As tough as things have been for most of us these past few years (we’re definitely included in this), I feel that I have so much for which to be grateful this Thanksgiving and now just need to know to whom I write the thank you card?
Between finally getting out of dreary and “frosty” Seattle, thanks to Keith (my incredibly creative and talented husband) landing an
amazing opportunity at what we’re pretty certain is his dream interactive agency in San Francisco, and a healthy and happy enough circle of family and friends, I thought I had been blessed enough. However, by seriously shaking things up in our lives and shifting the energy around this year, it appears the universe is now directing some of that famous California sunshine on the many seeds I’ve planted these past few years.
So, why do I want to share some of what I have to be grateful for today? Well, beside it being Thanksgiving, and simply wanting to share my excitement over recent events, I think it is worth explaining that the type of content creation, publicity and media exposure I share below demonstrates what I can also do for my clients. It took plenty of hard, smart and efficient work, and a little bit of good fortune, but it was mainly strategy, tactics and persistent follow-up that made most of what I share below happen.
Some of the most significant sprouting is around my writing and content creation in the form of the little seedling that is my book, “I’m at a Networking Event–Now What???” I’d say this little sprout is well on its way to becoming a nice sturdy plant and I have my incredible network of friends, family, contacts, colleagues and fans for helping me get the word out and consistently supporting my efforts in promoting my networking manifesto. Plus, doing a few 12 Rules of Effective Networking webinars for some non-profits has brought me more good karma than I ever could have imagined and has enabled me to reach way more people than the number of folks that have attended my PIF (pay it forward) Parties to date. I’ve seen the direct correlation between those webinars and the opportunities that have recently come my way, as well as the new Facebook fans, Twitter followers, Bella Domain Networking group members on LinkedIn, email/blog subscribers and more.
Earlier this year, I was also fortunate enough to get selected as a columnist for WomenEntrepreneur.com where recently my third article for my Networking is Connecting column was recently picked up by FoxNews.com (of all places). Then, within a few days of that happening, and thanks to a Google alert, I found out that my book was in the #1 spot on the Inc.com 2010 Holiday Gift Guide for business books! Whah?? Such a gift! And with any luck, I’ll soon get to break-even with my publisher, Mitchell Levy of Happy About!
(Soon after the above we noticed that my book was finally ranked less than 100K on Amazon again and was ranked #44,867! It had been in the coveted less-than-100K rank soon after it was released, about a year ago this month.)
Lastly, after spotting the Inc.com recognition, and a few days of jumping up and down with excitement, yesterday, I learned (thanks to another Google alert) that, most likely due to all the activity around these things, I was the featured columnist on the WomenEntrepreneur.com home page (see below)! Sweet!
Now, to whom do you think I should write the thank you card?? Kind of a hard call isn’t it? Happy Thanksgiving all and please let me know if there is anything I can help YOU be thankful for by next Turkey Day!
In this next meeting, we’ll be joined by a good friend of Career Horizons and one of the top local experts on professional networking, Sandy Jones-Kaminski of Bella Domain. Having recently published her new book, mentioned above, Sandy has agreed to come share some of her top tips about how to win friends and influence people in the modern marketplace. A huge proponent of the “pay it forward” philosophy, she’ll be discussing some personal stories of how she’s leveraged her network of relationships to great effect and how her constant attempts to assist others have brought her many levels of personal/professional prosperity, in return. It should be an exciting discussion, and in the first hour of the meeting, we’ll also be engaging in some networking exercises and icebreakers designed to help all of you make some new acquaintances and become more effective at this important interpersonal aspect of the job search process.
One of the things I reviewed with the group had to do with some networking myths (included below) which I believe I adequately debunked during the presentation. My goal was to set the stage for all 47 of his guests to read the gift copy of my book (he provided them) with a much more open mind. Based on the feedback I received at the end of the event, as well as Matt’s kudos, it appears I did fairly well and I think I even achieved my goal!
