Networking: The ability to make yourself uncomfortable


For true networking to occur one has to give of oneself, and maybe not so ready to be on the take.

Pete KreckelBack when our son Philip was in kindergarten we noticed he never talked about school or about anyone in his class. About three months into the school year we asked him about the kids in his class and what their names were. He responded “Well, there is the girl who cries all the time, there’s a kid in the striped shirt, and then there is “Ben,” but I don’t know the rest of them” After three months of school he knew the name of one kid in his class of 10 students. It just wasn’t a big deal to him. His oldest sister Gretchen was another story. At that age she knew everyone; their siblings, where they lived, and probably what they packed in their lunch!

Other than my brown eyes and last name, my oldest daughter Gretchen didn’t inherit much from me. Heck-- even the last name lasted only about 27 years! Gretchen is her Mom inside out; smart, attractive, charming, and the twinkle in their spouse’s eyes.

Gretchen was in her P-3 year of pharmacy school at Pitt in 2007 when she went to a Kappa Psi convention in Boston. She was hanging out with her usual crew from Pitt, and she noticed a guy in the room she didn’t know. She left her circle of friends and approached the guy and said “Hi, I’m Gretchen Kreckel” He answered back, “Hi, I’m Mark Garofoli.” Gretchen lit up. “Are you any relation to Gary and Jane?” Mark informed her they were cousins.

Their conversation grew into discussions about Jane being her dad’s relief pharmacist. And Gary was the Lilly rep. Mark said that he was a manager of a chain pharmacy in Baltimore, and “how about the next time I’m in Pittsburgh we go out for dinner?” In July of 2011, I gave Gretchen’s hand in marriage to Mark.

Gretchen wanted to do a residency and matched with Virginia Commonwealth University. Under the leadership of the likes of Ron Davis, Kelly Goode (current APhA president), and Kelly Oliver, Gretchen got experiences that even her dad could not have provided in a lifetime in Tyrone, PA! Kelly, Ron, and Kelly set her up for a two-week experience at APhA headquarters in Washington, DC.

After finishing this amazing career-changing opportunity, Gretchen was hired at West Virginia University in the Clinical Pharmacy Department. She set up her clinical site at Waterfront Pharmacy, an independent pharmacy in Morgantown West Virginia. Her networking skills are truly amazing. She knows a lot of people through her job, and the students really appreciate her caring (and sometimes stern) attitude.


So often when we use the term networking we think of “pressing the flesh,” “elevator speeches,” and in general promoting of one’s self. I’ve found that for true networking to occur one has to give of oneself, and maybe not so ready to be on the take. Getting involved in your community and giving back is the most effective way I’ve found to meet those people who can build your career. Get involved in your profession --  take part in county, state, or national organizations – and become that “go to” pharmacist in your community. Getting involved in civic organization, such as youth organizations, chamber of commerce, and your church, is a great way to build trust in your community.

Networking involves the ability to make yourself “uncomfortable,” not sitting with your acquaintances at dinner meetings but by talking with someone you have not met. Everyone is looking for a common thread when they meet someone new. If it is a non-professional meeting I seldom ask people their profession, because it categorizes them too quickly. I’d rather know about their hobbies and passions rather than how they make their money.

Put your smart phone down. Listen twice as much as you talk. Lots of people are looking to meet you!

Pete Kreckelpractices independent community pharmacy in Altoona, Penn. He welcomes your e-mails at

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