Tag Archives: networking

The Box of Chocolates – Four steps to building a network with the ‘right’ people

My last blog about the life of a ‘Connector’ prompted some great discussions amongst my LinkedIn groups and raised a good question/point.  Everyone seems to agree that it is more important to know the ‘right’ people rather than ‘a lot’ of people.  The mystery seems to lie in how do you go about identifying, meeting, developing and nurturing a networking relationship with them?

To quote a classic movie icon – “Life is a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”
gold_box_lg_green

That being said, you can choose the drug store Whitman Sampler OR Swiss-made, The Ecstasy of Gold from DeLafée.  But, how do you even get to the point where the box in front of you is certainly filled with quality, unique, compelling – worth the calories – chocolate?

Ready for the answer?

It’s not universal, some people can and do get around the natural order of things, but the reality is that for most it STARTS with the Whitman Sampler and evolves into Ecstasy.

I’ll be more specific – what follows here is my suggested path to the ‘gold’.

  1. Gather – At the beginning of your networking career you will be served well by meeting a lot of people.  And, this is by no means an easy feat.  When I say ‘meet’ I mean – schedule time, have coffee, ask questions – professional and personal. Get to know the person, make a point to keep in touch and add value.
  2. Research – LinkedIn is a fantastic tool by which to sample the goods.  You can tell a great deal about someone by their profile and better yet, by their recommendations should they have them.  If you’ve done #1 for a while and well, you’ll be lucky enough to know someone who knows the individual you are interested in and can get an introduction.
  3. Leverage – As you keep in touch with your growing network remind those that you find impressive that you are always open to meeting interesting and compelling people.  Never sell your services during these opportunities – you’ll have a higher likelihood of getting that coveted introduction.
  4. Reciprocate – You start to get requests – if you’ve done your groundwork, consistently and have added value along the way the phone will ring.  The word will get around that you are someone worth knowing – worth the investment. I firmly believe the greatest gift we give one another is our time – make it worthwhile; for both of you.

As you stumble-upon high quality people, they will in turn suggest others  – let’s face it, good people know good people.  Before you know it your network will resemble The Ecstasy box of chocolates where you know no matter which one you choose you’ll be certain of the quality.

Hoping this week’s MarketingSmack’s filling is rich and worthy of your time.  www.marketingsmack.wordpress.com

Sometimes You’re the Windshield…..(the life of the ‘Connector’)

I was looking for a lost email yesterday when I stumbled upon an online introduction I made in August of 2006.  I chuckled while reading it – in it I state:

Given my conversations with each of you, I think the two of you would benefit from knowing one another.  Consider yourselves introduced.  Would love to hear how it turns out.”

Fast forward three and a half years and I find myself in the midst of re-branding their co-founded company, Innovalyst.

I wish I could say all my connections end up in such a lucrative way – both financially and personally – as my relationship with these two individuals has grown and flourished over the years.

But alas, being a “connector” as defined by Gladwell in his Tipping Point book has not always proved so.  Case in point, a couple of years back I had a client who provides a shipping software solution for 3PLs, shippers, brokers and carriers.  We had a great working relationship and to this day I can call on Geoff to be a reference on my behalf – or at least I hope so, after this blog.  Well, at some point I met someone over coffee who gave me a sixth-sense type feeling and within days of that coffee I sent one of my ‘Consider yourselves introduced’ emails to both of them.

bug-gooFast forward again – this time about a year or so and my coffee networking buddy became Geoff’s CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) and within his first week had the pleasure of firing me.  Ouch.  Not personal – but not fun.

I can’t stop connecting people – it would be like asking me to stop eating Oreo’s dunked in milk.  It doesn’t even seem to be a frontal lobe activity anymore – sometimes I just know two people need to meet.  The real question is can you monetize your gift or is it a loss leader – so to speak?

