All posts in Networking

Hanging Out in Washington…Virginia

Sometimes people ask me how it is that I know such interesting people and get invited to hang out in wonderful places. I often wonder about the question since I think the answer is clear: I do what I keep telling people in my writing, speaking, consulting, and now in this blog…network and develop relationships with interesting people.

I happen to be writing this in Washington VA, a teeny tiny place in the middle of the beautiful horse and wine country of Virginia. Last night I spend hours with Sweet Honey In The Rock hanging around after they performed a spectacular concert in the magnificent 140 seat theater of The Chateauville Foundation.

How did this happen, I hear you thinking. Well, it started some years ago (things do take as long as they take). I became friends with Paul Reisler… master musician, songwriter, and founder of Kid Pan Alley…through a friend of mine who was on his board and suggested we meet. hmmm, networking?

Next thing you know he’s inviting me to join him at The Summer Gathering, an amazing congregation of people from around the world at Hollyhock in British Columbia. Hollyhock is on a tiny island way north of Vancouver and is one of the more spectacular retreat centers you will ever have the good fortune to visit. (yes, go there)

I like it so much that I’ve returned to the Summer Gathering every year since. And who do I meet there? Ysaye Maria Barnwell, member of Sweet Honey In the Rock.

Then some weeks ago I get a call from Paul. Our friend Richard Russell is coming in from Hawaii to think about how to expand the reach of Kid Pan Alley and they think I should be there and help them out. And, oh by the way, Ysaye and Sweet Honey are going to be right next door for a couple of days.

And so off I go. It’s been an exhilarating several days of continuous thinking about branding and marketing and kids writing songs and Sweet Honey singing away and wandering the unbelievable Chateauville Foundation property watching the zebras. And next time we get together to continue the thinking and planning, we decided that it really ought to be at Richard’s ranch in Hawaii. Who knows who I’ll meet there. February sounds like it might be the perfect time…

My Favorite Honey

My Favorite Honey

Music Tip: Figure you know what it is

What Are They Thinking?

As you might expect, I’m a member of a number of groups. I think of it as research so I can share interesting ideas and stories with all of you. One of the groups I belong to is a group that will remain nameless…for reasons that will become ridiculously obvious. Those of you who figure out what the group is, just keep it to yourself…or whisper in my ear if you must.

This organization was founded to enable executives…in transition…to network with each other and provide support through the job search process. Over the years many members who found jobs stayed involved both to help others and for the camaraderie they had developed. Eventually they started to get folks who wanted to join just to be a member even though they weren’t in job search mode.

I gave a few talks to various parts of the Big Group and next thing I know, I’m a member.

You’re probably wondering why I went into all that. I just wanted to be sure that you got the point that this group is all about networking and connecting with people you like and want to spend more time with.

So imagine how surprised I was to receive an email telling me that the board had asked smaller groups of the organization NOT to have a holiday party. I was flabergasted…and still am which is why I’m writing this little missive. Apparently they think that if small groups of people who have spent huge amounts of time with each other decide to celebrate together it will somehow detract from any big event the organization puts on.

Think about this…a networking organization sending out a note telling you not to network outside the boundaries of their authorized events. Now some of you know that I’m part of The Wharton School among other things. I thought that academia was the height of bureaucracy and hierarchical structure…and then this note came in. Wow.

You all know what I’m thinking. If you have events that people want to attend, they will. If they get a better offer elsewhere…perhaps there’s a message in that somewhere.

This is either a famous quote by somebody whose name I forget or something I once made up but in either case, just remember: If they’re not showing up…throw a better party.

Some weeks ago I did a little talk for Merck. They just sent me a few pictures so I thought I’d share. And yes, there were a whole bunch of people not just the few in the pictures:

Me and Volunteers

Me and Volunteers

Me and More Volunteers

Me and More Volunteers

Pensive Me

Pensive Me

Party Tip: They’re going to party with whoever they want…make your event the place for them to be

Job Hob Nob

Zoe's Flowers

Zoe's Flowers

It’s a dismal Sunday. Actually it’s the third or fourth dismal day in a row. Wet, cold, clammy. So I figured I’d brighten up the post by starting with this picture of my neighbor Zoe’s flowers. I have no idea what they are but every year she plants a big patch and they grow with a wild exuberance and mingling stems and then show passersby a bright face for quite a long time. You often see people stopped to take pictures…as I did just for you.

I find the mingling stems so interesting. Their wild entwining seems to entice random walkers and joggers to stop and smile…and chat if someone else happens to be staring with a similar bemused smile.

