All posts in Networking

Use Your Relatives

road-sign-invisibility021-ngorongogo-crater-tanzania

It’s funny the way we often forget that the people we know best, our close relatives, are a great resource for networking. Believe it or not, they know other people! And some of those other people just might be the person you’ve been desperate to meet…even if you didn’t realize it.

I got thinking about this as I drove home from dinner at my sister’s house last night. My niece and nephew happened to be there…with a plan to take advantage of their uncle Steve it turned out. My niece recently ended a 3 year stint as a super salesperson for Tiffany’s. She figured it’s time to use her degree in communication and her outgoing personality to do something more than sell expensive jewelry.

My nephew just graduated with a degree in journalism with a particular interest in sports. Actually he’s a ridiculously crazy sports nut. Even though he worked for the Boston Globe during college and has articles published in slouchy newspapers such as the New York Times, it’s a tough business to break into.

They were very clever as they took turns subtlety mentioning how I was a great networker and knew lots of people…then building up to some random comments about how hard it is to meet people who might have good jobs available. They mentioned to other people at dinner how they both had these great resumes designed to perfectly describe their excellent skills and work experience…making sure I was listening, of course.

It wasn’t til dinner was over that they actually got around to directly asking me to help them out with some spectacular introductions. I have to tell you, I was incredibly impressed with how they built up to the Big Ask.

While thinking about this on my way home it occurred to me how valuable relatives are for this sort of thing. They know you, they want you to be successful, they want to help you, and most importantly they want you to get a good job so they won’t have to support you or lend you any more money. And if it’s parents they really want to use your room for an office or workshop.

So look around, think about all your relatives, tell them what you’re doing and what you’re looking for. You never know if they just happen to have a friend from the bowling league who was asking them about that very topic while trying to encourage them to bowl a perfect game.

Oh, before I end, if you happen to be looking for an absolutely exceptional, intelligent, educated, experienced, reliable, outgoing, friendly, knowledgeable person to help you out with sales or marketing or communications or publications or most anything along those lines, let me know. I just might have the perfect person for you.

In All Kinds of Weather

Many people think networking is an intellectual activity. You go someplace, meet some people, talk to them, and…walla…networking happens. And sometimes it’s like that. But often networking is like searching out the elusive treasure, trailing along with Harrison Ford as he looks for the fabled lost city. And then networking can be a dangerous activity that takes place under horrible conditions.

Why just this past Saturday I was dragged out to a corporate golf outing by Shaun Mannix, friend and client and President of Transwall Systems. Seems he had reserved a seat for me on his cart for the annual Transwall outing since he figured I’d like to meet their vendors and other friends who were going to attend.

Friday it poured. It rained so much that my neighbors were using boats to get the mail. The ground was beyond wet. And they predicted water would be gushing from the clouds all night and into Saturday. So I did what any normal person would do…clearly forgetting that most golfers are not normal…and sent a note asking (and hoping) it was postponed.

But no, I was told that Transwallpeople are tough. (and apparently part duck) So off I go. Here I am in the middle of the round:

Steve braving the elements in hopes of networking

And you know what? We had a great time! There is definitely something to be said for shared adversity as a marvelous way to ensure networking success.

So take advantage of the next time you’re stuck on the runway for 12 hours; instead of staring out the resort window at a torrential downpour…wander around and talk to the other miserable vacationers; and never ever look out your bedroom window and decide it’s too hot, too cold, too dark, too wet, too snowy to go off and show up and meet those people waiting for you.

Perfect golf networking weather

Eagle Eyed Readers

I received a few e-mails about my last posting. Interestingly, there were no posted comments. So before I get to the reason for the title up there at the top, I thought I’d mention something about comments that pertains to…networking.

As all of you know, the first part of networking is actually getting to meet someone new. All the rest…the part that we mostly talk about…is about how to develop, maintain, strengthen, and expand existing relationships. Relationships that you already have. We spend more time on this part of networking since most people already know lots of people and do a fairly lousy job of…developing, maintaining, strengthening, and expanding. You know who you are!

Finding the new next great connection is a lot harder. Starting a conversation with a total stranger is difficult. Having a fantastic conversation with a total stranger is even more unusual. But all connections with new people start out the same way…one of you does something that intrigues the other one and gets the two of you talking.

