Sunday, March 29, 2009

So Many Choices

Many years ago I remember a quiz that I took to help me better understand networking.

One question was, "A business friends is presenting at a conference that you are attending. You have heard the presentation previously. Will you attend this effort or choose another session that will help you to learn more?"

Ever hungry for more knowledge, I of course, said that I would blow off my friend and go to something else.

I am a little ashamed to admit this, because I now know that it was the wrong answer.
We all need to support our friends no matter how many times we have heard them speak about a certain subject. They need us.

We also might learn something new as a result of listening a second (or third or forth) time. A question from the audience might shine a light on something that was not explained before.

Word of mouth marketing is about giving as much as you receive. Being in the audience when your friend presents is the greatest gift you can give!

Would you have gotten that answer wrong, too?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Spare Me!

I had that sinking feeling. The young woman sitting across from me at the coffee shop had just pulled out a brochure and was starting to give me her sales pitch. The thought that ran through my head was, "Why don't they teach this in college?"

"This" is how to act in an appointment where you are meeting someone for the first time.

"This" is the appointment where you are supposed to get to know the other person.

"This" is not the time for selling.

My dilemma was that since this young woman didn't receive the above training in college (or obviously from her sales manager) how could I gracefully let her save face?

I learned a technique from my friend Karen Kiemnec, The Journey facilitator. Karen is a very gentle soul. I always gain so much from her when we talk. She shared that when that happens to her, that she immediately says, "How about if we take some time to get to know each other first."

So I used that line. And it worked. The rate of the appointment slowed. We both relaxed. We both found out things we had in common and some that we didn't. When I put my notes about this young woman into my data base, I was surprised at how much I did get to know her during our short time together. I also was able to help her in a couple ways that were other than purchasing from her.

What do you do when you are caught in this awkward situation?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Falling Trees

Several years ago I was on a multi-day raft trip on the Selway River in Idaho. This is a very isolated and also federally protected river, meaning serene and no other people than the ones on our trip. One afternoon, many had gone out hiking the ridge that overlooked the river, but I chose instead to head into my tent for some quiet reading time. I was just tired that day.

The wind was blowing pretty hard and the tall trees around the camping area were dancing back and forth. All of a sudden I heard a crack, swish, crash and a second of the same sound. I was out of that tent in a nano-second. The wind was pushing some of those giant trees right to the ground.

If I was going to die being crushed by a tree, I certainly wanted to know about it! No staying in the tent for me! Seconds before, my energy level was very low - now the adreneline was pumping through my bloodstream. Fear can make our bodies do so much more than we can ever expect.

I liken the above experience to going networking events. Some people would rather die (and this is me sometimes!) than attend. For many this is fear of the situation. (not me, I'm just lazy!) But just like facing the trees, facing the networking situation will send the networking adrenaline racing around your body.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Where Does Community Start and End?

I am a huge proponent of the fact that local libraries create community in so many ways. This morning I was at a committee meeting for the Way Library foundation and Lisa Richard the administrator told this anecdote.

Last night one of the reference librarians took a call from a person who wanted to know a title of a book. Now this person didn't know the author and really only knew that the book was about the Holocaust and animals. The librarian vaguely remembered something like that, but told the patron that she would call back when she had something more definitive.

She did the research and found the book title. When she called the patron, she mentioned that while our library did not own a copy of the book, that she could get a copy for him pretty quickly from the library interloan system. The patron said, "Oh, you don't need to do that because I am in West Palm Beach (Florida), but I knew how good your library is and knew that you could help me.

When we think of community, in general, I think of a small defined local group of people. Libraries nowadays have far reaching arms into the world, making community become a much bigger word.

How has your library helped you?

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Little Kids Networking

Yesterday, my DIL, Lisa, and my adorable granddaughter, Kaylie, came to visit for the afternoon so Kaylie's daddy could get some work done.

We decided to go to Woodlands Park in Perrysburg. As you can see Kaylie loved it. I had two very divergent thoughts about this adventure.

The first is that Kaylie loves to play with other kids. When we arrived at the park, she was ecstatic because there were four other little kids playing there. The two youngest little girls, took Kaylie under their wing and helped to introduce her to some of the play scape. I thought about how wonderful it is that kids just jump right in with each other, not worrying about anything. Wouldn't it be great if that happened for us adults at networking events. Just think if when people saw others at an event, they ran (as Kaylie did) toward them.

The other thought I had was about how a small group of people can make such a huge difference in a community's life. This very complex play scape at the park has been in existence for about 10 -12 years. It was that long ago that a couple young mothers wanted this for their children. They took their request to the powers-that-be and were turned away. Determined, they said, "Well, we'll raise the money ourselves." There were quite a few naysayers that said, "You'll never be able to raise that much money." Obviously, they were wrong.

