Monday, April 29, 2013

I Can Read You Like a Book!

It seems like I've run into a bad patch as far as my choices for reading. I think I've taken three books back to the library without completely reading to the end...or not even close for that matter.  It rarely happens that I let a book get the best of me, but with all the books in the world why should I waste my time on ones I don't like?

OK, so I know what you're thinking, what's this got to do with networking? Well I think we can all have a rough patch with meeting with people, too.  Maybe the last three you've met with have been absolutely obnoxious and you just want to throw in the networking towel.   Remember, just like books, there are millions to choose from.  Just move on to another selection!

What is the absolutely worst networking appointment you've ever had?  What about the best?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Who Do You Want?

It's remarkable what you get when you just ask for it.

Wednesday during our Connext Nation class, I asked each student to give us one person or type of person they would like to share a lunch chat with.  All seven students were able to articulate what they wanted.  As a result, one other student committed to talking with someone who might fit that profile. We are planning to have a reunion lunch a couple weeks after class ends and the invited guests will come to that meeting.  I was really proud of the students.  They all got it that in order to get help they have to both give help and also be able to define exactly what their needs are.

Would you have an answer to the question of ,"What person do you want to meet?"

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What Are Ya' Doin' Sitting' There?

I've been at a couple networking meetings within the past couple weeks, where when I arrived (and I typically arrive early) everyone was sitting down. Let me tell you how I felt when I walked in. My first inclination was to turn around and run!

You see, when people sit down at a networking event, it means I have to approach their back, peer around their shoulder, catch their attention and then introduce myself. There is risk because I can't see their face to determine whether they look like a friendly individual or an old grump. Just for your information, old grumps aren't fun!

If you want to meet people, present the side of you that people can talk to! It's as simple as that. Now I know that some networking events include a meal and that complicates the whole process. But here is my rule, don't sit down until the organIzer of the event says to.

Of course, if you only goal was to eat lunch, then go ahead and sit down. I promise I won't bother you!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Refreshingly Clear!

The other day thanks to an invitation from Cindy Hauff at H.O.T. Printing and Graphics, I spoke at the Ad Club of Toledo and I really had a lot of fun with that group.  Before the meeting started, I had the opportunity to chat with several members and guests.  One that stood out for me was Michael Sell of Outdoor Business Network.  He is the Director of Sales & Marketing for that company.  He told me that they help those companies that represent activities in the outdoor world such as gun companies or fishing equipment companies, etc to help them to reach their customers, especially through the electronic world of websites and social media.

I immediately had a good idea of what he did and also who his customer was and the conversation was no longer than two minutes.  I told Michael that I really was impressed.  He knows who his target market is and was able to articulate it.  Additionally, he knows where and how to market the company
.  He also knows the challenges that might be facing that market, especially with gun control issues. Knowing those issues can help Outdoor Business Network to make decisions that will keep them flexible in the future.  Bravo!  In fact you can't see me but I am giving them a standing ovation.

It was so refreshing because I can tell you that I talk to a lot of business people in the website/social media world who say that they can do anything for anyone.  As I'm sure Outdoor Business Network can provide services to anyone, BUT they know the power of focusing on one market.  Granted the outdoor world is a huge segment, but they have become known experts in that area and now are being called to provide websites for some big companies because they have built their reputation in the marketplace.

Having a clearly defined target market is the first step in figuring out a strategic approach to networking. It tells you who you have to network with!

What is your target market?  Please don't tell me small business people.  You're just foolin' yourself with that one.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

From First to Home Without Batting

I know that I am old school, but I don't link with anyone on Linkedin or Facebook unless I've actually met them previously.  If the objective of these platforms was to have as many people "connected" to me, I'm still not sure whether I would do it.

Here's why.

People are idiots.  Oh, OK, I'll be nice, people act idiotically.

This past week I linked with someone by mistake because his name is very close to another person I know.  So I accepted the invitation thinking it was my acquaintance. 

I guess the Linkedin police aren't going to get me, but they should go after the person I linked with.

You see, I received an email that said, 
"Thank you for linking with me now let me write four long paragraphs about what it is that I do and oh, by the way, perhaps we could work with each other sometime in the future."

Whoa baby!

I don't know this person, nor does he know me.  I might be the female version of the Boston Strangler.

Enough said.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Huh? What'd You Say?

How do you start a conversation?  I just never know!

Last night I went to a political reception.