One of the easiest ways to get this connection going is to do something that stands out and grabs the attention of all those around you. In my case, I yak on in The Newsletter, deliver a plethora of talks, strike up conversations with random people (see the last posting for ways to do this), co-wrote The Book, and, of course, send out Steve’s Blog. And I work hard at reminding everyone to forward my writings to friends and colleagues and buy hundreds of copies of The Book while waiting for the The Next Book. (yes, this is a baldfaced plug for you to do this…so go ahead and forward this blog to a friend)

Most of you don’t have these ways of reaching out to new people but you all have the ability to post comments on blogs and such and have people read your thoughts. Hopefully your thoughts are interesting, relevant, conjent, concise, and even a little humorous. (note: yelling “you lie” at the President on national television is not what I’m talking about…although it is concise)

Or you could stand up and ask a question at a public forum that’s interesting, relevant, cojent, concise, and even a little humorous. In either case, you get to mention who you are and have lots of people notice that you’re an interesting person they should get to know. Private e-mails to someone you already know are great for developing, maintaining, strengthening, and expanding relationships but not so hot for getting new ones going.

Which brings me back to where I started this note, my thoughts about some comments I received about the last posting…that’s comments as in private conversations and e-mails rather than nice publicly posted comments on this blog.

First, some eagle eyed readers noticed that I mentioned that I asked Dr Tanuj Gupta if he was related to the television Dr Gupta, but never gave you the answser….which is: no. Oh well, not as interesting an answer as we all hoped.

Second, remember that if you have a question about something you read or a talk you go to, a bunch of other people will have the same questions and be just as unlikely to ask it as you are. Do yourself and them a favor…ask it publicly so all can hear the answer. You never know who will contact you to thank you and become…your next great new connection.

Figured you might like to see Ian Grant from whom I’ve lifted a few photos…it’s nice for me that relatives let you get away with such things.

On Glacier in Switzerland

Ian on Glacier in Switzerland

I have no idea how he took this picture of himself!

Finally, there is a third thing. I was asked what happened to the Tip last posting. I have no idea other than brainfreeze on my part so….

Brainfreeze Tip: If it’s your fault…say so

Bonus Tip: Use all opportunities to get your name in front of people…you never know who will respond

Philly Bound

As you know from my last missive, I was in Omaha Nebraska. All I was expecting from my return trip was the horrible mess of flying back in the bedlam of a holiday weekend. I actually spent my entire Labor Day in airports or airplanes.

As I settled into my window seat (USAirways 725 seat 19F in case you’re interested) in what was to be a totally packed flight I was thinking how unfortunate it was that I couldn’t get a first class seat. But I had committed that error I often mention to you, most devoted readers…having a pre-conceived notion of what was to occur.

Luckily I had my eyes open and was watching what was going on instead of having my nose buried in a book working hard to ignore everything around me. So I happened to see that the people getting ready to sit next to me were squashing a Wharton bag into the overhead bin.

Of course it gave me the opportunity to use a perfect opening line, “what do you do at Wharton? I’m there too.” There’s always some line you can use to start a conversation if you pay attention.

I find out that my seatmate Dr Tanuj Gupta has just started the Wharton Executive MBA program. I mention that I’m part of the MBA marketing department and among other things run Africa for the Wharton Global Consulting Practicum. Tanuj mentions that he is investigating participating in GCP. We’re off and running on a wonderful conversation.

His wife Dr Rupal Pinto (yup, two doctors) is the other person sitting with us. Turns out she’s in a pediatric residency at St Christopher’s Hospital. So we have a nice conversation about medical residencies. We are having such a great time we forget we’re in an airplane…and you know how hard that is.

By the end of the flight I even seem to have made a good impression somehow since Tanuj mentioned that he is now even more interested in putting a GCP team together. Wait until he finds out that I was serious about how much work it is.

And that Dr Gupta, he is so over-educated. He has an IT degree, is an MD, runs a unit for Astra Zeneca, and now is getting a Wharton MBA. Makes me tired just thinking about it. And yes, I did ask him if he’s related to that Dr Gupta who spouts medical wisdom on television.

Since I’m not much of a photographer…as those of you who have looked at the pictures I’ve taken with the silly camera in my mobile phone know…I forgot to take a picture of them to show you. So I figured I’d just give you a nice picture of the sign my most excellent SAAB mechanic has in front of his shop. His name is Cliff Story and for those of you wondering…he really does use saabstory as his e-mail address.

Steve's SAAB mechanic's sign

Have to be good to have a sign like this and still be packed with business

New Blog Feature!