When I think about what those women did for our city, I wonder how many children have run, swung and played at that installation. The ripples of their contribution continue to positively affect the quality of life for our young citizens. One of two main forces behind that project, Lisa Richard, is now the foundation administrator at the Way Public Library. She continues to make contributions to our community.

Thank you Lisa for all that you do!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Controlling the Situation

Tonight I went to a networking event at the downtown Tony Packos restaurant and it was really a happening time. What I really liked about this evening was that I had a guest and I also only had limited time to spend at the event.

Because I had a guest, my goal was to introduce him to as many helpful people as possible. Now, I have to tell you that he wasn't shy at all and probably didn't need my help, but still I had a job to do. You see, I don't ever feel comfortable at such networking situations unless I do have a JOB!

Second, because I could only stay for an hour, I made the best use of the time, talking with a few people for myself and also making sure that I got in all the intros I wanted to do before I left.

There you have it -- give me a job and a short amount of networking time to keep me happy.

What do you do to help you relax at networking events?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

And Who Are You?

I've had two really busy days! Yesterday, I gave the one or two minute networking tip at the end of the GreaterFindlayInc. Fresh Brewed meeting. I have been asked to be the permanent person to do that job for the past year. I try to give hints and ideas that the attendees can immediately use.

What we have tried to get away from is having people just pass out business cards. We all know that does no good. Yesterday, I did receive a card from someone who came up and introduced herself to me. We chatted briefly and I mentioned that I had been in her facility.

Today, again, I was in Findlay to begin the next series of Certified Networker classes. After class I hopped over to Coffee Amici to have lunch and then to have an appointment. Before the appointment arrived, the person who had given me her card yesterday came in to the coffee shop, too. She looked right at me and I smiled at her, but she gave no hint of recognition. Now I tell you, I know that my looks are somewhat distinctive. My hair color and eyewear both get mentioned to me a lot. So I'm not your fade into the wallpaper type of person. People usually remember me.

I think the reaction that I received today, could have two reasons.

One is that the person just didn't connect yesterday or

two, she couldn't remember my name and didn't want to admit it.

Or it could be that she didn't figure I was someone that could help her. Whatever.

When you go to a networking event, please be purposeful when you meet people. It helps your credibility.

Have you had similar situations happen for you?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Is it Gender or Not?

Ivan Misner, Chairman of BNI (Business Network International) is in the process of writing a book about the differences in the way men and women network. You can participate in a survey that will help create the results in the book. Go to here to do it.

I think it should be interesting to find out what, if any, differences exist.

While, in general, it seems that men are more bottom line oriented -- is that just a fallacy? Is it really just a certain personality trait, rather than gender trait.

I must tell you that when I called on CPAs in the Detroit area during much of the '80s and '90s, most of the people I called on and networked with were of the male gender. I found a wide cross-section of networkering types, even though you would certainly clump male and accountant into the bottom line type.

What is your experience?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

It Takes a Village

Last night was the big dance event at the library. I have written a previous post about it here.

Neal and I successfully performed last night, but it wasn't without a serious case of jitters on my part. This surprised me as usually I don't get nervous about performing.

But it takes a village.....

First of all, Lisa Richard, the administrator of the Way Library Foundation is the force behind making this HUGE event happen. I don't know how she keeps all the details straight, but she does. And she does it with a smile.

Matt Miller and Paulette are the owners of two side-by-side dance studios, that were the creative juices behind getting the other pros lined up and also getting us "celebrities" to look good.

Maggie Sullivan, my friend, the Traveling Jewelry Queen, went to great lengths to get a large rhinestone frog pin sent to me to wear as part of my costume last night. (see at the left on my shoulder.) I wanted something playful and the frog seemed just right.

My partner, Neal Hopkins, was a very patient teacher and incredibly talented choreographer for our routine. Neal was famous for making changes and each one made us better. I had laughingly told him that I knew he would change something right up to our performance and sure enough he changed the way we bowed after dress rehearsal on Friday night. (This is how he greeted me Saturday night with his costume change! The white tank and its message did not stay! It was Neal and his wife, Kim's way of getting me to relax and laugh. And Neal wanted to get a rise out of Lisa Richard, too.)

Salon Hazelton, a local Perrysburg salon, did our makeup and we looked groovy with the artfully applied colors. I did my own hair, but they also provided that service for several of the dancers.

The volunteers turned the library into NOT a library. The transformation was unbelievable, especially when the library continued to serve patrons until 2 PM on the day of the event. It boggles my mind as to how they get it all done. (See the ice statue of dancers to the left.)

The volunteers also staffed the "green" room for the dancers, making sure every one of our needs was handled last night. I truly felt very taken care of.

My best friend, Deanna and my kids arrived to help support me through the weekend, too.

It just shows what can happen when a strong group of people focus their energies on the good of all.

Thanks to all who helped us to be successful.