact that everyone, no matter what his or her level of education or predisposition, can learn to network.
Why do it?
Without networking, you’ll have a much more difficult time finding a job, locating the perfect house, hiring the right employee, attracting the right partner or spouse, acquiring new clients, making a sale, or just about anything else you set out to do in life.
Perhaps you’ve wondered:
“Why am I never asked to do this or that?” My response: Do you wait or do you create your own opportunities?
“Where can I find new markets?” My response: Anywhere and everywhere that people meet.
“How do I gather valuable information?” My response: Do you want the short or the long route? Networking will cut your time and effort in half.
As you know, today’s marketplace is fiercely competitive. You can be as street smart and book smart as they come, but if you don’t know how to connect with other people, no amount of diplomas, degrees or savvy will pave your way.
My own story
Take me, for instance. I basically grew up on the streets. Sure, I had a warm, cozy, Italian/Irish-American family with five brothers and four sisters, but I also had a reputation to howl. I knew my way forward and backward through the rough and rowdy web of my neighborhood that I traversed with my best friend, Robert “Ikey” Carroll, a fellow Irish-American who still laughs about our antics – the basis, he insists, upon which I later built my networking business. Because I had friends and contacts throughout the various subcultures of my terrain, I could go anywhere and be accepted. From an early age, I recognized the power of a network, and I used it, even in my naïve youth, to get me both in and out of trouble.￼
You see, the “Ruf”, as I came to be known, was truly a ruffian. “Trouble” wasn’t only my middle name, it was my mantra. In fact, if I hadn’t been prodded into joining the U.S. military by my older brothers, Robert (“Olo” to me) who had just returned from Vietnam, and , Joseph, who was serving in the U.S. Air Force in Japan, I guarantee that I’d probably be either in jail or dead today – despite the safety network I had engendered. Although I realize now that everyone is responsible for what he or she does and does not t do, regardless of the power of a network, you couldn’t have convinced me of that back then.
Irresponsible as I was, I skipped school a lot as a kid, and literally got my high school diploma by default. It didn’t help, of course, that when I was 14 and 15 years old I worked evenings in an Italian pizzeria and then for a Jewish bakery from 1:00-3:00 AM stocking their delivery trucks, with school bidding unsuccessfully for my time in the space of a few hours.
Granted, my parents tried to drill discipline into me at home, but it didn’t entirely work. The only discipline I employed was on the street where following the rules and knowing whom to energize to “get the job done” – whatever that was at the time – was clearly critical. I also learned the hard way that you don’t tarnish your network, no matter what, and that holds true in every aspect of my life today.
Far from being complicated, networking is based on very basic concepts such as those. In fact, the rudimentary elements of networking that I had witnessed and used at home – such like visiting my Godmother, Aunt Louise Rothrauff, at the “5 and 10-cent” store where she worked, and getting free candy and attention – were the basis of my lifelong conditioning and devotion to networking.
“Order what you want,” she’d say, as I settled myself in at the shop’s lunch booth,“ and I’ll be right back.”
In the meantime, everyone who knew and worked with Aunt Louise would stop by to say hello, making me feel like a king, Fortunately, I wasn’t too naïve at the time to realize the power of her network.
The same thing happened on the street. No matter where I went, people would ask me, instantly recognizing that I was Italian, if I was a Ruffolo, a Garritino or a Sorrentino.￼
Once I replied that I was a Ruffolo, they would ask if I was Uffo’s, Fuzzy’s, Mundo’s, Alfonso’s, Jumbo’s or Joe’s kid.
“Joe’s kid,” I would proudly reply, and they would immediately invite me in to have something to eat and drink.
“Pretty cool, this network,” quick-learner-that-I-was would think. “These connections make a difference.”
Another person with connections all over town was my mother, Clara E., by far the best networker I have ever known. No matter where I was or how late it was, my mother knew how to find me.
I remember that we were once at someone’s house, very late in the evening and the phone rang. I heard Ikey’s girlfriend say, “It’s for you,” and I was shocked because I thought no one knew I was there. Yes, Clara E., my mother, just wanted to know where I was and if everything was all right. Everyone looked at me, and Ikey said, ‘Your mother always knows where you are.”
Another time we went all-night bowling, not informing my parents, of course, but sure enough at around 3:30 AM the phone rang and someone asked, ‘Is there a Ruffolo in the house?” and I said, “That’s me.” Guess who it was? Yes, Clara E., my mother. Again, she was just checking to determine where I was and to ensure that everything was fine. At the time, I did not understand what networking was but I knew, as well as my friends, the ability of my mother’s networking skills. She had a powerful network and she could very effectively energize it to find her last-born son.
The street, then, was my “Basic Training” and the military my “Advance Training”.
Fortunately for me (and my family), the military succeeded in finishing off the discipline that my parents and family tried to instill in me. In fact, had it not been for the U.S. Army, where a quick and thorough lesson in discipline turned into a 20-year military career, I never may have got the education I needed, provided free of charge, no less, while I was a soldier and Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) stationed in Europe during 19 of those years.
