Monday, December 29, 2008

What Makes Super Success?

I just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell's new book, Outliers. It is as thought-provoking as his last two. He takes a detailed look at why people are successful and has found some pretty amazing theories.

Some reasons for wide success are the date of your birth, the decade you were born and your ethnicity in relation to your chosen career. One theme threading through his various case studies is that each person would not have been the wild success that they are without the help of someone else. Bill Gates needed the mother's club at his school that bought a computer for the students. Some people had wonderful mentors and other received financial assistance.

In this last week of the year, don't let an opportunity to pass you by. Think about the person you may have met at a networking event in December that could benefit from a little attention. Give them a call and invite them to coffee. Just the fact that you are showing interest will probably will them a little more energy to keep on, keepin' on. I made one of those calls today, expecting the person to not remember me, but they did remember and seemed delighted. We have an appointment next week.

When I think back over my career, there are several names that stand out. They were not managers. They were just ordinary people. John Steele and I worked together at a long ago business. He took me under his wing, just because. And I learned so much about the "real" sales world from him. Rita Long was my Dale Carnegie instructor. She asked me to be her graduate assistant which meant I got to watch her in action while I was sitting at the back of the room. Rita showed me how to motivate people in the way she managed her Carnegie class. She made her students feel really good about themselves.

Your legacy could be that someday the super successful person will credit you with being the catalyst to their success. And if that isn't the best that can be, I don't know what is!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Want Members?

Several Business Network International (BNI) chapters in Findlay, Ohio want more members. They could have a traditional "visitor day" (and have in the past) but these chapters think outside the box. They want to help all organizations in the area to be more successful. With that being said they are planning a group networking event. They are inviting the local service clubs, GreaterFindlayInc., Hancock County Leadership and any other groups that solicit for members to be involved.

It reminds me of my friend, Tom Fleming's, BNI chapters in his Tampa, Florida area. All his chapters help each other to be successful. If one chapter falls below 25 members, all his other chapters work to help this one chapter to regain its strength. They realize that if every chapter is healthy, they all will benefit.

So without knowing the "Tom" story, this group is planning a similar task. They want all groups in their area to enjoy strong membership.

Do you want to bet that they will be successful?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Time for Dues

Recently several people have told me that they are not going to be renewing their membership in an organization. And the comment I've gotten from each person is, "I gotten all I can from this group."

Whoa! What an attitude. And for those people, I just smile a fake smile. First of all, I realize they just don't get it and second, the organization is better without them.

So as you begin to determine what groups you will be a member of next year, it would be a good idea to ask yourself, "What value have I given to the group?" If you can't give a good answer, maybe you should pay those dues for one more year. Make it your goal that when you leave the group next year they will all feel very sad.

Because you know right now if you leave, the remaining members will probably be thinking, "Good riddance. That person was a drag on our group. I would never recommend him for anything."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Tears to my Eyes

I was blown away today.

After visiting the Hannah's Socks blog the other evening, I read about the opportunity to become a recurring donor. I signed right up. Today in the mail as promised I received a package that contained some Hannah's Socks goodies AND

a personal thank you note from 8 year-old Hannah.

Now, I'm sure you have received a thank you note from the charities you have donated money to -- it just makes good sense for them to go to the effort. But I must admit that I thought I would get a word-processed letter perhaps with Hannah's signature.

But oh no! This note was on cream-colored construction paper, with a beautiful crayon drawing of socks. In her third grade printing style, Hannah wrote this note:

"Dear Ms. Deby, Hi, Thank you for donating to Hannah's Socks. We have a lot of homeless people to take care of. I am glad you are helping me. Love, Hannah"

Now I ask you? Does this 8 year old have her head on straight?????

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I just finished reading a book, Gardens of Water, about how mistaken beliefs and innuendo can kill people. In this book, set in Muslim Turkey, a young girl commits suicide because her community has turned against her with lies and rumors.

Gossip hurts. Gossip makes people what they aren't. As grandma probably said, "Gossip is what people do when they don't have better things to do."

Gossip and networking certainly don't go hand in hand. If I am networking with you and you tell me something about someone else, it makes me wonder what you're saying about me to the next person. If you tell me something that I find out later is not true, then your credibility has taken a dive.

Gossip is easy. Promotion seems to be more difficult for many people.

I am a huge proponent of the philosophy of, "if you have an issue with someone, talk to them." When you tell someone else about the issue, it can't be solved and you've created an additional problem.

Just think of how much better our world would be if we all had open communication.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

They're Here!

