Tuesday, July 31, 2007


The other day I was on a three-way conference call where I was introducing two people to each other. At a point late in the call, it seemed as if I wasn't needed anymore. I had done my job of introducing and explaining why the two needed to meet. They were beginning to determine the next steps. I didn't need to listen to them schedule a future phone appointment.

But one person stated clearly, "No, if you could stay that would be better."

Now, I have to admit that I was a little miffed. After all my time is precious.

In thinking about it later, I realized that she was right. I needed to be sure things had ended appropriately before I left the scene. If something had gone amiss, I could have reinforced the reason I brought the two together. I realized that the third party (ME) was similar to an insurance policy. I was there in case I was needed. Thankfully, I was not.

That's the reason why personal introductions are so powerful. They have the insurance behind them.

What's your take on this?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Winners or Losers

This past weekend, I participated in the annual Dragon Boats Races on the Maumee River in Toledo. It is really a fun time. Being a veteran of three years, I didn't get as nervous as I had in the past.

Our team, one of the three all-women's teams, was sponsored by McElheney Locksmiths. They actually sponsored two teams, a mixed group, called the Lock Ness Monsters and our female team named the Safe Crackers.

Being down on the river front, outside for the whole day was great.

A high point of the day for me was after the first heat, which we won. All three boats in that race had female crews. As the race ended we quickly docked, jumped carefully from the tippy boats and formed a double line with our paddles creating an arch overhead so that the women from the other two crews could receive our admiration for being part of the race as they came through the arch. Even better, one boat was breast cancer survivors, twenty two in all.

Later in the day, during the last races, our other team experienced something very different. They did not win that last race and were a little upset because of the tauting they received from the winners. There happened to be men on that boat, as it was a mixed crew.

My question is: Do you think the difference in the way those two end-of-race events happened had anything to do with testosterone? I'm just asking.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Yeah, Sure It's Easy

Today my friend, Deanna and I recorded another "Networking on the Chin" podcast on the Talkshoe.com website. We have a lot of fun with this as we can work together even though we're not in the same location.

It is always a laugh getting started, because going to the website just once per month, I forget how to do everything and have to re-learn all the steps again. Really there is only one, well two steps -- dial in on the phone and then click on the button on the screen that says "start your podcast." I just get all anxious over making sure I do it right, when I'm supposed to do it, because we're advertised as coming on at a certain time.

To put it mildly, it is not an easy task for me. In my next life I'm going to be a techie!

As a result, in September, we're going to try to eliminate the "relearning" curve by recording two times per month.

It made me think about how some people think networking or even talking with people is so scary. I don't really understand that mindset. But now maybe I do a little bit. They don't do it enough, so that it is a confront when they are forced to do it.

Hmmmm, maybe just like me with the podcasts, they need to relate to people more often.

What do you think?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Flagging Your Interest

One last memory from vacation.

Okay, okay, I know that I've been home for over two weeks, but I've been so busy that it just seems like yesterday.

Coming around a curve in McMurray, PA, just before the 4th of July, I saw this flag representation. It caught my eye, being so different. I had never seen one like this before. I don't know if the owner made it, or was able to purchase it. But that really doesn't matter in this post. What does matter is that on the way back out of town, I made sure to have my camera at ready so that I could snap the picture. It drew me back.

What about you draws people back? When I bump into you the first time at a networking event, what makes you memorable? What makes me still remember you two weeks later. That is what everyone needs to know because being just one of the crowd will make you fade into the distance.

Now, my friend Angie Weid, who owns Organized Solutions, an organization company, labels herself as a rocket scientist. And that she is! Her engineering degree is from Purdue. That makes her stand out.

What makes you stand out?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Don't Tell the Competition

Yesterday I was an event where I was previewing another professional's services. The main reason I went was to be able to talk better about this person's services when I have the chance to refer him in the future.

Of the four people at this session, two of us happened to be Certified Networker grads and two were not.

At one point there were comments about competition.

The two who were not CNers, looked at competition as the enemy, holding all information away from these devils.

The two who were CNers, explained that the person who was leading the session could be considered competition to both of us, but that we understood that we could cooperate and refer because he doesn't do exactly the same thing that either of us do. We are not afraid of him.

For me, that snippet of conversation really cemented the value of what I do, which is to lead the growth of Certified Networker in Ohio. I know that I am changing the way business gets done here in NW Ohio. My vision is to change it for the whole state of Ohio.

You see, when people cooperate with each other and think of how they can help each other, less energy is spent on negative activities. People working together, helping each other, can accomplish a lot more in a shorter time.

I call it positive economic development!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Rewards Can Be Tricky

This is a funny story.

Last week at our monthly CN lunch, Julie Kuney provided the short educational moment. Julie is the co-owner of ComfortKeepers, a company that provides non-medical, in-home care, typically to seniors.