If Hugh and Paul had not met would there be an Innovalyst?  And, even though Les fired me and I have not subsequently seen revenue from Transite  – is it money in the karmic bank so to speak?

Or as my friend Janet, reminded me just now on the phone – sometimes you’re the windshield; sometimes you’re the bug.

Like a moth to a flame – my hopes are you will rush right out and get SMACKED, weekly.  www.marketingsmack.wordpress.com

As an aside: My friend Janet is the President of KJAS, parent company of  Ethical Advocate,  who also has developed a long-term business relationship via one of my connections.  See, I told you I can’t stop.

The Emperor is Naked

So, my son is at the age now where the barrage of more difficult, nuance-filled, questions is popping up.  Curiosity of the subtle is beginning to tax my creative capacity to deliver explanations.  It’s innocent enough, a fairy tale – one of Andersen’s most popular about an emperor who unwittingly hires two swindlers to create a new suit of clothes for him.  And, while my son is still too young to truly ‘get’ the full power of the metaphor, he is starting to question and wonder why no one was brave enough to save the duped, exposed emperor.

The recession is over, according to the experts – (i.e. economists).  In a recent Newsweek article, the New York University economist Nouriel Roubini predicts the recovery will feel like a recession at about 1 percent growth over the next few years.  The real sting – where most of us our ‘taking it’ – the unemployment rate, now at 9.8%, continues to rise.  The supposed stimulus period has had little effect on actual job creation and I think that the grand ‘good-news-only’ marketing claims of over one million jobs created or saved are actually going to tick people off.  While clearly high on the Disruptive ConversationTM scale of impact not quite meeting the evidence-based marketing criteria, if you ask me. 

As the Market Builder for Summit, I spend a great deal of time networking and making connections.  I am not exaggerating when I say that a –what I deem to be significant percentage of my network – has at some point in time in the last year to year and a half sent me an email requesting my assistance in their new job search.  Sad to report I have had a couple of those people send out more than one of those types of emails over the course of that same time period. 

Are we, as a collective unconscious, allowing the emperor to run around indecently?  I have orchestrated several networking lunches.  These fabulous opportunities to sit across the table from five other professionals over lunch and in an informal, more intimate setting, get to know one another.  Everyone is looking for the same thing—the addition of a client, a new job, a contracting opportunity—but at the same time smiling optimistically and not acknowledging the cold breeze that pierces through the magical threadless suit.

What are your thoughts? What are you looking for?

Don’t ignore the big elephant in the room pushing that MarketingSmack at you.  Get it at www.marketingsmack.wordpress.com or visit us at  www.summitstrategypartners.com.

Dating vs. Networking – turns out they’re more alike than not.

How do you get noticed?  How do you get mindshare?  And most importantly how do you get chosen?

I’m an avid networker.  I try to spend time with at least eight new people a month AND re-connect with five.  It’s something I enjoy – and let’s face it – it helps keep Summit on people’s minds.

Individual one-on-ones take time, energy and effort to maintain.  It’s not unlike dating. (Of course, not everyone agrees.) There are other strategies that would allow me to get my message out to many at once (and clearly I employ some of those as well – like this blog and Summit’s FaceBook Page).  But in my experience the individual relationships I foster and maintain are what keeps my company’s pipeline full.

Here are my very strict rules of engagement:

  1. Always find a way to be introduced by someone they know
  2. Always ask personal and professional questions (the personal information helps me ‘remember’ people better)
  3. Always ask what you can do for them (and follow-through)
  4. NEVER sell your services

Let me re-state that – I NEVER sell my services at one of these meetings.

Last summer, three-quarters of the way through a ‘get to know you’ meeting, my colleague began asking specific questions about how Summit might be able to help his company.  What specific services might I recommend and why?  I very politely refused to engage in the conversation.  I told him that I wasn’t there to sell him services. “But what if I want to talk about your services?” was his response.  I told him I’d be happy to set-up a subsequent meeting to have that discussion.