You've heard me complain about how some people employee the "Black Widow Spider Method of Networking." That's where a networker backs you into the corner, wraps you in his web and then proceeds to talk about himself and why you should buy his product for the next twenty minutes."

So maybe I am exaggerating a little. Maybe it's only 19 minutes.

To make my message heard, that networking is about relationship development, not selling, I have had some buttons produced.

See them here!

I know that the very people that need to see the message will be blind to these buttons, but at least I'll feel better!

What do ya think?

Monday, November 17, 2008

It's a Poopy Day

Update #2

My friend Marcia, has been going through treatment for Ovarian Cancer. You can read one of the posts about it here.

While the journey has not been easy, Marcia has kept her perspective about her and has also kept her sense of humor.

After surgery in September to remove the cancerous tumors, she was having to manage a colostomy bag - albeit a temporary one, but in the moment that doesn't matter. Of all the medical issues she has had to deal with, this challenged her the most. But she got through it. And November 5 was a red letter day because the colostomy was reversed.

And in a conversation I had with Marcia on Friday, she was proud to report that, "Yes, she had already had a poopy day!" In fact, she had done the poopy dance.

Now, I ask ya', can that comment do anything but make ya' smile?

Even better are the test markers. At her caringbridge website she reports,

"At present the only marker to diagnose Ovarian Cancer is the blood test called CA125. For women who don't have cancer the average number is 35. Last Tuesday my number was 42!! The doc's will keep going with the chemo for 4 or 5 more cycles but I think the numbers tell an awesome story. (note: Marcia'a had been up over 4000 at one time.)

Words cannot express how grateful we are for your love and concern. Keep the positive energy flowing and the prayers ascending, and do the same for all you know who are dealing with this dreaded disease."

I am so proud of my friend, Marcia. She has been a mentor all my life and with this chapter in our lives, she continues to show the way.

Thanks, Marcia!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Update #1

It's update time.

Back in March of this year I wrote about my friend Mary Simmons' brother in this post. The basic concept was that because of my relationship with Mary I wanted to help publicize her sister-in-law's effort to raise money for Mary's brother's alternative treatment for his prostate cancer. This was treatment that insurance would not cover.

Last week Mary and I took some time to have coffee. Just so you know, enough money was gathered to send her brother to California for treatment. While no lifespan is ever guaranteed, her bro with be at Thanksgiving this year feeling pretty good.

Mary forwarded me an email that her sister-in-law, Gina, sent to her while they were in California.

"The doctors were thrilled with George's progress here, and believe that his journey to healing will be very successful. We are encouraged and optimistic!! It feels amazing to have this kind of support and encouragement in the midst of what has often felt like a very scary situation. He has a take-home regime of supplements and diet- all very manageable- along with the ongoing expertise and watchcare of the doctors here. We definitely don't feel alone on this path."

As we begin to roll through the month of November, I am thankful for all the friends I have and how full they make my life. The relationships add depth to my life experience. Mary's story is just one example of how that happens!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Nose to the Grindstone

Part of networking is setting goals for what you want to achieve.

One of the students in my Certified Networker class shared one way that he keeps doing what he needs to do to be successful.

His fiancee is one of his accountability partners. Their commitment to each other is that on Friday night she asks him if he has done what he said that he was going to do for the week. If the answer is yes, they go out for dinner, if not that money they set aside for dinner instead goes to a charity.

He knows that she'll want to go out to eat, and while he doesn't mind giving money to charity, he likes to share time with this wonderful woman in his life.

It is simple and ingenious, because both accountability partners have something to gain in the process.

What systems have you set up to be accountable?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

What I Learned From Mom

Every month I have been asked to give the networking tip at the GreaterFindlayInc's morning networking program called Fresh Brewed. I have just a minute or two, so I have to be clear, concise and hopefully memorable.

There is always a theme. Tuesday if was "Elect to be Involved." (It was election day in the US.)

So I decided to tell a story about my mother.

My parents moved 17 times in the first 11 years of their marriage. After the first three or four moves my very shy mother realized that if she didn't make a friend the day she hit town, that six months later she would be leaving without any friends. This was a challenge to begin with, but she became very good at it. In their heyday, my parents penned a handwritten personal message on over 700 Christmas cards every year. I guess she got over her shyness!

Fast forward to me making the move to Toledo in 1992 not knowing a soul except for my new husband. The first year I traveled out of town each week for business and when I went to the grocery store each weekend, I saw no familiar faces. Then remembering my mom, I decided to get involved in the community. My father-in-law recommended a group. I attended the first meeting one weekend morning. The next weekend I walked into the grocery store and my day was made when someone said, "Hi Debby."