What a great time I had and what a wonderful group this was to be part of today! Thanks so much Matt – you’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger fan than moi!
|Myth #1: Networking means you’re looking to use people to achieve selfish goals, or opportunistically ask people for help. REALITY: The definition of the word network according to The Oxford Dictionary:nétwerkn. & v. a group of people who exchange information, contacts, and experience for professional or social purposes.
Networking can be defined as one’s efforts to create this group, and of course it can be done honestly and considerately!
|Myth #2: You have to be a born networker or a natural at it. REALITY: The skills needed to be an effective networker can be learned by anyone. Get comfortable asking folks you meet, “So, what are you working on these days?” or, “What do you need help with right now?” Then, just read my new book titled, “I’m at a Networking Event—Now What???” for more ways to further develop your networking muscle.|
|Myth #3: You must have above average charisma to be a good networker. REALITY: You merely need to be thoughtful, sincere and genuinely helpful. You get offered a job or opportunities from people who are trusting of you. There IS a hidden job market out there, but you have to be willing to be open and giving to be part of it.||Myth #4: You have to be a good talker or an overly chatty “schmoozer” to be a good networker. REALITY: The truth is it is almost the exact opposite. According to Guy Kawasaki, co-founder of Garage Technology Ventures, Forbes columnist, and author of the recently published, Reality Check, “The mark of a good conversationalist is not that you can talk a lot. The mark is that you can get others to talk a lot. Thus, good schmoozerʼs are good listeners, not good talkers.”|
I just received confirmation that my first “real” book is NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON, so I felt it appropriate to commemorate the occasion with a blog post that explains why I wrote the book in the first place.
Also, since I’ve started having to explain what my new book is about to total strangers (airplane seatmates, wedding table mates, and so far 1 press person – OMG!) I’ve become acutely aware of exactly what it is about the book that initially appeals to the folks that don’t know me or what I refer to as my “How do you not know this?” corner of the world. So, I thought I’d share a few of the questions I’ve been asked and how I answered them.
Stranger: So, what’s your book about?
Me: Well, the title is, “I’m at a Networking Event—Now What???” (I usually then pause and wait for the giggling to subside). It’s a practical guide to getting the most out of any networking event, and if you read it you’ll feel like you spent some time with a fairly entertaining, tell-it-like-it-is networking coach.
Stranger: What made you want to write a book about networking?
Me: There were 2 things:
1) I was tired of all the bad behavior I was encountering at the majority of the networking events I’d been attending and I also wanted to help the folks in the 80% group of the Pareto Principle out there that just don’t seem to be fans of the activity. I’ve found that besides some of them being shy, most usually aren’t fans as a result of having been on the receiving end of some of the aforementioned bad behavior such as watching someone scan the nametags of others while they’re supposedly listening to you, and
2) Then, there’s the fairly well-documented phenomenon in the Seattle area called the “Seattle Freeze” (you can Google this) which relates to the arms-length-only friendliness of the Puget Sound area in general, and the lack of genuine welcome many new settlers to the area often experience.
Both factors motivated me to start hosting what I started calling Pay It Forward (PIF) Parties, and then I wrote a few white papers earlier this year on my “12 Rules of Networking.”
The response to the above generated lots of interest (1200+ downloads of my white paper), as well as the encouragement to write a book, and that gets us back to where I started. As I was working on the book, I was always on the lookout for supporting evidence for my own theories and beliefs about networking best practices, and while I liked to think of them as rules (as in etiquette), I kept finding proof that they’re also the most effective.
For instance, one of the studies I site in the book comes from the folks at Upwardly Mobile Inc. and the Graziadio School of Business Management at Pepperdine University. They conducted a study on the habits of what they call, “elite networkers” and their behaviors as they relate to networking in general.
Finding worth sharing #1:70% of executives credit networking as THE activity that leads to career opportunities, and 75% of study respondents said they spend fewer than two hours each week directly managing their networks. Bottom line: If done right, you can spend a manageable amount of time on it.