Quite a few of you who are reading my random musings about networking and my life also get our monthly newsletter Conversation On Networking. This link will take you to the archive if you haven’t been reading this most excellent work. In which case you really should sign up.

By the way, we’re creating a brand new and improved Conversation on Networking which will debut soon! There’s a race going on to see whether all the people working on it drive me even crazier before I push them over the edge. Stay tuned.

Here’s a picture of me fueling up for the task:

steve-and-gas-pump

I’m off in Omaha Nebraska for my nephew’s wedding. I used to have a great client here so spent quite a bit of time in Omaha…which is a really fantastic place for all of you smirking away right now. My nephew and his soon to be actually live in North Dakota but that’s a story for another day. Suffice it to say that if you use any Microsoft products and they crash on you…it’s his fault!

When I realized that I was coming out this way, I re-established contact with an old friend I hadn’t seen in a few years. We’d stayed in touch sporadically (which is plenty with old friends) but had only actually seen each other once in the last 15 years. But staying in touch really paid off: he’s a member of this nice old golf club so I filled my free time wandering around the course with him. (now there’s a great staying in touch benefit)

Kirk…his name in case you didn’t get it…tells me about his new job. The fun thing about his story is that he got the job through…networking and staying in touch. But you probably guessed this already. Seems that a few years ago he networked to a recruiter when he was looking to change his situation. The recruiter found him an opportunity or two but Kirk wound up going in a different direction…but stayed in touch with the prospective employer he found most interesting.

A couple of months ago he decided he needed a change, called this old potential employer, and within 3 days was offered a great job…which he accepted immediately, of course.

By now you probably thought I forgot about the New Blog Feature. But I just got sidetracked for a minute. The loyal Newsletter readers I mentioned way back at the beginning of this posting wondered how come there aren’t any Tips in this blog. So…our new feature…Tips. And now for the first one:

Inaugural Tip of Steve’s Blog: Once you’ve found those great people…stay in touch.

Moon Over Omaha

Moon Over Omaha

Braindead

I happened to see this cartoon the other day. It reminded me of stories I hear from people all the time. Of course, they’re telling me about their experiences attending Networking Events…those events where before you even arrive you’re on notice that You Will Meet People.

The pressure builds as you go to the meeting place. It intensifies as you enter the room and see it filled with people…all of them looking at the door as you, the fresh meat, enter. So you do what many people do: wander around grabbing cards and handing our yours without really having any deep conversation with anyone…except for people you already know, of course.

Hence…the cartoon:

pepper-and-salt-day-of-meetings2

Such a large amount of wasted time and energy. Most people just aren’t capable of meeting huge numbers of people in a short time. At least not if they want to remember anything about any of them.

So don’t become this cartoon. Please don’t become this cartoon. Don’t allow yourself to fall into the quantity over quality trap.

Pick your events carefully…and then set a goal for yourself. I think 2 or 3 good new connections is about right for most people. Or maybe it’s just deepening 2 or 3 relationships you already have with people who seem like the right people for you to know better.

Relax, relieve the pressure, have fun, enjoy yourself, and leave knowing that one new great person who is just right for you. And for all you single people reading this…yup, does sound exactly like you might find a date. Now if I could only follow my own advice………

Networking For Work

I just returned from a trip to Tulsa Oklahoma. Left Philadelphia at 6 Thursday morning and landed about 11. My client picked me up at the airport, talked non-stop until dropping me off at the hotel around 9:30, and I was on an airplane back at 6 Friday morning.

So what? you might be asking yourself. I mention this short trip because it reminded me of something I recently received courtesy of Joanne McCool, an old friend and business associate. She sent me something mentioning that recent public and private date show that at least 60% of people land jobs through networking.

Wow! All the ways to find jobs and 60% find a job through the people they know…and the people the people they know know.

So what does this have to do with my trip to Tulsa? Well, I haven’t done any work for this particular client for 5 or 6 years. He left one position where he was CEO … and where he needed me…for a new opportunity. Unfortunately, this new opportunity was such that he found himself Steveless for all these years.

But we stayed in touch. Even though he was a thousand miles away we chatted occasionally or e-mailed interesting news.

And then it happened. He needed some help and…yup…it required yours truly. And with a little luck, what we discussed will require some more help from your humble scribe.

So stay in touch, expand your opportunity possibilities by expanding your network of friends and acquaintances. It really does take as long as it takes…but you need to be front of mind when the opportunity finally arrives.

Thought you might enjoy seeing the brand new full body scanners you’re subjected to in Tulsa. No more need to visit the doctor for an MRI.

