Networking on the plane

I was on my way to the NSA (National Speakers Association) conference in San Diego on July 7, 2007 from Belgium, via Philadelphia. In the Philadelphia airport there were some minutes left before boarding and I was looking around. It was at that moment that I saw Charlie Tremendous Jones. I’ve never met him before, but heard him speak on CD’s. He was on my “would be nice to meet” list for the NSA conference.

On that moment however it was not the right time to approach him. I thought I would have a second chance on the airplane.
But then I discovered he was travelling first class and I was in economy. Since he was on my “would be nice to meet” list and not on my “have to meet” list, I let the idea of meeting him go. And I started reading the Little Black book of connections by Jeffrey Gitomer (I always read books about my own topic, networking, to learn from other experts) till… I read page 61. “The only difference between where you are right now, and where you’ll be next year at the same time, are the people you meet and the books you read” by Charlie Tremendous Jones.

 Charlie Tremendous Jones - Jan Vermeiren

 When I read or hear  two times  about the same person in two days, I always contact this person. So how could I do this time? In my own courses I always tell people that the real power of a network is in the second degree so I decided to put this into practice. I asked the stewardess if she could show this page to

Charlie in first class and ask him if he could spare a few minutes with me.
He agreed and as a matter of fact, the seat next to him was empty and he invited me to sit next to him, not for a few minutes, but for more than an hour. In that hour I was able to ask him lots of questions and tap into his wealth of knowledge. I also asked him to fill in the next two pages in the Little Black Book and that’s what he did. He wrote down three books he advised me to read and three people he advised me to meet at NSA.

After he gave me the names we talked some more and he gave me some good advice. I really appreciated his help and after our talk gave him a copy of my book “Let’s Connect!” as a thank you gift and returned to my seat. When we got off the plane we shared a cab to the hotel and he told me that he really liked my book. I thought that he was just nice, but the next day at the NSA conference I saw that he put the book in his booth so people could order it. What a nice consequence of us meeting !

An extra nice touch was two days later when I attended the charity diner. I reintroduced myself to Mark Victor Hanssen (from Chicken Soup for the Soul) and in the middle of my sentence, he asked me: “Are you the guy who was on the plane with Charlie Jones? Let me introduce you to my friend Jack.” And so I met Jack Canfield (co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul and one of the people featured in the Secret), another person of my “would be nice to meet” list.

Mark Victor Hansen - Jan Vermeiren 

Jack Canfield - Jan Vermeiren

I still am surprised from time to time myself what networking can do ! 😉



3 Responses to Networking on the plane

  1. Erik says:

    Great story,it for sure underlines the power of networking!
    Since the people you met are firm believers of networking themselves, I assume that getting in contact is a bit easier than the CEO of any other company.
    Nevertheless if you would not have taken the initiative to approach Charlie you would not have accomplished 3 of your l”ike to meet list” in one trip.
    A lesson to keep in mind.


  2. Mike Nevin says:


    A great story and one that I can relate to! I was similarly on a flight from Cupertino to the UK (in this case I was lucky enough to be in business class because the client was paying the fare!). I settled into my seat and noticed that the guy next to me was reading Melissa Giovagnoli’s book on Networking called ‘Networlding’. So I struck up a conversation, it turns out that this guy had exactly the same problems I had in developing a one man consultancy 2 years ago and he was able to tell me exactly how to get around them (mostly by using Networking as a value add tool!). He gave me some great tips and also introduced me to a fantastic book ‘MoneyBall’ by Michael Lewis

    We had a great conversation which lasted all the way home (12 hours) in the end we had managed to involve all 20 other members of business class on that flight!! I got 4 solid leads for business and the Stewardess serving us said it was the most enjoyable flight she had ever been on bar none. You could really feel the buzz in the cabin as we both experimented by seeing how many connections we could make for mutual benefit between 20 people. We ran out of time at Heathrow with people still chasing us into the arrivals hall with business cards!!

    It was a trip I’ll never forget and I will never forget the guy who helped me that night – Thomas Power one of the greatest networkers I have ever met.

  3. […] One of my favourite networking stories that I tell in my training courses is how I met Charlie Jones on the plane. […]

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