Julie talked about rewarding our referral sources and how important it is to do so and do so appropriately. Then she took out two big plastic bags and kind of tongue-in-cheek said that she was giving us all two gifts. In one bag were individually wrapped mints and in the other bag were invidual envelopes of deodorant. I'm sure these are items she uses in her business.

What she did not do, but would have been even funnier, would have been to pass out the mints to just half the room and the deodorant to the other half. I'm sure the second half would have felt slighted.

It would have been the perfect example of what happens when we don't think through the gifts we give to referral sources or even clients. Making sure the reward is the same value and in the same vein is important. After all, your referral sources do talk and if one finds out they didn't get as nice a gift, you'll be handling that awkward issue forever.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Group of Eight

One reason I stopped in Pittsburgh on my way to the Scranton area on vacation, was to help my good friend, Deanna Tucci Schmit, launch a Master Mind group. She had heard the original presentation about such groups by Jane Pollard, at the Women's Entrepreneurial Network annual business conference several years ago. As a result of the presentation, seven women formed a Master Mind group here in Toledo and we've been meeting for going on three years now. Of course, Deanna has heard me rave about my group.

The Pittsburgh group of eight (Linda Schmucher is missing from the pictures because she was working out of town that day.) that I met with wanted to know more before they committed to such a venture. I shared the fun, the accountability, the challenges and the new friendships that have formed because of my MM. I must have said something right because they decided to meet and actually met for the first time on the same day our Master Mind group met in July. That was last Friday. I can't wait to hear what happened!

I usually try to prepare for my Master Mind meeting in advance. Because of vacation and all the fifth anniversary events associated with Certified Networker of Ohio, I did not have time to prepare. We need to be efficient with our time, because we only dedicate two hours to this monthly event.

Even so, off the top of my head I was able to come up with four goals to accomplish. One was to work in my garden all day Saturday. Accomplished! The second was to meet with five prospects every week. I have met with three prospects so far this week and no more are on the books.....yet! Because of that goal, I seem to have this little voice inside my head that is saying, "Schedule more appointments! Schedule more appointments!"

Today I am going to a sales seminar hosted by the Home Builders Association, the Women's Council of Realtors and Liberty Title. You can bet that I will have my appointment tool with me to help me to achieve that goal.

And isn't that part of good networking? Having my tools with me at all times?

Are you part of an accountability group? Which one? Does it work well for you?

Monday, July 16, 2007

NetWORKing Zones

As I drove across Ohio and Pennsylvania during vacation, I hit quite a few miles of "orange barrels."

There are two mysteries to me.

The first being: even though I was traveling on a week day (Thursday) on my way out, 90% of the work zones were not being worked on. Why? (Interestingly, on the way home, July 7 and 8, (seemingly an extension of the US national 4th of July holiday) there were lots of active zones. Hm-m-m, no work during the work week, and lots of work on Saturday and Sunday.)

The second part of that mystery is, how come we can't have a two-tiered approach to work zone speed limits -- a slower one for active work zones and a little faster for those that are inactive?

The reason I ask is that if I tried to go the posted speed, I felt like I was having a conversation with the driver behind me because he or she was trying to get into the back seat of my Mini.

Now, where there were people working, I wanted to go the speed posted, but again, I felt like a hazard with the vehicle (and more times than not it was a BIG truck) seeming to be only inches behind my bumper.

As I was pondering this dilemma, I got to thinking about how this parallels networking. You see the cars and trucks behind me were in it for themselves. They wanted to go as fast as they wanted without thought of any other driver on the road. Thoughtless networkers do the same, passing out cards at abandon, interrupting people to do so, talking about themselves only. Ivan Misner, Chairman of BNI, has named that behavior as scorched earth networking.

Getting what you want without concern for others.

So I guess we all need to slow down, both for the construction zones this summer and for the networking events we'll attend all year.

What's your take on all this?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

More On Questions

Thursday night was the third official meeting of our new investment club. Joy MacLeod, of Artistic Memorials, was the one who sparked the formation of this group. We now have nine members and are hoping to add a few more in the next couple months.

What is really neat about this group of women is that we all don't know each other. Joy starts each meeting agenda with one new question for us to answer about ourselves.

This month the question was, "When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?"

Again, it is so amazing how just one question can tell so much.

Our age range is 30s - 70s. Unfortunately our 30 year old was not able to attend the meeting. But it was fun to hear how each decade had answers that were similar.

Those in their 40's were proving that they could go to college and be something other than a nurse or teacher.

Those of us in the 50's were able to choose either nurse or teacher.

Those of us in the 60's had to receive special permission to do anything that smacked even the slightest masculine.

Those in the 70's were channeled into marriage and motherhood.

How times have changed!

That one question helps me to better understand and also to quickly get to know better everyone sitting around the table.

I think these individual questions should be adopted by every networking group as part of introductions they request. Along with just name and company, think how much more interesting the whole thing would be if you learned that one more piece of info about each person?

What do you think would be some good Q's to use?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

When You Can't Play Anymore

It takes class.