All of which I pictured when I happened to be looking through this morning’s newspaper and notice a full page add for…New Job Hob Nob, meet, mingle & match. The entire page was in huge type. It just jumped out at you. So I stopped paging through the paper and read the Job Hob Nob explanation. It almost made me pass out.

Another Zoe Flower Picture To Contemplate While Steve Recovers

Another Zoe Flower Picture To Contemplate While Steve Recovers

It seems that the New Job Hob Nob is a casual networking event done in a whole new way…no booths, no lines, just meet, mingle and match. I couldn’t believe it. Why, someone doing an entire event along the lines that Conversation on Networking has been espousing for years: just get talking in a place where there are appropriate people and things will happen.

It looks to me like the event is sponsored by philly.com/monster…which conjures up some odd images that I leave to your imagination. On the other hand, they’ve clearly been listening to us talk about the best way for people to network and begin to develop great relationships…for job search or other reasons. And if you’d like to Hob Nob, well, Hob Nob.

And to get you in the right mood to be totally ready to land that perfect position, here’s one more picture of Zoe’s flowers to meditate on. And yes, that is part of the wall of her beautiful stone house.

zoes-flowers-1-10091

Fast Track to South Africa…Update!

Steve with bead store

Steve's BeadforLife store

As you might have guessed from the title of this posting…and the picture above…Bernadette Kovaleski (crack development lady at Kimberton Hills) read my last missive and immediately sent me a couple of pictures she took at my famous BeadforLife bead sale. It is just so wonderful what happens when you send out information about what you’ve been doing. People often respond!

Another example of this is how the information about Hope Village in that same posting led to my getting asked if I would be interested in another project in Africa. Two great things dropping on my head from one little blog posting. And notice, I didn’t actually ask for anything…just sent out an interesting (I hope) story about good things I’m doing.

I know what many of you are thinking: I’m not a good storyteller. I don’t have time to do a blog. I can’t write well. Nobody’s interested in what I have to share. And worst of all…nothing ever happens to me worth sharing.

Selling more beads

Selling more beads

I figured you’d like to see a bigger picture of the beads. (Unfortunately you also have to see a bigger picture of me) The beads are quite nice and I have lots of them……

Well…to return to today’s story…it ain’t so. Everyone has things going on that are interesting. They might be big things, like you just got the employee of the year award, or they might be little things, like you just washed your car and the soap made the most amazing pattern…it looked just like Elvis on the hood.

And all of you can be good at telling your own stories. If you think you’re not so good right now, practice. Pick a story and tell it to everyone you meet. Vary how you tell it. Make it longer, make it shorter. Ad lib a little. (it is a story, after all) Maybe do some sound effects or paint a picture with your hands and arms.

Now just keep doing it. And as you do it, start using stories that include a message about something you need, or something wonderful you’re attached to that could use some help. Perhaps you too are doing something to help people improve their circumstances. Share the story. With everyone. You never know which person will become interested in joining your journey.

Amaphelo Day Care Centre...Hope Village

Amaphelo Day Care Centre...Hope Village

Africa Tip: Share Your Story

And if you send it to me…who knows where it will show up.

Fast Track to South Africa

Sometimes the connections move really rapidly. The trick to catching them seems to be having the willingness to drop everything and seize the opportunity. And it often isn’t easy.

Last Saturday I was asked to bring my jewelry from BeadforLife to the annual Camphill Village Kimberton Hills Hoedown. BeadforLife is an amazing organization in Uganda that helps raise people out of poverty and Kimberton Hills is a wonderful community that specifically includes people with disabilities. I happen to know the founders of BeadforLife and be President of the Board of Kimberton Hills. Nice the way that worked out.

There I am, selling beads to random passers by when someone I’ve know a tiny bit comes past and starts chatting with me about a great organization in South Africa that’s doing some things similar to BeadforLife. It’s called Hope Village and is working on building houses for foster mothers who take in aids orphans.

We talk about the similarities of the organizations and they way they teach economic independence while helping people raise themselves from poverty. Quite inspiring.

Next thing I know, Steven Rowell, President of ReConnect and the person I’m talking to, asks if I might want to do a Wharton GCPproject (you might remember that I’m part of Wharton) for Hope Village along the lines of what we did for BeadforLife. (this is a story for another day)

As I sit here 6 days later we’ve raised the funds necessary for the project, set it up, and are going to have a student team work with Hope Village over the next 8 months on branding, marketing, and helping them sell their magnificent leather products in the US.

Wow! Now that’s rapid networking to an amazing result. And it sure took a lot of work by a lot of people to pull it off.

