Sunday, December 31, 2006

Joani and Danny

Last night Steve and I attended my friend, Joani Algiere's wedding. It was really fun, because it didn't follow the boring wedding style that seems to permeate today's world. Joani wore a beautiful black coaktail dress. She couldn't pretend to be the young, wide-eyed innocent and wanted to wear what really made her feel comfortable. Joani's mom, Marge Brown, the Mayor of Oregon, Ohio, was co-officiant of the ceremony. When she first addressed the couple, she said, "Joani and Danny..." That brought a laugh from everyone, because Dan is a very good lookin' 70 year old, but I would never address him as Danny.

The best man involved all of us in the toast. He is very funny, and he and Dan were in a team-building business together for years. Dan is Mr. Clean and the best man (I can't remember his name at this point.) is the other side of the odd couple. During the toast, when the B/Man pointed at us, we were all to shout, "However!" He allowed all us of to be participants in this event.

I got to thinking about networking events and how getting people involved makes for a better time for all. I think I do a pretty good job of this, but I can always do better. So for '07, I am making a commitment to have as many people as possible feel like they are an important part of every event we sponsor this year.

Do you have any suggestions as to what I can do to make this occur?

Saturday, December 30, 2006

What to Do?

Last week, Steve and I were at a holiday party. During conversation, one of the guests used an ethnic slur. Neither of us knew the guest before the party, and we both let it pass, but the same thing can happen during any networking event. I feel that I should have said something, but couldn't wordsmith the right response that would have allowed the offender to listen as opposed to becoming defensive. I took the cowardly way out. I don't feel so good about that.

What would you have done?

Friday, December 29, 2006

Massage Time

Today I got my monthly massage -- not a bad way to end the week. I reflected on the fact that Karen Shulman has been my massage therapist for the past 12 or 13 years. When I moved to Toledo, from Detroit, I continued getting monthly massages with a new therapist. Unfortunately, she developed breast cancer and had to let her clients move to other therapists. At that point I happened to be serving on a board with Karen, and while we were not yet fast friends, I decided she was the one to get my business.

What I love about Karen is her mind. She is a "drop-out" from the corporate world, and has business sense about her. We spend the whole time chatting which is just as relaxing for me as the physical massage. She also has a great sense of humor and in fact has written a book about her mother, entitled "I Never Meant to be Funny." Some of the stories are just smile funny and others are uproarious gut-busters. She donates some of the proceeds to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in honor of her mom's triumph over the disease. This book is not a story about cancer (well maybe one story hints at it), but a friend has taken her copy to her chemo treatments to read to everyone there to give them a laugh.

Do you know someone that needs a laugh? This book should get the corners of their mouth curving up.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Nixon and Relationships

A tidbit of history that I did not know came to light with the death of former US President, Gerald Ford. Evidently when then President Nixon faced the replacement of Vice President Spiro Agnew, he had four finalist to choose from: John Connally, Nelson Rockefeller, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. Nixon choose Ford because he said, "Personal factors enter into such a decision," Mr. Nixon recalled for a Ford biographer in 1991. "I knew all of the final four personally and had great respect for each one of them, but I had known Jerry Ford longer and better than any of the rest."

Wow! My memories of Richard Nixon are of a cold, unfriendly man. I would not tie the word relationship to him at all, but evidently there was a human in side that skin, one who valued people and friendship.

Is there a person you've changed your mind about in regard to how open and friendly they really are?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Best Line

In the Certified Networker course, one of the CDs we listen to is called Standing in the Middle of a Referral by BNI Director, Alice Ostower. This audio is packed with information of how to develop referrals for networking partners. The best suggestion that Alice makes is very near the end of the recording, when she shares, "When you have someone on the phone, you can say, 'Before I hang up, who can you recommend that does ___________?'"

By using this phrase, you are asking the person at the other end to help you to make better connections and you are letting them know that you consider them the authority in this matter. It also helps you to work on behalf of your networking partners at a higher level. So many times, a business acquaintance will ask for help, but if we can't immediately answer that request, we just let it go. Instead, attach a sticky note with the request written on it to the phone . That way, each person you talk to can receive the question. Before you know it you may have developed a referral for the person you had not been able to help in the past.