I ended my story Tuesday by saying that we can elect to be involved for what we can get, but to remember that we need to reach out to those who are new and not connected.

You could hear a pin drop.

After the formal meeting was over, several people came up to me who have not spoken to me ever before and I've received several emails from people commenting. I think I hit a chord that is in all of us, that of being alone and left out.

So the general election is over for another four years. Even so, you can elect to be the person who says hello to those that really need it!

That's what networking is to me.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Unexpected Resources

Last week I spoke at the Enterprise Ohio Network conference in Dublin, Ohio. It is the professional association of those who provide continuing and professional training. It is always interesting what I find out when I present at such events.

My talk, as always, focused on aspects of networking. This time I had been asked to speak about the various types of networking groups that these professionals could attend or join in order to get them out of their "caves." During the presentation, Dwain Henderson Sr., commented that if those in the room wanted to connect with the black community that there were plenty of club, groups and organizations that catered to this population.

After the presentation, Dwain chatted with me about one such group. He asked me if I had ever heard of I had to admit that I had not. This morning I finally had a few minutes to check out the site. It looks like a very good resource.

Additionally, the site tells about a conference being held in June 24-27 '09 for black community leaders, business people and professionals. It is billed as a the largest black networking event. If you want to connect to, sell to or are a member of the black community, this is something you might want to check out.

Thanks, Dwain, for the information.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What is Networking?

Gosh, sometimes I feel like I just hammer away at the same message. Or maybe I drill away at it, but my drill bit is dull.

The message is:

Networking is not sales!

Simple message, but I guess not easy to understand or implement.

In the last couple weeks, I actually used that message during a presentation. My contact for this group later told me that the most important information she got from the talk was, "Networking is not sales." I asked her if that was a new concept. She replied that she was sure she sort of understood it, but until I said it, she had never really thought about it.

One other person I met with said that he was so happy with our meeting because it seemed like I was interested in him as a person, as opposed to a warm body to sell to.

As I said before, "Networking is not sales."

So, taking the bull by the horns, I am having buttons made that say just that. I hope that a few other people might want to wear them too.

Keep posted!

When I get them, I will share them with all of you through this blog.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ahead of the Curve

Today, I'm having an office day.

Had to complete my newsletter on others' deadlines -- mine was last Friday at 5 PM, but some did not agree with the deadline!

So anyway, I'm sittin' here in the office -- or the cave!

Glanced over at my shelves to the left and noticed the framed photo of my paternal grandmother, Hannie Dickinson. It's a sepia-toned photo of her holding my (baby) son, Andy, who is now 39 years old.

Anyway you get the picture.

My grandmother knew how to network. She connected with people around the word before computers, by writing letters to people every Sunday. Some she had met in person, but some were people she had read about.

My grandmother was a farm wife. Her beautiful New England home burned to the ground one cold winter day. But she kept on. She collected information, like any good networker would, to make sound financial investments with her hard-earned money. This was during the late '40's and early '50's when women baked bread and did not balance the checkbook. One financial goal was to build a proper parlor onto the revamped farm shed that became her home after the fire.

Grandma didn't call it networking. That's our word for it today. But she connected like no tomorrow.

Don't you wonder what your grand kids will say about you? Will they admire you because you were ahead of the curve?

Friday, October 17, 2008

One for You and One for Me

In word-of-mouth marketing, we try to reinforce the concept of reciprocal relationships, where both partners receive benefit. That might mean that for every referral I give to you that you give me one in return.

Well, yeah, that is the ideal world.

So now let's get real.

Mutually beneficial relationships can take on various shades of reciprocity.

Kendra Saldana, owner of Smart Sites by Kendra, is a great example of how she helps her referral partners. One of them, a radio station, has a popular advertising package that requires their client to have a website. No website, means they can't have this package. This is where Kendra comes in. The radio station refers the prospect to Kendra, she develops a website. Sometimes it is just a very simple one page deal, other times it is more complex. Once done, she steers them back to the station, so they can now get the advertising package.

In this situation everyone wins. Kendra gets a new client. The radio station gets a new client and the business gets the advertising they want.

Kendra has not had much opportunity to send a client to the radio station directily from her own sales efforts but the radio station still feels like they are getting what they need because Kendra is solidifying the possibility for them to get a client when she builds the website. Mutually beneficial.

Do you have some examples of recipricol referral relationships?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

You Can Hear the Fear!


It can keep us from doing oh so many things.

"What if they say no?" "What if they don't want to work with me?" If they say no, does that mean they don't like me?"

