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An Interview with Derek Dickow: "Master of Networking"

posted on: Nov 3, 2021

“It’s not what you know, but who you know,” 

By: Leyelle Mosallam / Arab America Contributing Writer

The “Master of Networking” — Derek Dickow — a first-generation Iraqi-Chaldean-American, is making a difference by helping thousands of individuals and organizations make meaningful connections through networking. Dickow is originally from the state of Michigan and has delivered speeches and networking workshops to well-known organizations such as Bell Tire and the Detroit Lions. Soon, he will be hosting a panel on Networking at Arab America’s CONNECT: Empowerment Summit on Saturday, November 13th to provide Arab America’s guests with tips on how to successfully network. 

Networking is a crucial part of developing one’s career. For many, it is difficult to have a successful career even if we have the skills and are smart enough to do so. But, by building meaningful and sustainable relationships people have the ability to get to where they want to be because relationships give individuals creditability. In this interview with Arab America, Dickow delves deeper into the importance of networking and how he developed his successful networking business. 

Why and how did you decide to start a networking business? 

“I formally started my practice as a keynote speaker and executive coach last year after several of my clients in politics encouraged me to share my talents to help others. The way I see it, most people are terrible at networking, some look at it as an insincere and manipulative chore, and then there are the introverts who are petrified of the idea of walking into a room full of strangers. I thought there would be some demand for the topic, and I truly had no idea how great that demand would be until I started sharing my offerings on social media.

I’ve attended more than 2,500 events in my career and developed specific networking expertise in connecting two parties who can benefit from knowing each other. Most of my knowledge on the subject is experience and application. I’ve read books written by experts like Dale Carnegie, Adam Grant, and Keith Ferrazzi, and continue to expand on my expertise once I decided to formalize my offerings. I dove headfirst into learning everything I can on the subject. I then launched a website and started posting on relevant social channels and my business quickly took off.”

How did your Arab American identity and heritage contribute to this decision? 

“My identity and heritage opened up many opportunities for community members to support my work. As a first-generation Chaldean-American, I grew up in a home where hard work, sacrifice, and discipline were important values my parents and relatives instilled in me. I was surrounded by countless examples of family and members of my community working 80 hours a week to achieve their goals. I remember being in grade school when I fell in love with capitalism and the free market free enterprise entrepreneurial spirit America offers to anyone willing to work hard, live right and chase their dreams with everything they have.

According to a 2016 study published in DBusiness Magazine, the Chaldean community contributes more than $10 billion dollars to Michigan’s economy. A good majority of my community own a business and many own multiple businesses. Being an entrepreneur and finding ways to add value to the market, clients, and to the community is a roadmap many immigrants followed. My family, similar to others, started out as merchants in supermarkets and party stores, and then they sent their children to become doctors, lawyers, engineers, and consultants. This is the retelling of the American Dream!”

What are your 5 pillars of purpose-driven networking? Why do you think those 5 are the most important for networking?

“Networking can help anyone achieve their goals both personally and professionally. The 5 Pillars are:

  • Pillar 1: Networking is done before you show up
  • Pillar 2: Network like a pro
  • Pillar 3: Stop selling and start solving
  • Pillar 4: The value proposition
  • Pillar 5: Building contacts for life

I have built my model after more than a decade as a political fundraiser and professional relationship developer. Following each of the 5 Pillars is critical to one’s success and I have numerous success stories of clients that have followed my system to achieve and exceed their goals.”

In what way has your business contributed to the Arab American Community?

“As a speaker, consultant, and executive coach, I find that my practice has contributed to my community in a variety of ways. First, I regularly consult and advise business leaders from a broad spectrum of industries across the country and elected officials at every level in our government about best practices to reach their goals. I also consult how to leverage their network and how to build relationships within the Chaldean and Arab American communities across the country. As an example, I advised a client who went to win a historic election, Hon. Klint Kesto, the first Chaldean elected to the Michigan Legislature. 

Leaders will often call on me to make inroads within the community and I facilitate introductions to our community leaders and help advance relationships beyond a check and certainly beyond an election victory.”

How important do you see the role of networking for Arab Americans? Especially young Arab Americans who are just getting out of college and into the workforce. 

“I believe networking is critical to our success. Most people are smart, many people work hard, but we win in business and in life by developing deeper and sustainable connections with others. These days having a secondary degree barely gets you a seat at the table. We hear the cliche, “it’s not what you know, but who you know,” and stated more appropriately, “what you know is important, but whom you know gives you instant credibility.”

Learn to look at networking as a way to give before you get it. Always keep in mind, in politics and in every stage of business and life, the connection we build with others is what separates us from the masses. Think of networking as a game. Ask yourself how can I advantage of this new contact’s goals? Who can I connect them with? How can I help them with my knowledge,  talents, and more importantly, with my relationships?”

What can Arab America expect from your networking workshop at CONNECT Arab America: Empowerment Summit? How can we use networking to our advantage at the upcoming summit?

“Attendees can expect a high-energy session to kick off this historic summit. I’ll share my top three tips to help attendees network at a high level and the three most important questions you will ever need to know to build your network. In a few minutes, we will forever change your approach to networking, and if done right, you will never need to pass out another business card again. 

I’m also excited to share the stage with one of my mentors and early advisors, Warren David who taught me about sales and relationship building more than 25 years ago.

It’s not lost on me that a man who taught me about networking and hasn’t seen it in a decade, has asked me to participate in this program.

The art of networking is real and it can change lives. You just need to open your mind to the possibilities.

See you on November 13!”

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