Starting January 4th, when my BNI chapter resumes meetings, I am going to use this technique each week, choosing just one person per week to try to develop more referrals.

What commitments are you going to make to your networking acquaintances?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Mayor Fights Brain Drain

Here in Toledo, OH, the mayor, Carty Finkbeiner, garners a lot of attention by his concern with "brain drain." Young people leave the city when they graduate college. Carty wants that to stop. Carty's style is to be very much a bully so I am sure it just drives him crazy that he can't just tell them what to do, as he does every city employee.

In a post written by Drew, he wrote about shopping styles. Many people buy what they want instead of buying what the recipient wants. How does this tie to Carty? He had a well publicized meeting yesterday with a little over 100 young people in attendance who answered his survey about how to keep them in Toledo. What did he do? He showed them a video about what he's been doing for the city. As I read the article in the paper, I thought to myself, "my god, he's got the surveys. Why didn't he create a new video, instead of using a leftover, that addressed their wants and needs." More entertainment, jobs, etc. But no, he gave what he wanted, not what they wanted.

Exercise Networking?

I just arrived back from our local "Y" as I decided I better get there today, because I probably won't get the for the next two days. I really don't like going on Sundays because it is so crowded and today was no exception.

One thing I just can't figure out is why people like to talk while they are working out. I just want to get there, do my run through of the machines and get out of there. Maybe it is because I don't particularly like to workout -- I just know that I need to do it. I have a goal, and that is to get done as quickly as I possibly can. Others are just jabbering away and I am truly mystified.

Can anyone clue me in to the phenomia of networking and working out??????

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Today is for Cooking

Today, I will spend a good portion of the day getting ready for Christmas Day when my two sons and their families will arrive. Now I have to tell you that dietary needs do make for complications. We have one who cannot eat dairy, a vegetarian, those who are averse to fish, and some who dislike other things like olives, raisins and probably something I've forgotten. What is neat is that no one complains -- they just eat what is appropriate for them. That said I am the mom, so I do prepare three different entrees for Christmas dinner. Now you understand why this is a cooking day!

You probably think that food is the centerpiece of our time together and while it is important, it is not what I love. We actually play stupid board games, put a 1500 piece jig saw puzzle together and sometimes even color with the kids. If I didn't get any other gift for Christmas this would be enough. Taking time to relax, to talk, to play happens so little in my world, especially with the kids. It's not their fault, it's really not anyone's fault. It's just our world.

So in advance I want to thank my kids for giving me the gift of being able to laugh till my gut hurts from playing Cranium.

What is your favorite gift from your family?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

My Gift to Sprocket

It is not easy for me to write this. Yesterday morning I decided that it was time to put our 17 year old cat, Sprocket, to sleep. I have been feeling that it was time for several weeks, but I was just trying to deny the situation. She just kept getting thinner and thinner and most pathetic. I couldn't let her go on.

Steve and I took her at the end of the day for her final ride in the car. She has been a fine cat, very much a queen in a household of loud, big smelly dogs and other cats. The dogs knew who was boss and it wasn't any of them. Sprocket had really sharp claws!

How this connects with networking is that it's about relationships. We love the vets we use. They are country vets. Not too expensive and while they love animals, they understand that they are animals. I do like one of the vets much better than the other. He's personable, remembers names, and shows that he really likes your pet as much as you do. Yesterday it wasn't his day to work and we got the vet who is more a clinician. He is very good at what he does, but he does not know my name, nor does he remember anything about us. (Believe me, even though their rates are reasonable, we have certainly contributed to their success over the years. He should know us!) On the way home cradling Sprocket's body in my lap, I felt badly that I hadn't thought ahead to ask which vet was on duty. I would have felt much better about Doc Martin's loving touch.

Isn't that what relationships are all about?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Networking Goals

I don't think I've mentioned this before. I realized early in the fourth quarter of this year when class registrations were not at the level I wanted, that I had been working in my office way too much. I was spending time in the cave getting valuable stuff done. However...I forgot my priorities -- do I want a clean desk (which will never happen) or do I want full classes? Having become clearer on the purpose of what I do, I decided to take a page from my sales history.