Street smart? You bet. Book smart? I’ve got my AS (Associates Degree), my BS (I know what some of you are thinking, but it’s a Bachelor’s of Science), and my MPA (Masters of Public Administration). It took me over 15 years of night school to get those degrees, but they wouldn’t be worth two cents – whether dollars or euros – if I hadn’t also learned how to network.
It was the military, in fact, that gave me my first lesson in networking, albeit in a rather crude way. Their modus operandi was “Kick butt and take names.” I’ve toned that down a bit, you’ll be glad to know, in my current work as a Professional Networker, Trainer, Speaker, Author and Publisher. I now shake hands and take names – but still in gun- powder time. In a split second, you learn who can do what for you, and vice versa. That’s networking, pure and simple. From day one, the U.S. Army taught me to get focused and let others know what you want in record time, to “shoot, move and communicate” – or die -. The ultimate goal, of course, was to survive on the battlefield and return home to your family.
Networking is exactly the same. By finding out, before the opportunity and the moment pass, who has the resources you need, as well as who needs the resources that you have to offer, you connect for success. Mission accomplished.
You won’t know what those resources are, however, until you tap into the well of your network
Let your network do the walking
Let’s face it, you can’t rely solely on the Yellow Pages of the local phonebook to get you through life. You need connections. Real life connections. You need a network. And the sooner you realize this and build a network, the quicker you’ll accomplish things, and the more fruitful and rewarding your life will be, not only for you, but for everyone who crosses your path.
With networking, opportunities are endless. One and one will equal four. You will find the resources you need and energize them to grow serendipitously for you.
Networking provides you with an edge. It’s the difference between being plugged in or left out. It’s the universal language of success.
For the skeptics
No doubt, some of you will be skeptical or critical. There are those who think that networking is nothing more than schmoozing to get what you want, whether it is money or favors.
To those I say, networking can clearly help you make more money, if that is your intent. We all have to earn a living (although some of us tend to think that we need more money than is truly necessary). Financial reward, however, is only one facet of the multi-faceted benefits of networking. So, what are the others? Well, look at it this way. There isn’t much that networking can’t do.
Networking can help everyone, no matter what his or her status in life, to navigate the waters in a more productive, enriching way with less frustrations, bumps, and dead ends. It’s not cheating, lying, or stealing. Networking is simply about using the connections you already make on a daily basis, and expanding those parameters by leaps and bounds to achieve your goals. The more you can feed that process, the more ease with which you’ll travel through life and benefit others on your way.
Whatever your needs and wants are at any given time in your life – a new car, a new job, a new apartment, a new love, or something as simple as finding a good dentist, a lawyer, a financial advisor, a babysitter or even a puppy for your kids – networking can make it happen with the least amount of time, trouble and expense. Surveys show that networking is the number one way that people find jobs. I take that one step further and propose that it’s the number one way to get anything accomplished in life.
You see, luck doesn’t exist. I believe in faith and hard word. Successful people make their success happen; it doesn’t just fall in their laps.
Success requires a combination of being in the right place at the right time, connecting with the right people, recognizing an opportunity when you see it, and then grasping it.
That takes foresight, planning, resourcefulness, motivation, initiative, enthusiasm and gumption. After all, a key syllable in the word “networking” is “work”. It’s the paddle that moves the canoe. Without it, you’re dead in the water.
In my second book “Your Wake-Up Call”, I stress that: “Everyone is born with a network, and through life, your network grows, based on your values and norms and the respect that you earn through your actions to give back. With this White Paper on NetworKing, , I wanted to “Wake You Up” to what you already have, and provide you a guide to inspire, motivate and enthuse yourself and others to be successful in networking.
As you’ll learn, there is another side to the equation as well: giving back. Networking is a give and receive process, not just take. My experience proves that if reciprocal good deeds are not spawned, the process falls flat and networking fails. It simply does not work if networking is one-sided. The scale must balance.
So, no, networking cannot only be about what’s in it for you. In order for it to work and last, networking must include a strong element of reciprocity. Case closed.
Networking as a way of life – your life
The ultimate question is this: Why leave your network to chance if you can multiply your connections in life a million-fold by consciously and actively networking on a regular basis? Once you get the hang of it, you go into automatic pilot and networking becomes a habit, a way of life. Try it. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain and give back.
If networking didn’t work, I wouldn’t be where I am today – a successful Professional Networker, Trainer, Speaker, Author and Publisher with an energized network of friends and associates around the world. Believe me, networking can be a productive, healthy, humanitarian way of life if properly learned and performed with good intentions.
The way I see it, there are two basic schools in life: the school of hard knocks and the art of networking, which facilitates almost anything you can imagine… and more. Why knock yourself out trying to make your life run smoothly when networking can ease the way? As sure as I know that my name is Charles Douglas Armando Ruffolo, that’s how sure I am that networking will change your life.
As I always say NetworKing is not, “Who you know, but who knows YOU.” People must know in order to help you achieve your goals, and in order for you to help them achieve theirs in return.
Charles D.A. Ruffolo, MPA Founder, Chairman of the DC Global NetworKing Program and Member of Clinton’s Global Initiative (CGI).