TSA agent looking for contraband...or just wanting his body.

TSA agent looking for contraband...or just a peek under his clothes.

Multiple Worlds

I’ve had a few conversations recently where I felt like we speaking different languages…even though I knew it all was in English. Then, when I was in Peru recently, I had the experience of having someone talking to me in Quechua (the Inca language) and feeling that I knew exactly what they were talking about. It got me thinking.

I’ve been thinking about focus a lot lately. How focus determines the life we experience. There is so much going on that any one person can only focus on so much…and what you focus on becomes your reality. Where you place your attention creates your reality.

And your reality is just that…yours. And the next person has a different reality, perhaps greatly different or perhaps only a tiny bit askew from yours. It seems to me herein lies the great problem of effective communication…and networking. Seperate realities masquerading as the same. We really are all living in our own universe with its own past, present, and future. Yet we act as if we’re all on the same page.

So here’s a little exercise to get yourself primed to connect with someone else, to enter their universe, their reality: Completely empty your mind and totally focus on the other person. Become them.

This is so zen I can hardly stand it…but, it works. Be them. Experience their world, their universe, the place they keep their focus and attention. A little hint for your own self preservation is that you probably want to try this out first with some really cheerful people.

By the way, observant readers probably noticed that the header now has my full name in nice big letters. It seems that some people have been reading this exceptional blog and getting me confused with other people. Apparently they just couldn’t believe that this wondrous prose and these insightful observations really could be mine. Well…focus your attention and enter my world…

Pay Attnetion...the important stuff is always hard to see

Pay Attention...the important stuff is always hard to see

Consultants Needing Consulting

There I was, at the monthly meeting of a bunch of consultants of various types. It was 7 in the morning and I had driven an hour to get there. Since I’ve been part of this group for awhile, I knew some of the people milling around waiting for the food to arrive. However, as usual, there were quite a few new faces.

As I greeted people I noticed an embarrasing thing: most people were not wearing nametags. How could this be? Experienced, professional consultants at a networking event wandering around incognito. And all talking about how they sure could use some more work. Hmmm. Perhaps a connection?

So we finally sit down at this nice U shaped table…squashed since as usual the location doesn’t seem to understand that people really do have elbows…to do some introductions and chat about ways we improve our efficiency. I glance around…yup, only 6 or 7 nametags out of 25 or 30 people.

The first person starts talking and mentions that he is going to stand up. So he does and, as you all know, it is incredibly more effective as a way to introduce yourself. Others follow and stand until some woman defiantly says that she is not going to stand up. Of course, no one can see her and it is very difficult to follow what she says. Why do people aggressively refuse to do those things that they have just seen improve your ability to connect with people? To network more effectively?

Frankly, when I’m someplace and someone is introducing themselves and makes it so difficult for me to see them and hear anything they say, I find myself thinking of Calabasas California. And I just happen to have this nice picture of Calabasas. Feel free to join me here during ineffective introductions.

Retreat to Calabasas...yup, my favorite photographer Ian Grant

Retreat to Calabasas...yup, my favorite photographer Ian Grant

Wear Your Message

I received an interesting response to our August Conversation On Networking Newsletter. Chris Shull (shown in a cool picture at the Great Wall) sent me a note about really always wearing your message. Nice to know someone out there is reading our little monthly missive.

Anyway, it seems that he always tries to wear a t-shirt with some interesting message on it. Apparently he was in the tall and skinny weight class as a wrestler at Penn…before you complain, he said that, not me. He’s wearing his Penn wrestling shirt (reliving his lost youth no doubt) around the house when off he goes on an errand.

On the way he stops at a local garage sale (he’s always out for a bargain in addition to being tall and skinny). Turns out the garage sale holder also wrestled for Penn! One thing led to another and now Chris has a new friend who just happens to be a regional manager for Target.

Did I mention that Chris just happens to be a big deal IT expert who’s always looking for a new gig? I wonder if Target has any IT?

As Chris says, “bottom line — wear the t-shirt, lapel pin, or carry the umbrella. And take advantage of those opportunities that come up.”

By the way Chris, in that cool picture at the Great Wall…you’re wearing a plain old white shirt.

Buildings at Cajamarca airport
Buildings at Cajamarca airport

Readers seemed to like my picture of the computer store so I’ve enclosed another picture from Cajamarca. It was overcast so my silly little mobile phone took a lousy picture but you get the idea…Cajamarca is one small place.