I would plan to have 10 networking appointments per week.

Since about the middle of fall I've been focusing on that one goal. It is pretty amazing to me as to how it changes my mind set. I had gotten lazy. I wasn't going to some networking meetings. I wasn't pushing myself to schedule appointments while at networking meetings. I was just skimming the surface. But not now! No sirree!

If an appointment cancels, I try to immediately fill it with another person. If I really don't feel like going to a networking event, especially ones at the end of the day, I give myself a pep talk and go anyway. I also send the list of people I've met each week to my training team. They are my accountability partners. That step also forces me to review how well I did towards meeting the goal.

As I move into '07, there is one resolution in place. This one says, "Continue to meet with ten people per week."

What are your secrets to success?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Seth's Words on Jargon

Seth Godin talks about how people don't buy from sales people when sales people use industry lingo. I teach the BNI Membership Success Program in NW Ohio. We spend time during this two hour training working on the 60 second commercials that BNI members deliver during the weekly meeting so that other members of the chapter know the type of referrals needed.

The members are taught to talk in very simple terms, but I can place a bet each time I teach, that several participants will say something like, "One thing I offer is multi-angled annuaramities." Now, for those of you ready to google that term, it is made up. But as soon as I hear a phrase like that, I stop the class and ask everyone else if they know what the term means. Again I can bet the farm, that all or almost all will have no idea what the person is talking about.

The sad part is that I'm one of the few people who will say, "Gosh, I have no idea what you just said." The even sadder part is that those who don't understand just don't do anything. Their minds clicks, "Next!"

What really mind pondering lingo have you heard recently?

Help Goes Both Ways

Once per month I give a short talk about networking to clients of Right Management Consultants, a firm that assists former employees of their client companies to position themselves to find new careers. Recently, one man talked about how difficult it is for him to ask friends and acquaintances for help. He said, "I have helped so many people through the years, but it is really hard for me to ask now." I hope I provided food for thought with my comments. I asked him how he felt when he was able to help others. Of course he said that doing so felt very good. I then asked him if he realized that by not asking for help he was keeping his friends from having those very same feelings. He said, "That never occurred to me!"

Networking is like that. Good networkers help others first, but they remember that one-sided relationships are not healthy. Allowing others to help is a huge facet of networking!

Is it easy for you to ask for help?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Networking Menu

Today, I am organizing menus for the holiday when my children and grandchildren will be here. It boggles my mind that as a young mom, I used to be able to put meals together at the drop of a hat. Now that Steve and I are alone, dinner is as likely to be catch as catch can. Ever so often one of us makes a real meal, but I have to admit that I may be out of practice just a bit. That's why places like Let's Dish do so well in today's society!

But anyway, as I was laughing to myself about my lack of skills in the meal preparation area, I thought about networking in the same way. I don't know about you, but sometimes I feel kind of rusty when I attend an event when I haven't been out there on the networking line in awhile. I forget to smile and approach people instead of waiting for them to approach me. I'm never really comfortable at big group type events, but the longer between each event, the more awkward I feel. I guess networking is much like working out. If not done regularly, it is not second nature.

Steve and I are going to a holiday party later this afternoon, so I'll be exercising my networking muscles.

Am I the only one who experiences this, or do some of the rest of you have these feelings?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

You Know What Bugs Me?

I feel out of sorts today. I hate unseasonable warm Decembers. I want snow, not just for Christmas, but I want snow for winter. But now that I have that out of my system, that's not what bugs me!

What bugs me is people who attend networking events without their appointment book with them. Now I ask you, is that stupid or not? Those in the know, understand that they are not going to sell anything at a networking event. Instead they are on the lookout for people they want to get to know better -- LATER. Later means an appointment where the two people can carry on an intelligent conversation, not drowned out by music, other conversations or even other interruptions.

Within the last several weeks, I made an appointment with a person who did not have his calendar with him. He promised he would remember. Well you know the end of the story. I drove 30 minutes to the meeting, only to be stood up. When we talked later this person didn't even seem fazed by the fact that yes, he had forgotten my appointment, and that he had robbed me of scare time.

