Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Really Getting to Know You

It's always fun to meet with networking friends, because I usually walk away with a new idea.

This week was no different when I had coffee with Certified Networker Sharon Czarny, owner of Czarny Insurance Agency. Sharon wanted to meet with me to talked over an idea. I hope our conversation helped her because she shared a really great networking exercise with me.

It seems that David Marrufo who is the Educational Coordinator of her BNI chapter, is really creative. Not too long ago, he had every member write something about themselves that others might not know. Each slip of paper was folded and then he collected them and put them into a paper bag. He then went around the room again and having each member draw a slip. His instructions were that each member had to find out who was connected to the information they had in hand. That in itself is a great networking exercise, but here's the twist David added. The members had to count the number of guesses or people they went through to get to the right person. Whatever that number was, they had to schedule that many one-to-one meetings with members. Sharon said that she had 8 meetings set as a result of this exercise.

I love it. BNI's success is based on members really getting to know each other, so that they feel comfortable referring each other. David's creativity will help that to happen for their chapter members.

Thanks Sharon for sharing!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's More Than I Thoiught

Last week I attended a networking event in Findlay for those clients of Flag City Online. Now I gotta tell ya' until just recently, I just didn't think those city online directories were really worth anything. But then I got to know owner Karla Lewis better.

For Karla, the online directory is just the jumping off point. Beyond that, she hosts now monthly networking events for all her clients. That's just one thing she does, but I want to focus on that today. I had to arrive late for the event (which Karla knew about) because I had an appointment in Toledo that morning. As I arrived, the assembled group was beginning to do introductions with a twist.

Evidently when each person arrived they somehow received the company name of another person in attendance. (I'll have to find out the logistics from Karla!) Instructions must have been given that each person was to find out about the other person. Then during introductions, instead of self-introductions, each participant gave the introduction for the person theyhad been paired with.

The introductions were wonderful. People bragged about each other. As a new member of the group, I found out quite a bit more about people that I thought I knew pretty well.

Hats off to Karla for making this community be REALLY connected.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Collaboration Makes More

Friday night last week, I attended a party to help celebrate some January birthdays. Joy MacLeod, is a member of our Certified Networker community -- all those in the area that have graduated from the course.

Within the past year, Joy has been on a mission to launch a business of being a patient advocate for cancer patients. While out there networking she found two other people that were wanting to provide services to cancer patients, too. Instead of looking at them as competitors, the three decided to form a non-profit that would service the cancer community. By chance, all their birthdays are in January, hence the party which will hopefully give them some money they can then use for their new organization.

Some of their objectives are to provide housing for those coming to the area for treatment -- sort of like the Ronald MacDonald house does for families with ill children. They also want to be a centralized resource center so cancer patients know all that is available to them. Additionally, they want to provide the patient advocate services that Joy is all about. Their organization is called Cancer Connection of NorthWest Ohio. They have applied for their501(c)3 status and expect that they will receive that designation very soon.

As Joy said Friday night, "All of us have been touched by cancer in some way. We want to connect cancer patients and their families and caregivers to physical, emotional and spiritual resources." If you want to know more call Joy at 419-902-4742.

I am so proud of how the CN community members make a difference in the community.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Are Robins Snowbirds?

Today, I played most of the day. First I went for a short winter walk with hubby, Steve and then later I headed out to a Secor Metro Park to strap on the cross country skiis. I really didn't put in that many miles, probably about 2, but the trail was untracked and it really got my heart to pumping!

Before leaving home, I packed a sandwich and some strawberries, so at some point I came upon a wonderful bench where I could sit to eat my lunch. I cleaned the foot of snow from it and enjoyed my meal while watching the birds high above.

What really fascinated me were the two Robins in a tree that had dried black berries on it. Now, it's January 18. What are those Robins doing here? Have Robins stopped heading south because of the mild winters we've been having for the past decade????? Or was it all a fallacy that Robins migrated.

Part of networking is gathering information and also getting questions answered.

So who's out there that can fill me in on Robin behavior?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fill Those Slots

I learn so much from the people I network with.

Monday Sarah Wicks, AFLAC, was my guest at the WEN West meeting. That meeting always ends with everyone joining in a circle and then each of us pass one business card to the right till the leader says stop and then that action is repeated to the left. The two cards each person has in their possession, are the people to meet individually in the next month.

Sarah participated. She always jumps right in. That's what I like about her.

She showed me something else, too.

You know those little slots in your planner which are supposed to be used for credit cards or other credentials? Well, here's how she uses them. She inserts the business cards of people she is meeting with in the next week. That way they are handy, right there, in case she needs contact info.

Great idea.

Thanks, Sarah.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tapioca Marketing

This weekend, well actually Friday, I had a hankering for homemade Tapioca pudding. I used to make it all the time when my kids were young, but it had been YEARS. So with a winter storm predicted, I got some food in for the weekend between appointments on Friday, including the Tapioca. Now this looked like new fangled Tapioca, not the red box type. But what I actually found out was it was "pearl" tapioca, which meant it was more involved to make.

