On Wednesday morning we were lucky enough to host Ari Kaplan, a West author and professional networking guru, who took time out of his current book tour to stop at Thomson Reuters. Ari spoke about creating and building a network, the skills it takes to work the career ladder, and his new book – Reinventing Professional Services: Building Your Business in the Digital Marketplace.

Early in his presentation, Ari spoke about the importance of distinguishing yourself from competitors and exceeding expectations. He supplements this advice with an anecdote: the taxi driver who took him from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to Thomson Reuters in Eagan offered Ari a bottle of water. Ari learned that the driver buys water bottles in bulk and offers them to his customers. He said that he does this because it raises his tips by at least 20%. This taxi driver is paying attention to detail and exceeding customer expectations. Ask yourself: what are you offering that is unique? What is your bottle of water?

Ari also spoke about the increasing importance of networking and the role that technology, including social media, plays in this. Networking is about knowing who you want to meet, and being able to connect them to others. He pointed out that it is easier to share about others than about ourselves, and yet networking with another person reflects who you are.

The quality of relationships means more than the sheer number of connections one may have. Therefore being able to leverage technology to increase networking opportunities and differentiate yourself from others is increasingly important. As Ari insists, you must “be the guy with the bottle of water.”

To learn more about Ari’s new book visit the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog or the Houston Chronicle and watch for our video interview with Ari. And while we’re on the subject, what is your favorite networking tip?

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