The above chatter runs through our heads constantly. (Or maybe I should say, my head!)

Networking Fear keeps us from going to the event.

Networking Fear keeps us from talking to someone we don't know.

Networking Fear keeps us from asking for help.

Networking Fear keeps us from introducing ourselves to someone.

Networking Fear keeps us eating and drinking.

Networking Fear keeps us from getting what is right for us.

Networking Fear keeps us from speaking up.

Networking Fear keeps us from asking someone about their business.

Networking Fear keeps us from ........

How would you fill in the blank?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Another Networking Tool

When I think of networking tools, the first thoughts that come to mind are business cards and calendar. What else could you possibly need?

Well, I've just come up with a new one.

In the last couple weeks, I ended up at networking events and committee meetings seated next to people with major colds. Now I am not germaphobic in any way, but I just knew that the cold bug was going to get me. I tend to easily get colds and they are not mild. Some stay around for weeks on end.

Sure enough on Monday of this past week, I had that awful funny feeling in my nose when I got up. Great, not a good start to the week. I stopped at Rite-aid that day and perused the aisles for some over-the-counter good stuff. One box caught my eye with it's creative brand name.

No Time for Colds

And that's just the way I felt. I had tried cold remedies before that claimed to shorten the length of a cold if caught early. But they had never worked for me so I was very suspicious -- suspicious but somewhat desperate.

It worked!

By Thursday of that week, I was feeling almost as if I didn't have a cold. WOW! I'm a believer.

So along with business cards and calendar, No Time For Colds is a good networking tool to have on hand.

What's your favorite cold remedy?

Monday, October 13, 2008

"This is For Your Own Good"

Recently I was the receiver of some unasked for advice. The generator of this advice felt they had a mission. While I really didn't appreciate being attacked with this advice, I realized that this person had my best interests in mind.

Yea, well sort of.

I'll keep this short, but just a couple days ago I found out that the advice deliverer had talked about this incident to someone that we know in common. This conversation was also in front of another person that knows me. That person called me very upset at what had transpired.

This is where I am not so pleased.

As I said, as for the original advice giving, I was giving the benefit of the doubt that this person only meant well. But now that I know this person is "spreading the word" I am not so sure anymore. I am beginning to think that this person is not a very nice person. In fact, I'm beginning to think this person is a very devious person.

So here are a few rules for giving advice:

1. Don't give it unless it is asked for.

2. If you give advice, don't tell anyone else about it. Treat it as most confidential.

Do you think I am over reacting in this situation?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Just a Few of My Favorite Things

This morning I am heading out to Findlay (Ohio) to attend GreaterFindlayInc's morning meeting they have named Fresh Brewed. I always look forward to this monthly event.

Here are my reasons:


In just a little over an hour the program is set so that I get a little tidbit about what's happening in all parts of the community. It's kind of fun to continue to be educated and now that a little over a year has gone by since I began attending these meetings, I am beginning to feel like I'm a little in the know. (I have a long ways to go still!)

Crowd Attitude

Maybe it's just the AM crowd, but everyone is friendly and happy to be there. There nothing better than getting a lot of positive energy first thing in the morning!

Interesting People

While there is a core group that attends, (just like with any group) there are always new faces. That adds to the diversity of my education.

No Wasted Time

The meeting has a strict structure so no time is wasted and even though different faces take on different jobs each time, the meeting follows that agenda to a "T."

It's About the Members

The GFI (A.K.A. chamber) staff go out of their way to have the meeting be about members. They realize that they are not the organization, but that they help to make the organization for the members. Bravo goes to Dionne, Jeremiah, Diannna and Alissa.

What do you like about a group you attend?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Does My 1 = Your 1?

The hallmark of a "good" referral relationship is one that has both parties feeling as if they are getting benefits.

Traditionally, that might mean that if you and I are in a committed referral relationship, then for every referral you send my way, I'd certainly send one back to you.

But this is where the real world clashes with the ideal world.
First of all, not all referrals are equal. The ten referrals I send your way, could be far outweighed by just one referral you send to me. Unit measurement is probably not the best way to quantify the results of such a referral arrangement. Measuring referrals exchanged by two people is probably better achieved by noting dollars realized.

Additionally, in strongly committed relationships, what one individual wants, may have nothing to do with a referral. This person may want a speaking engagement, an invitation to an event or even just your time. They may give business referrals in return. So the relationship is satisfying the needs of both, but the referrals are not equal.

What this all boils down to is that both parties have to talk with each other openly and honestly. Then and only then will the relationship thrive.