Friday, September 28, 2007

Letters, We Get Letters!

A funny thing happen on the way to the .......

This week when I was presenting a training about networking, one of the participants asked my opinion about following up with a letter after a networking event. I truthfully gave my opinion that this is not the best way to handle these new acquaintances.

1. A phone call would be better, because after all, no one is going to do business with you because of a form letter. And this phone call should be to find out more about what the other person does, not about you.

2. A personalized email is second best, as long as it is personalized and not just an electronic version of the paper form letter.

3. A handwritten thank you note can be almost as good as a phone call, although if you want to meet with this person you are going to have to call them anyway.

Last week an associate of mine also presented a training. At the end of the session, one of the participants asked for his card. He was pretty impressed thinking that this new person might be interested in his business offerings.

Not so.

Instead this newbie sent him an email form letter telling him in a very L-O-N-G email, full of industry lingo, what she could do for him if he'd only buy from her.

Follow up can be deadly if done wrong.

Follow up can be deadly if not done.

Follow up can be fruitful if done with the other person in mind.

What do you have to say about all this?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Purposeful Networking

Today I presented an educational session entitled Six Steps to Purposeful Networking to the Home Builders' Association of Washtenaw County (Michigan). I love giving this presentation because it is open-ended enough that there can be lots of audience participation.

Today was the ultimate. There were so many questions and comments from the participants about shaking hands, personal body space, sending out sales letters, asking questions and scheduling appointments. This crowd really wanted to learn.

I can't remember all the names today, but thanks to Leo, Ron, Janet, Karen, Nate, Dan, John, Les, Lora and Christine Hill who invited me AND Missy Lowler, who represents the Builder's Club, who referred me to Christine. Sometimes I'm glad to be done, but today I wished I'd had more time to spend with this great group. They gave as much or more to me than I think that I was able to give to them.

When was the last time you wanted to spend more time at something?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Leadership Toledo, Part II

Last Friday was the second session of Leadership Toledo. We spent the day on an air-conditioned bus driving to various points in Toledo so that we all could get a feel for what we might have missed about "our town." At each point along the way, we picked up or listened to a special expert on that area. Each person brought information AND humor to their presentation.

Nick Malone gave us the details of the east -- an area of Toledo that I can always manage to get lost. It was interesting to hear of each little settlement and how architecture reflected the country from which the settlers immigrated from.

My favorite spot of the day was the Old West End. While today we think of this as "downtown," back in the "old days" this was the new suburb. The Old West End Association's members are joined by an interest in the # of fireplaces, types of doorknobs, types of architecture and events. We were welcomed to the Edson Baumgardner House (the picture of only of the back of the house, for some reason I didn't take a picture of the front.) on Parkwood by the current owner, a retired history teacher. He is passionate about this house and that he is the steward of keeping it for generations in the future. One of our Leadership Toledo members had enjoyed having this man as his teacher and said that the owner was the best teacher he had in his whole schooling.

I'll tell you more about our day in another post. But if you get a chance, take a self-guided walking tour of the Old West End some Sunday afternoon. It will be a pleasure.

Monday, September 24, 2007

I Give Up!

Recently I attended an event where people were eating and chatting. It was a casual affair.

The gentleman I was sitting next to continually consulted his cell phone, text-messaged someone, and generally kept his eyes glued to this electronic UNINVITED guest.

Usually, as a dinner companion, I would have tried to draw him out, asked questions and tried to show interest in him. At one point I did say, "Wow! That must be important." His comment was, "No, it's just my daughter, playing around, text-messaging me."

So, I gave up. I figured that he was certainly not on the same page or really even mentally at the same event. Why should I make a special effort when he wasn't making any?

TURN OFF THE DAMN PHONES. (And I know I'm going to get someone saying, but he was talking to his little daughter. Well, his little daughter is in high school.)

Am I being too hard?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ways to Give

In the past week, I've met with several people who when I asked what kind of help they were looking for said, "I want to be mentored by people more successful than I."

One young woman said that the mentoring didn't need to be anything formal, just that she wanted to link with other successful people to watch and learn from them.

Sometimes we get so caught up in figuring out how to give referrals to each other, (and that's not bad) but we forget that many times we have other important "things" to give. Mainly time!

I am so proud of the Certified Networker community of grads here in NW Ohio. You see, we have two versions of the course being taught here. One is what I call the "public" class where the students are business people. The other version is the accredited class because Davis College has decided that the CN course should be part of their curriculum. The Davis College student is typically NOT the traditional student. Most are a little older and most work full-time along with going to school. Still they don't have as much business experience as the "version 1" students.