I mean real class.

Darlene Robinson is an up and coming CPA with The William Vaughan Company in Maumee, OH. She also is a Certified Networker grad and has served on the Board of Action for CN. She realized just recently that because of her schedule, increased responsibility at work, her daughter's needs and just life, that she wasn't fulfilling her spot on the BOA in the way that she is proud of.

As a result of some soul searching, she made the decision to resign from the board.

Now even though I will shed several tears at her being gone, I still respect her. In fact her already high credibility has gone up a notch as far as I'm concerned.

I would rather have people do what Darlene did, than just not show up for months on end. Sort of no call, no show.

Unlike Darlene, their ratings go in the opposite direction.

What's the most difficult decision you've had to make in relation to a business responsibility?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Jumble About Networking

Yesterday we had our monthly Certified Networker NETWORKING lunch.

It is always so much fun to get a group of grads together and watch them connect and try to help each other out. This month we were at a slightly different level, as we invited guests. That is something we do just once per year. We had almost 60 people attending. It made for a very full room!

Several observations.

1) We always do introductions. Beside including name and company there is a new question each month for each person to answer. Today's question was, "What was the best business advice you've ever been given?"

Last month's query was, "What movie character do you think best describes you and give us the title of the movie."

What I am beginning to realize is that just one question gives us insight to that person. Try it with group introductions sometime and tell me what you think.

2) Having such a question also is freeing. It seems that once people stop focusing on trying to give us the best verbal sales intro possible, they relax and let themselves shine through. As Scott Ginsberg would say, "They become so much more approachable."

3) Connected to number 2 is something I read in the paper tonight about Katie Couric maybe having some second thoughts about her change to nightly news anchor seeing that she continues to sit in third place in the ratings. My feeling about this is: The producers (or directors or whoever is in charge) are not letting Katie shine through. She is attempting to project something she is not. The few times I have seen her, she doesn't entice me to listen because she is bland, seemingly sullen, and very sober. Even her clothing is unimaginative. Now I don't mean that she has to be a Chatty Cathy, but I would like to see a Katie smile from time to time. She is the opposite of approachable.

So there you have it, all the networking thoughts in a thimble! Comments?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Connection Surprises

Certainly one of the many memorable points of my vacation, was a visit to the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh. This is a wonderland for plant and flower lovers. That's me!

Deanna and Bob Schmitt, my BNI connection in Pittsburgh, are also my out-of-the-box, experiences, friends. Whenever I visit, Deanna always has something surprising planned for us to do.

We had visited the Phipps in a previous trip and of course I was enthralled. But this time it was amazing. You see, the renowned artist, Dale Chihuly, has an exhibit of his wonderfully bright, sparkly and unbelievably creative glass work, spaced among the plants. I can't find words to describe the experience, other than, if you are in the Pittsburgh area, drop everything and visit this exhibit. You won't be sorry.

Which takes me back to connections. The relationships I build are always full of surprises. Deanna is one of my very best friends. Our friendship spans close to twenty years. She is the one I go to with business questions related to networking. We produce a podcast together called Networking on the Chin. We rely on each other for all kinds of things. But the best part of the friendship is what I call my cultural wing. She stretches and forces me to use it to fly.

What friend helps to round out your life in ways different than you expected when you first met them?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Back From Vacation

Today is the first day.

Yep, the day, I change the message back to normal on the phone. The day I try to catch up for being gone for ten days.

I have several ideas for posts, so I'll just start in to regale you over the next week or so!

Top of the list is a list of the books I read while gone.

I spent a week with my friends, Marcia and Gary Housel at their home on Tingley Lake near Scranton, PA. This lake has some pretty fond memories as the Housels and the Peters used to vacation there together every year with our kids, six in all. They have retired to that lake, having built a home just a couple lots away from where we used to stay in the Victorian "Itall Do." Long ago, Marcia and I read while the kids played 'sink the rowboat' and the men golfed. We haven't changed much. So here goes:

1. Freakonomics - I borrowed the copy and I'm glad I didn't spend my money on it. As far as I was concerned it was way too focused on unimportant issues.

2. Water For Elephants - By Sara Gruen. I loved it. The writing and the story were wonderful. I can see why it is a best seller.

3. The Language of Blood by Jane Jeong Trenka. Again I loved it. I would rank it right up there with Water for Elephants in both style and story. (I can't remember the title of this book, nor the author. I left it behind for Marcia to read. She will email me the title and then I'll update this post.)

4 and 5. Riding Lessons and Flying Changes by Sara Gruen. All I can say is that this author of #2 above has gotten a ton better. These books aren't bad, but sort of formulaic.

So there you have it. I love reading about other cultures and other times, so 2 and 3 really hit it on the nose. Now back to some business books.

What book did you think you wanted to read when you did, you found out it wasn't so great?

Oh by the way, just another month till the new Master of Sales is published by Entrepreneur Press. It's rumored to be best seller material.