So, please be on notice. At a networking event, I will not schedule an appointment with you unless I can actually see your appointment book.

Is there anything that really bugs you in the networking world?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Have You Heard of Talkshoe?

My friend, Deanna Tucci Schmitt, BNI Western PA, told me about Talkshoe, a website that allows for people to record conversations, presentations, educational session, etc. for free. Currently there is no advertising associated with a recording, but in the future there will be. I'm game!

Several years ago I tried to go the "teleclass" route with bridge lines. I would advertise the class, usually an hour in length, both online and I would market traditionally to the surrounding area. They were only somewhat successful. Where talkshoe is different is the recording. People can either just listen or they can dial in to become an interactive part of the session. Sort of like an old fashioned talk show. Once the show is over, it is listed on the talkshoe website for downloading. People visiting the site can choose to listen or download the podcast (recording) to a listening device (like an I-pod).

Deanna and I are going to do this with networking being the central theme. We will build visibility, credibility and hopefully recognition. But in my opinion we need to add a little something extrato gain a following. Maybe we should have a good girl/bad girl routine.

Give us some ideas. What should our shtik be?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Worst Job Question

Here in NW Ohio, I teach the Member Success Program for BNI. Monday night this week a new class was in attendance. They seemed kind of stiff, so I decided to handle introductions a little differently. Using a Scott Ginsberg question from his downloadable "55 Great Questions to Ask Someone Your Just Met" I used his, "What was the worst job you've ever had?" By the time the intros were done, everyone was laughing and much more relaxed. Training proceeded in a much more casual mode, both for them and for me.

Thanks, Scott, you make my life so much easier having your wisdom in it!

What ways have you used to get to know individuals in a group very quickly?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Comment on Charitable Giving

Since my first post today is about charitable giving, it was interesting to find Seth Godin had written in the same vein today. He talked about a company that sends $8 checks out with holiday cards that the recipient can give to their favorite charity. I love the idea.

When we started Certified Networker of Ohio, we decided that right from the beginning we wanted to give to charity. Each class that graduates has an MVP chosen from the member ranks. Before the class series ever begins each student is asked to list their favorite charity. At graduation the MVP is announced and this individual is presented with a check for his (or her) charity. Now, I have to tell you, the amount is only $50, but each charity representative has assured me that they love every dollar given to them.

How does your company give charitably on a regular basis?

When You Win, But You Don't

When you are out networking, the old 50/50 raffle tickets are sometimes sold. They add to the excitement of the event and also help groups to raise funds in an easy, not too intrusive way. Being the winner can get you into trouble if you're not a savvy player.

In the area I live, (NW Ohio) it is accepted practice that if you are attending an event that has a charitable connection, it is good form to celebrate the win, and then to magnanimously give the monies back to the charity. Conversely, if 50/50 raffle tickets are sold at an event that is strictly business, it is considered just fine for the winner to keep the money. Of course, no one ever refuses money donated back to a group that has organized the event.

I remember when I first became aware of the above rule -- or actually I was puzzled. During my daughter's high school years she attended a private school. My two other children attended public schools so I had no other history with the private world. We had some sort of dress up event where raffle tickets were sold for a car. (After all, this was Detroit!) I was so puzzled when the parent who won, gave the car back to be used for another fund raising effort. My brain would just not compute the logic. But knowing what I know now, this man was abiding by this unwritten rule. He had to give back his winnings for charity.

Have you encountered this rule or did your parents tell you about it as you were growing up?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It's Double Digits

Yep, that's right. As a kid, I could not wait for December 10th to roll around because then it meant that with a two digit day we were getting serious about Christmas. And it did take FOREVER to get there. I thought about writing this blog on Sunday, but now as an adult the 10th came and went in such a rush, that I didn't make the time to write.

Scott Ginsberg recently threw out a challenge in one of his posts about having a platform. He suggested that bloggers -- serious bloggers -- write a post everyday for six months. Hmmmm. Can I do it???

I'll have to have an accountability partner. Want to keep me on the straight and narrow. Volunteer to keep me in line!