One challenge has been that the Davis Students have not taken advantage of the power of the CN community, especially after they are done with the course. We've tried several ways to make better connections, but just haven't hit upon the right combination. Enter Linda Kuns, State Farm Insurance representative and CN grad. She developed a mentoring program, organized the mentors and along with Nick Nigro, Davis College placement director and CN grad/trainer, connected the version 1 grads with the current Davis students. I think we are going to have better success this time, helping to mentor these students. I'll let you know how it goes.

All fourteen mentors are busy. Probably they really don't have the extra time needed for this project. But they are willing to carve a little extra out so they can give that precious commodity -- their time. I'd like to thank Tracee Swank, Megan Coyle Stamos, Sue Greene (2 students), Linda Kuns, Kay Somoyge, Julie Cantu, Angela Crosby, Mike Williams, Joe Francis, Fred Altvater, Anita Dotson, Allison Adkins, Cheryl Engfer and Barb Mullholand for being willing to take that extra time. You are what our community is all about.

What do you give in addition to referrals?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tenth Anniversary Celebration

Yesterday, September 15, was my friend, Sandy Pirwitz's
10th Anniversary
of her store, Sandy's Stuff for Women. I am very proud of her. She was a nurse, and a very well-known one, for 30 years. In fact, if you google Sandy Pirwitz, the sixth entry down is an article in the Journal of Infection Control where she is listed as a major author.

She had a huge sale to celebrate the anniversary, giving back to her customers in a big way. I stopped by to take a card, take a picture and just to lend support. I left my purse in the car, never having an inkling that I would spend any money.

I should know better. Let me tell you about the bargains I got.

1. A dark brown, medium-wale corduroy pants suit, labeled from Casual Corner for $29. I'll need to have the pants altered, but no matter, that's a deal.

2. A cream and brown tweed jacket, that zips up the front. Another steal for $17.

3. A cream-colored with brown trim, cotton and spandex sweater set for $14.

4. A necklace and earrings with fall colors and leaves for $16.

And on top of that everything that I purchased was 20% off.

Sandy had a goal of hitting the $2000 mark in sales yesterday. I hope she hit it. My deals were so good, that I feel like I robbed her of reaching that mark.

Oh yeah, you'd think that the only thing she'd want to do last night was to go home a put her feet up. No, not Sandy. She's involved with a play called the Birth Project that was presented last night in Maumee. This play had a "talkback" session after the play with two local doctors. Sandy helped the producer to connect with these doctors and in that vein, she'll be there supporting those docs and giving to the community because that's what Sandy's all about.

Thanks, Sandy for all you do. Happy Anniversary.

ed. note: 9/16/07 Sandy reported that not only did she hit her goal, an all time high, but she went over by 20%. Bravo!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Answers, We Give Answers

I had a conversation with my wonderful daughter-in-law this afternoon. Lisa is expecting a baby at the end of November. Lisa also has a Ph.D. in molecular biology and has just been named VP of Science and Innovative Technologies for the company she works for. Need you guess that I am proud?????

Anyway, back to the subject. We were talking about the inappropriate questions she has gotten since admitting to the world that she is expecting. She made me laugh with some of the answers she has developed to the more intrusive questions. Being the wonderfully gracious young woman that she is, she smiles and then gives an answer that is totally illogical, but she acts like it is full of reason. It leaves the rude questioner pondering whether they should try for the next question or just shut up. Most take the second route.

I am telling you this for a reason.

This morning at the WEN networking meeting, we followed our usual agenda of giving short introductions and then during the next part of the meeting we were all invited to write an issue, challenge or problem on a slip of paper. These were then collected and put into a basket. Three or four were pulled from the basket to have the brainstorming power of the group try to help solve the challenge. The authors of the notes can remain anonymous or reveal themselves. The one rule is that each question-writer has to remain quiet and write down all suggestions -- even if it has "already been tried before."

I wrote a challenge, that of having to deal with a person who is not easy to deal with. I gave more details this morning but not enough for people to guess who the person is. I did not give the sex of the person, because I felt that while it is my issue, the problem could be very universal and everyone could learn from the answers if the details were more general. I got some really good suggestions.

After the meeting, a person who has not been around WEN long enough to know me that well, came up to me and asked me if that person was my husband. I truthfully said, "No." But I was a little ticked off that she had the nerve to ask the question. What business was it of hers?