Have you actually developed reciprocal and quality relationships with your contacts? Can you count on them when you need a favor? Do they know that you’re there for them when they need the favor? These are the key questions most elite networkers can answer positively.
Finding worth sharing #2:Not surprisingly, the study notes that most people approach networking fairly ineffectively. They focus on quantity of contacts instead of the most important factor—the depth of the relationship (or my interpretation – trust between the 2 parties a.k.a. good social capital[*].
I’ve noticed loads written about whether people will recommend you or not as the ideal measure, and while that matters if your only goal for networking is getting more leads (whether they be job or biz/sales related), I believe that good social capital should be the real goal. I strive to cultivate quality relationships that often turn into friendships where a natural by-product is that I know when/if I need some help or a favor I can unhesitatingly reach out and ask for what it is I need, actually receive it directly or indirectly, and then work to make certain that others know they can count on the same from me.
But back to the idea that “It’s not you, it’s them.” I also wrote my book because I wanted to encourage reluctant networkers to recognize that it’s not their fault that the person scanning the other nametags is doing so. You’re not boring — they’re just RUDE! And, I believe that we can help rehabilitate these people at the networking events we attend by “flipping the script,” and instead of being passive and waiting for someone to ask what brought you to the event, so that you can launch into what probably feels like a canned elevator pitch you may have even paid some coach to develop for you, you can act as if you’re walking into a gathering of your closest friends, and simply beat the other person to the punch and ask them what they’re working on these days and whether they need help with anything in their life right now. The idea is that by setting the example of showing genuine interest, and potential assistance, the recipient will hopefully follow your lead and respond in kind so you can actually have a meaningful conversation. And, if they don’t, you’ve just learned that you should save yourself a whole bunch of time, follow-up and trouble, and politely move on.
Based on my own experience, many of the Google alerts I’ve been reading, and the popularity of the PIF Parties I’ve hosted or attended, offering help to others first appears to be an approach that’s really starting to catch on. Hopefully, my book will provide the encouragement to get folks confidently back out there, and maybe I’ll get to meet them at an event soon because, quite frankly, I’m a little tired of running into most of the same usual suspects (a.k.a the 20%) at the networking events I attend. I welcome the opportunity to meet some new people in the New Year!
[*] Social capital is defined as the resources such as information, ideas or support that individuals are able to procure by virtue of their relationships with other people. The uniqueness of social capital is that it is relational…it only exists when it is SHARED.
How often do you find yourself on the receiving end of someone try to convince you that you could leverage the useless thing/service/contact or whatever they’re trying to “offer” you? If I had a dollar for every time this happens to me, my 401(k) would undoubtedly be back where it used to be.
I simply do not understand why people just don’t ask you what it is you need help with…..? Do they think that maybe you don’t actually know? Do they really think they know more than you do about what it is you really need? Are they afraid that they won’t be able to help you with what it is you really need and then can’t possibly ask you for what it is they need help with (and perhaps the real reason for the coffee invite)?
This is yet another topic I touch on in my “12 Rules of Networking for 2009 white paper.” Networking Rule #3 Offer Help to Others First speaks to the idea that once you get past the initial pleasantries when you’re at a networking event or meeting someone for coffee, ask the other person what it is they need help with these days. It’s really that simple, just ask. DON’T assume ahead of time that you know what they’re challenged by right now, and then find yourself obviously and awkwardly trying to offer something that is completely off base, or even worse, pretty clearly self-serving.
And what happens if you can’t immediately offer help to them in the area in which they need it? Nothing. You just assure them that you will keep it top of mind and maybe even thank them for letting you know exactly how you can help them. Try it. I think you’ll be surprised how soon you might come across the thing they need, or maybe then be asked what it is you need help with, or maybe you won’t, it doesn’t matter. You were just given a golden opportunity to pay it forward down the road. Be grateful and have a little more faith in the universe.
NOTE: But remember, if someone asks you for something you actually make a living doing, don’t forget to mention that you’ll have to send them an invoice if you provide it!Read More