BeadforLife

BeadforLife

Building a Hope Village House

Building a Hope Village House

Random Testamonial

Monday morning started off with me leaving my house about 6 to get to a meeting by 7:30. Some people don’t seem to understand that if an event is worth attending, you want to be there a little early since the best networking conversations tend to happen while people are arriving and just chatting while waiting for things to get going…and you get the pick of the bagels.

I never understand the people who arrive in the middle and leave early, especially when it’s a networking event where everyone gets to introduce themselves. What are they thinking? Perhaps they thought they were going to one of these places advertised in Ecuador.

Fun places in Ecuador

Fun places to eat in Ecuador

Thanks for this picture to Brenda Grove, loyal reader who got my message about sending me stuff. And if you need to know about Villanova University, she’s the person to meet.

So there I am, sitting there minding my own business, when it happens: the Random Testimonial. Chris Shull, IT expert extraordinaire and head of Engaged Impact, stands up and introduces himself and then says “I want to tell you that Steve writes this great monthly newsletter and a blog several times a week. They are great and very helpful.”

How cool is this? You do something and send it around and find that people actually like it and refer you to others. Wow. And not only that, Chris and I were the only people who stood up while introducing ourselves. He really has been listening…and learning how to do a better job at connecting with others.

Why, someone even made a point of mentioning that they were not going to stand up when introducing themselves. What were they thinking? It’s all about making it easy for the other person, not yourself.

Those of you reading closely probably have figured out the Brenda Grove visited Ecuador recently. Seems she found one of my favorite critters wandering around so I leave you with this great picture:

Lunchtime in Ecuador

Lunchtime in Ecuador

Exercise Tip: Stand up more often

It’s Quiet Out There

Every time I start to write this blog the first thing that happens is…I get a report on comments. It gets me really excited because there are always a bunch. One time there were 37! Then I realize that they’re all spam. I have no idea how they do it, but the blog people are amazingly good at recognizing spam.

You’d think I would know by now that the real comments come in randomly with a note to me to approve or delete. But hope springs eternal when I open the blog site. So help me out here. As someone once said, “make my day.”

Many of you probably figure I’m just aggravated about being ignored but that’s not it. I get quite a few regular old e-mails telling me they like to read my random musings on the vagaries of my life…interspersed with some ideas for improving your networking skills. Sometimes I run into people who mention the same thing or start a phone call by saying something nice about the blog.

But they haven’t been paying enough attention! And if you’re one of these people, focus totally (multitasking is a lie) and pay attention right now. Networking is all about getting your name out there in front of people attached to interesting thoughts and ideas…comments. And what better way to do this than to participate in this most excellent blog?

I’m happy to hear all these private comments but…it’s not helping you out at all. I already know you. My readers probably don’t. And they’d like to know you.

Of course, you have to offer interesting, relevant, useful, entertaining, engaging ideas. It takes thought. Thinking before writing, or speaking. Now there’s a great way to improve your ability to connect with people.

Improve Your Reputation Tip: Think, think again, then write…or speak

Normally I’d share a picture with you about here but I’m not much of a photographer, and just using a Blackberry as a camera doesn’t improve my skill. So you’ll just have to stare up into space and imagine whatever it is you’d like to see. Perhaps a picture of yourself sitting at your computer sending me an official comment?

Eat Lunch…Grow

Some of you no doubt think this title refers to expanding your waistline. And for some of you it probably does. Many people seem to think that lunch is a time to supersize it and focus on the plate in front of them rather than the world around them. Hopefully this short missive will disabuse you of this idea….

I’m thinking about this because I had two great lunches this week…and since it’s 6 Wednesday morning that’s a 100% great lunch rate so far this week. Both of these lunches came about because I spoke up at events which led to these two wonderful ladies contacting me and suggesting that we really should meet for lunch. (Now I know what you’re thinking but no, they’re nice married ladies wanting to network. Still no dates for poor me.)

Anyway, the first lunch took me to a wonderful restaurant I’d never visited before. Parc Bistro in case you’re interested. I spent a fun time with Deborah Moses, CEO of Veris Associates. Veris does this sophisticated IT stuff that is way beyond my feeble comprehension but clearly they are experts at helping companies ensure their IT is running at optimum efficiency. I also discovered that she’s married to a giant…but we’ll talk about that some other time.

Next thing I know, Deb got me talking about all the random things I do. (She must have heard me talk about always listening first) I finally got to ask her about Veris. She was very nice to me and used simple words to explain a very complicated subject. And then it happened. To my absolute amazement we discovered a place where we connect which led to Deb wondering if we could do something together! Stay tuned.