Not my usually cup of tea, but I went to support a friend.

So I was just standing there waiting for hubby to meander back so we could leave.

I had talked with quite a few people already, but was just standing there when a gentleman came up and introduced himself.

Because of my hearing loss, it is difficult for me to hear people in that hard-surface type of setting.

I had to ask him to repeat his name.  I explained my hearing issue.  That launched us into a conversation about hearing aids.  I was wearing mine, he was not wearing his.

But we had a nice chat and he even gave me a good stock tip.  Well, actually he gave it to my husband thinking I wouldn't be interested.  But I got to ask enough about it to satisfy my curiosity.

So who would think that a conversation could go from name to hearing aids to stock tips in just a couple minutes.

That's what I love about networking.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

So what do you want?????

Today in class we talked about asking for help and yesterday at the monthly Connext Nation lunch in Findlay we also visited that subject.  So I guess that is the theme of the week!

At lunch, CN grad, David Trisel, lead the exercise, asking each one of us to write down 5 or 6 items that we needed help with.  He said it could be business or personal.  We then partnered and the goal was to help our partner with at least one of those requests.

I was lucky.  Jamie Wilkinson-Franks asked me for dinner menu ideas.  Now I have to tell you that I am not Susie homemaker, but I do have a couple really easy and yummy dinners in my repertoire.  The one I shared with her is steamed Talipia over matchstick vegetables.  The most time spent in the prep is cutting the redskin potatoes into matchsticks!  She did buy the Talapia last night and will try the recipe within the next couple days.  I feel like a hero!

I asked her to comment on a post in the blog and she has done that already for me.

The lesson learned by both of us is to ask for specifically what you want and probably somebody can help you!

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Not Exactly What I Want

OK, I'm frustrated.  I asked a member of the staff of a networking group, to look at a short list of members to see which ones listed he would be willing to personally introduce to me.

The return email identified two people to whom he was willing to send an email about me.

While I am grateful for any help I can get, that type is barely on the helping scale.

We all know what is going to happen with those emails.  I will be copied.  Then when I try to reach out to suggest an appointment to connect over coffee, they will defer.  Usually their schedule is "too busy right now."

I don't blame them.  I'm sure that they've experienced throw-up appointments from others in the past.  They think I will do the same.  We all know that I won't, but they don't know that!


There I feel better...just a little.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

How to Measure

At one of my speaking engagements in the last couple weeks, one person asked how you measure networking relationships.  Wow!  Such a short question that requires a complex answer.  For the sake of quick read I will give the Reader's Digest version.

Usually we inherently know the strength or level of relationships without thinking too much about it. 

Our best friends are at the highest level

and then

acquaintances are down a couple notches. 

Of course those new people that we've just met are at the very elementary level.

Keeping these above examples in mind when going about business networking is helpful.

Those who you known for awhile and who you know you can trust, are like best friends.  You can count on them to be helpful and do what they say they are going to do!

Others you've met just a couple times, are similar to acquaintances.  We need to get to know each of them better so we know whether they are best friend material.

And finally, that person you just met at the networking event, they have a ways to go to begin moving up the relationship ladder.

That is a simple answer.  So now each person you know can be "rated" and then once that is done, you can decide what to do to increase the level of the relationship.

Not rocket science, but helpful.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

My Old Friends at Home

Susan Edinger, asked a great question about networking that I'm sure many people have wondered about. She explained, "It seems that people in the job search are reluctant to let their network know they are actively in the search."  She goes on to add, "I'm wondering if the issue is the fear of rejection."

For approximately 5 or 6 years, I spoke monthly to a group of people being helped by Right Management to find their next job.  My talk was to help those clients think about the contacts they already had that they could use to help them gain the next opportunity.  What was really interesting to me was almost each one had never left his or her office to network and had left previous connections lie fallow.

Obviously it felt awkward to now try to awaken those relationships.

So a commercial break here!  A word to the wise.  Continue to stay connected with old friends and acquaintances.  When you need help, you probably will have already provided that very same help for them previously.  Then it's not so awkward to ask for help now.  End of break!

A real conundrum.  But not so much.  In my opinion most people like to help.  If you let people know of your situation, that you are in the job market, they will probably help if they can.  And they won't begrudge you. Take an old colleague to lunch or to coffee if that's what you can afford.  Make sure you pay.  Listen and take notes.


Before long, these lunches will begin to pay off in new connections that might help.  You just never know.