But never fear, I put the pearls to soak on Friday afternoon, so they could soak overnight as the instructions read.

Saturday, I could almost taste how good the pudding was going to be, but another challenge presented itself. I was supposed to make this in a double-boiler type pan, something I don't own. But I used a steamer insert with the upper part of the steamer lined with aluminum foil so that the steam wouldn't get in. I used a bowl inside this contraption for the actual cooking.

Well, to make a LONG story a little shorter, my pudding never gelled. Today, while I was out cross-country skiing, I figured that I could still bake it in the oven, just like a custard pie, without the crust. It worked. Finally tonight I had my first taste. Not pudding consistency, but still very good.

So why am I telling you all this?

Well, sometimes we do marketing that doesn't work. I'm sure we all have those leftovers that we're now wondering what to use or throw away.

Jeremy Haselman, a young financial planner for Northwest Mutual, had that happen to him. Early in '08, someone convinced him to plop down some money to be included in a "wedding-focused" brochure. Of course, Jeremy didn't get any business from this and when he was considering throwing the many leftovers out, he thought, "I should at least get to know all the rest of the advertisers in the flier." That is exactly what he did and now he knows a few that he can work with in the future and some that he won't waste his time. But Jeremy took a leftover and turned it into something positive.

Pudding and advertising have a lot in common!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

That Name Game

I was asked to speak about networking at the monthly N.O.G.A. (Northwest Ohio Gerontological Association) this past week. Usually, their meetings are more formal educational events, but this one they dedicated to networking.

As I entered I was given the typical label of half of two people or things that go together to put on my name tag. I was Butch Cassidy. Okay, I knew I had to find the Sundance Kid. But I didn't find that person before we had to sit down for the meeting. Angie Weid, Organized Solutions, was the person who invited me to speak and she made the introduction. I talked for just a few minutes focusing on the idea of making appointments while AT the event, rather than just collecting business cards. At the end of my talk, Angie announced, "Okay, now you all have been partnered with someone. If you haven't found them yet, you're going to be able to do so, because we're all going to do some more networking. BUT, this person can be your first appointment."

What a great addition to this usual game. Make an appointment to get to know this person better. I did see appointment books and PDAs being used. I scheduled two appointments and made several other contacts, too.

What did you do at your last networking event to reach your new goals for the new year?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Making Me Feel Comfortable

I mentioned dancing lessons in my last post.

Well, believe it or not, I have been tapped to be a "celebrity dancer" for our annual library foundation fundraiser. Our library in Perrysburg is named the Way Library after Willard Way, a long ago citizen, who gave money to start the first library. With that in mind, our event is called Dance aWay With the Stars.

Okay, you have the setting.

Now, I love to dance, but don't get to do it often and I don't know what I'm doing when I do dance. I figure moving my feet to the beat is half the battle!

I have been assigned a "professional" who is helping me to learn the maranga and who will also dance with me the night of the show. As far as I'm concerned, I hit the jackpot with this assignment. Neal Hopkins, was a professional dancer in another life. He has the dancer body, tall and lithe. Think Tommy Tune, but just not quite as tall. Neal now owns a State Farm insurance agency.

At every practice Neal has made me feel like a dancer, even when I turn the wrong way or can't get my hips to sway appropriately. (Believe me, this is not easy!) We have fun. He knows what we need to do and knows that I want him to take charge. Cool!

But the best part happened in an email. You see we received an email from the library letting us know that photos would be taken next week at practice and that we needed to wear something dressy. Right away my anxiety level increased. I don't go clubbing. I don't have slinky clothes. What was I going to do??????

Neal put me at ease, when confirming our practice time for this week, he wrote, "We'll talk about what we need to wear for next week's photo." Right away, because of my experience already, I knew that I didn't have to worry about this little item one more second. Neal will handle it and will make it easy.

Thank you, Neal!

And isn't that what networking is all about, making others feel comfortable and relaxed so they can enjoy the moment?

Monday, January 05, 2009

What's New For This Year?

In my opinion, networking doesn't pay off 'till I sit down and chat with a person that I've met at a networking meeting or event. With that in mind, I am changing my goal this year. From this day forward, I want to walk away with two appointments from each networking event that I attend. And this is not about selling, but finding out what these people do, how they do it and what I might be able to do to help them. Simple.

Another thing that I want to get better at is either entering business card info and comments into my database and then throwing the card away....or throwing the card away immediately. I would say that I am 75% there, but I must admit that there are some business cards sitting on my desk right now.
Bad Girl!

The reason for some of this is that I have tried not to walk into my office at least a couple times per week, just giving myself permission to be Debby! Usually that means reading, but also it could mean yoga or dancing class. (more about that later) When I have really busy days, the paperwork and business cards can mount up, especially when those busy days link together. So, my thought is that I will spend a maximum of 1 hour in my office on a night when it is not a "work night." And the only reason for that time will be to remove those little cards from my desk.

There, you have it. My two resolutions for the year.