Then the next day I was off to one of my favorite places, Cedar Hollow Inn, to meet Dale Power, President of Big Shoes!. Now before you complain, that last period isn’t a mistake. Big Shoes! is the actual name. Jumps right out at you, doesn’t it? Must be a networking message in there somewhere. Dale is an exceptional coach for small and medium sized business leaders. (The businesses are small and medium sized, not the leaders. She’ll coach all sized people.)

We have a nice chat about our backgrounds, share ideas about the perfect client, and discuss our thoughts on how to build a successful business…particularly from the branding/marketing/communication perspective. Next thing I know, she’s asking me for some help with something and I’m off on a new adventure.

And all because I spoke up and focused on the person and not the plate.

View out my back window...I wish   (pciture courtesy of Ian Grant)

View out my back window...I wish (picture courtesy of Ian Grant)

Lunch Tip: The reason for being at lunch is sitting across from you…not filling up your plate.

Ask…Your Network Knows

My house...really
My house…really

It’s been a rainy few days…as you can see from the above picture. Since it’s a weekend, I’ve been hanging out by myself in my house in the woods. After all the people things I do all week, I generally recover by just hanging around with myself when I can.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with this posting but as I started to write it occurred to me that many of you could probably use a break from whatever you do all the time. Since I’ve noticed that people often seem to need permission to do things they really should just do…I hereby give all of you permission to just do nothing for a bit. Enjoy yourself.

Now about that title up there. A few days ago a I received a call from a friend and business associate. He remembered that I am associated with the Wharton School and wondered if I might know some bright MBA students who would be interested in doing some market research for him. We talked a little bit about what he needed and off I went to help him out. By the way, calls really are nice if you’re going to ask for help, so much more personal, and…harder to turn down than an e-mail.

Within a couple of days of sending out a note to the students in the Wharton Global Consulting Practicum (my program) I had a couple of good prospects and sent them along. I’m pleased to report that they passed the test and are now going in to see about the project.

Why do I share this story? Well, I’ve notice that people don’t seem to understand that the people they know aren’t mindreaders. Of course, if you happen to know one of those people who advertise as psychics, maybe you do, but I’m pretty sure most of us don’t. You have to tell people what you’re looking for.

There’s an interesting thing about networking: it generally isn’t the people you know who can help you, it’s the people who the people you know know. (I loved writing that sentence and so am going to just leave it out there for you to contemplate)
Stream by my house...staring at it helps clear your mind

Stream by my house...staring at it helps clear your mind

Save Your Mind Tip: Take some time and do nothing

In The Pharma World

Yesterday I had the great fun of doing a Show for the Merck Women’s Network. Notice the amazingly wonderful name of the group. To get it organized, we had some great discussions about the issues shared by women at Merck and how they figured I could help out with some of them. Yup, they stroked my ego…which is certain to get me engaged.

So imagine my surprise to see a man walk into the room and sign the attendance sheet. And then a few more! We wound up with 4 men interspersed among a huge group of women. I must admit I was disappointed to realize that I would not be the only fellow locked up in the room but when I got over that, I discovered something very cool…men are welcome to participate in the Merck Women’s Network!

I’ve presented the Show both by myself and along with Kay to a number of women’s groups. In all the other cases…women only. Part of my intro is to let them know that I am willing to take any all questions including those that begin “why are men so stupid about……..” or “why do men do those dumb things when…..” It’s their chance to ask those questions that usually stay hidden. Generally a few of these questions pop up during the ensuing Show.

With a women’s group the Show seems to follows a somewhat different path than with a mixed group. There clearly are differences in the dynamic and energy. In the Merck case, I think it was somewhere in the middle although over on the women only side…mostly the dynamic of an all women group with one or two male things thrown in. Quite interesting for me to observe.

So what does all this mean for you, loyal readers? Well, it got me thinking about context and culture and how you need to modify the way you interact and connect with people depending on circumstances. We all do this all the time…mostly without any conscious thought attached.

But, that doesn’t have to be the case. I encourage you to notice the way you change how you find, meet, and engage with people depending on the situation. Observe your unconscious behavior. Now there’s an exercise requiring some practice: observing your unconscious behavior. Be adventurous. Go forth and try it out. Watch yourself act without and direction from your conscious mind. And after noticing how you change naturally…and how it affects your iteractions…try adding in some some changes by design.

Notice how your changes change the way others approach you, connect with you, or leave in a hurry. Have fun with it. After all, the process of finding, meeting, and developing great relationships with new people should be an exhilirating experience. And it might give you an idea about how to drive away those pesty people that just won’t leave you alone. Enjoy.

Thought Tip: Become more conscious.

Haleakala Warning...by unconscious sign painter

Haleakala Warning...by unconscious sign painter