Book Insights: The 20 Minute Networking Meeting

A team sets a KPI

Networking is an essential career skill — but it’s often hard to cultivate.

“Rely on your network,” has become standard advice for professionals in transition, but few put this into practice in an optimal way. Thankfully, networking is a skill that any professional can learn. It helps to have access to resources like The 20-Minute Networking Meeting, the award-winning guide by Marcia Ballinger and Nathan A. Perez.

Here’s a brief overview of what you can gain from this practical, insightful book, written by people who know about the world of executive transition.

Who is This Book For?

This guide has specific relevance for anyone in the midst of career transition. But really it’s for anyone who has an eye to personal career development. Networking never goes out of style, and it is applicable to every industry.

Executives who never felt comfortable with networking gain practical tips on the process. Even those who know how to network gain new insight, refresher tips, and perhaps a new perspective on an old business standby.

What Insights Does It Provide?

This guide includes important information on how to develop and maintain a network over time. The core of the guide is how to ace the networking meeting by making it more efficient and mutually beneficial.

The 20-Minute Marketing Meeting approaches networking contextually. It acknowledges that in order to ace the meeting, one has to develop a plan of action. To that end, the book covers such issues as:

  • How to create a networking agenda
  • How to construct key questions to lead a discussion
  • How to construct a professional background, from a recruiter perspective
  • How to expand a professional network with more people
  • How to break into the “Invisible/Hidden Job Market” (where between 70-80% of all jobs are obtained)

With this kind of practical, evergreen information, the book will remain on the shelves of executives before, during, and even after career transition, as a handy guide to keep networking skills sharp throughout a career.

Here are some ways Ballinger and Perez create an accessible, easy-to-read guide.

Real-Life Examples

Instead of relying on theory alone, the book offers several real-life examples of networking in action. The guide also offers outside perspectives on networking. This allows the reader to go beyond mere platitudes to see how networking works in practice.

This serves a couple of purposes. Most of us learn better when we see theory in action. Also, the book shows that professionals experience networking differently. Practical tips go a long way, but at the end of the day, it may be that networking is unique to each person.

Understanding What Networking Really Is — and Isn’t

The authors take the time to dispel some common myths about networking. These are the perceptions some people have that hold them back from moving forward. They also adeptly explain why networking is so important, even when a professional is not in transition.

They do this while acknowledging the discomfort many people feel about networking. This gives the reader reassurance that their trepidations are common. It also offers a clear path forward to develop and hone networking skills, so the process no longer feels like a burden.

Narrowing in on the 20-Minute Meeting

True to the book’s title, its core is an in-depth discussion of the 20-minute meeting. The authors break it down into five essential components: the first impression, the overview, the discussion, the ending, and the follow-up.

Consistent with the book’s strategy of providing practical advice, the authors also offer a sample 20-minute meeting. Again, this is just one more way that Ballinger and Perez show the reader how to put theory into practice.

Essential Tools and Tips

The usefulness of The 20-Minute Marketing Meeting extends right to the appendix, where the authors provide exercises and planners that readers can use to put the book’s tenets to work. This provides an opportunity for an essential run-through of networking strategies, as well as a kind of self-assessment of one’s comfort level with the new strategies.

There’s even a section called “Your Small Token of Gratitude,” which gives networkers the chance to approach the process from a place of mutual benefit, positivity, and reciprocity.

The Bottom Line

The 20-Minute Marketing Meeting is an essential read for any executive who wants to hone their networking skills. Its practical tips and informed perspective make it a trustworthy addition to any professional’s career library.

The Authors

Marcia Ballinger, PhD is the Co-Founder and Principal of Ballinger|Leafblad, an executive search firm located in St Paul, Minnesota. She is a frequent writer and speaker on a wide variety of topics related to executive job search.

Nathan A. Perez is an award-winning author, speaker, and executive career coach. Prior to joining Career Innovation, a consultancy for job-seekers, he worked in the executive search industry.

To get even more expert insights from the author, check out Marcia Ballinger’s recent Ivy Exec webinar, Networking for Success.


About the Author

Catherine Lovering has written on personal finance and careers for the past 10 years. She has been published on, Healthline, and Paste.