At 9 a.m. the next morning an email came over with the subject line – “Now, can we talk about your services?”  He’s been a client ever since.

Of course, not every meeting turns out like that, but enough ‘first dates’ turn into relationships to keep Summit humming along.

Let us know about your relationship with work. Tell us how you get picked up. And leave the one stand talk out of it!

Wake up in morning with a little MarketingSMACK at www.marketingsmack.wordpress.com, or visit us at: www.summitstrategypartners.com.

Jack

Illegal Breast Stroke

I am having a dickens of a time keeping my personal life out of the Summit blogs. I guess, at the end of the day, I have one life. That being said……

Last week I had my first official ‘adult swim lesson’. I decided I needed to add something else to my already-lengthy list of exercise routines. I made a barter arrangement with a very successful triathlete and training coach, Stacey Richardson. (See how cleverly I am holding up my end of the barter agreement by promoting her services in this blog?)

It took me about 10 minutes, and unfortunately I am NOT exaggerating, to figure out how to put on the one-piece Speedo. Then, there was the ‘how do these flippin’ goggles go on my head’ struggle? Needless to say I screamed ROOKIE to all those calm, capped graceful swimmers. And when Stacey said “Show me your breast stroke” I felt my heart race and muscles tense. I was in foreign waters—literally. I knew it and my performance reflected my uncertainty.

Ready for the great leap to the world of business?

I have this conversation with almost everyone I meet. “There’s no point in jumping in to the deep end if you don’t prepare yourself, at least to the best of your ability, for success.”

The other side of that coin is that even when you have prepared — you’re wearing the right suit and goggles (or you have spent time with your customers and ‘wish list’ customers to understand what they want and what speaks to them) — there is still a level of uncertainty and risk when the ‘show me your stuff’ moment hits.

While occasionally you may be called out on your ‘illegal breast stroke kick’, the fundamental ingredients: understand your target, speak your Disruptive ConversationTM, know who else is talking to your audience and what is being said, rely on the conduits your target trusts for information and deliver that information the way they want it–will give you a competitive advantage over most of the others in your pool.

This type of preparation is essential. And when it comes time to show-off that breast stroke, you won’t come up gasping for air.

(P.S. Anticipating all those wise-guy remarks: I know, I know, we put on our bathing suits one leg at a time.)

Paris Calling…

A few months back, Paris Delane, a musician who had been part of one of my favorite bands, Sonia Dada, found me on FaceBook and requested to ‘friend me’. I accepted. Shortly after that he became a FAN of my company page Summit Strategy Partners on FaceBook and started reading my blogs.

 I thought that was neat.

 Last Sunday evening while I was enjoying some ‘me’ time complete with sashimi, sauvignon blanc and an episode of Buffy, he called. I was surprised, to say the least. Paris shared with me his gratitude for his success and his desire to give back and help others reach theirs. Towards the end of our 20 minute call he requested that I send him an email describing my company, its services and showcasing Summit’s Disruptive ConversationTM

 Paris offered to help promote Summit Strategy Partners to many of the influential people he has been fortunate enough to meet and befriend over the course of his long career. I thanked him, got off the phone and ran to the refrigerator to check how much of that sauvignon was STILL in the bottle. The next day I wrote that email, first thing, and sent it to Paris with a ‘thanks’.

 Many people tell me I am a consummate networker – a maven and a connector.

 My perspective is that you should approach networking with the mindset to help the person you’re networking with. Give, rather than take.

 One of my biggest thrills is to introduce people who then go on to make great things happen for one another. Networking depends upon having a general plan for meeting the type of individual you can help and who can help you. But be open for the Paris’s of the universe.

 Since that Sunday call, Summit Strategy Partners’ FAN page has grown by 20 percent. And, I have a feeling it’s just beginning – hopefully, a blog or two from now I will be espousing the wonders of viral. Until then, I’ll just make sure the sauvignon doesn’t run out.