So to bring this around full circle, if I'd had my conversation with Lisa yesterday instead of today, I could have used her protocol to defer the questioner. I'm having a lot of fun tonight dreaming up answers that I could have given that would have been very Lisa-like. And I'm just picturing in my mind the look of confusion that would have been displayed!

So what do you think would be the perfect answer to this rude question?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Nails, It's All About the Nails

Finally, I am writing about the first edition of Leadership Toledo. The day was gorgeous and went all too fast. There are 54 other people in our "class." I want to meet all of them and learn what makes them tick. But in the meantime we did some team building exercises during the morning and early afternoon.

We were so lucky to be at Secor Metropark for the beautiful blue sky day. After some initial introductions and welcomes, we spent the morning outside. We had to pass four tennis balls around our circle of about 27 people in two seconds. You had to be there watching us as we figured out how to do it.

After that, an inside exercise was set up for us. We were asked to form smaller groups. On the table was a block of wood with one large nail in it. The hole was large enough for the nail to come out, but small enough that it held the nail in place. Also, on the table was a bunch of similarly sized nails all tied together with a string.

I've got to tell you that my first thought was, "Great, this is all about tools, and the guys are just going to take over and elbow us women out of the way." Okay, slap my hand. What really happened was that the women solved the puzzle, which was to get all the nails balanced on the one nail in the wood. Directions were to leave the wooden block upright, and the balanced nails could not touch the block of wood.

What was really neat, was that one person got the solution started, and then a second person figured the next step and finally a third person thought out the ending step. It showed teamwork at its best. Even after we quickly "built" our solution and were asked to take it down so the other teams could not see it, another of our team members determined a way for us to put it back together that was easier and less awkward. I felt lucky to be part of this group. Sara Best, John Borrell, Matt McCullough, Kyle Pifher, Mandi Rahla, Luis Ramirez and Bunny Rossnagel all helped to make us successful.

Another time I'll tell you about the talk we received from the naturalist the last hour of the day. But for now, Leadership Toledo is a thumbs-up, so far.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Wow, Is She a Nice Person!

My friend, Lori Cannon and I are again working together on the Girl Scout project called Camp CEO. Last year was our first year to pair successful business women with girls in Sophomore, Junior or Seniors years of high school. They worked together for a weekend at Camp Libby.

With every successful project there is always planning for next time.

Lori and I have volunteered to find the speakers for both the weekend and the lunch that we have to acknowledge female leaders in our business community and also to recruit mentors for the weekend with the girls.

Last week both of us were at the Sylvania Chamber of Commerce monthly lunch. Anne Baker, the Executive Director of the Toledo Zoo was the speaker. She was a good presenter not only in topic but also in delivery. Her talk made me want to listen.

After lunch Lori and I talked with Dr. Baker about the possibility of her being the keynote speaker for our weekend in April. Dr. Baker jumped right in and enthusiastically agreed to do it and even said how much she loved to do stuff like that. What a breath of fresh air. We didn't get the, "I'll have to check my calendar," or "What's in it for my organization?" or "No, the group is too small, " or whatever. We asked if she could talk about alternative career paths -- certainly being a woman in the animal care world puts her in a minority, and she even had some additional ideas of what she could add.

In other words she was engaged! She gave us value before she even spoke. She developed credibility with both Lori and me almost immediately, because she was real and didn't hide behind her corporate "veil."

Thanks, Dr Baker. Thanks for being so open.

What powerful person have you found to be engaging?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Okay, I'm Back

I don't know what was going on, but I just didn't feel like blogging. Sorry about that!

So today I met with a woman who is the director of a chamber of commerce. She made me laugh because she told me that she was afraid to meet with me. (I'm such an ogre!) She was afraid of what I wanted. She had already canceled our meeting one time, for a good reason, but she sure hoped that I wouldn't call her back. But like a bad penny, I keep showing up.

She shared that she lives just a couple miles away from her office and that office is small, like a nest. She drives to work, enters her office, and then drives home. She would rather put packets together than get out and meet people. It reminds me of the description that Ivan Misner uses on his CD entitled, "Networking for Cave Dwellers."

Underneath that scared exterior is this cool lady, one who holds herself back. But I think she is on the verge of doing some very important work. No concrete details, just a feeling. She said that fear holds her back. I told her about my friend Cheryl McCormick's post from a couple days ago. It was a great explanation of overcoming fear.

I expect to tell you more about her in the future because I believe she has greatness in her. I believe in her!

What are you afraid of?