Archive for August, 2011

Under-appreciated people, networking, and relationships

redwineIf you were to open my top left desk drawer you would find two things in it, a bottle of wine and a bottle of champagne. I don’t keep them in my drawer because they were left over from last years’ holiday party; they are there to thank others for their help making us successful.

Under-appreciated people
In the fast paced business environment prevalent today, I have found that people are generally under-appreciated. Think back over the past year about how many times you helped other people, perhaps it is a hundred or a thousand times? Now think about how many thank you notes you have received. I often ask this question when speaking on networking and have found that only about 5% of people in any given room have received a thank you note in the past three months!

Appreciation Benefits
Did you ever consider the benefits of taking the extra time to say thank you? Here are two benefits you may consider:

  1. Thanking people reinforces the behaviour you are thanking them for and increases the chances that that behaviour will be repeated in the future.
  2. Showing gratitude helps to build your relationship and differentiates you from the hundreds of other people that the other person works with.

Go buy some champagne
Consider taking a moment to ensure that others know that you are genuinely thankful for their efforts. The holiday season is a great time to start, but remember that it is something that benefits everyone regardless of the time of year.

Space Mountain

This past week I had the privilege of taking my oldest son Evan on his first roller coaster: Space Mountain at Disney World. It was one of those great moments in life when you get to re-live and pass along the feeling and experiences of growing up. I loved watching my boy in line as the mixture of excitement and nerves left his heart racing and hands shaking. Personally, I’m grateful that Space Mountain wasn’t my first roller coaster; I still remember my first ride on Space Mountain with my dad as we fell, spiraled, and turned in the dark never knowing what was going to happen next. I wondered what was in store for Evan after the ride: would this be his last roller coaster for several years or was he going to get “hooked?” As we started the climb listening to the clack, clack, clack of the ascent I reached forward and put my hand on his shoulder.

I think that we have all been there, waiting in hopeful anticipation of the first exhilarating moment after having made a decision to strap ourselves into something new. It is a feeling that I can only refer to as being truly alive. I used to believe that those moments came to us with less and less frequency the older we became, yet this past week I realized that we can gain even more satisfaction when we help others to reach the places that we have already been. It isn’t a replacement for that moment in our lives, instead it is a natural progression that again leaves you with the feeling of being truly alive.

As we got off the ride Evan was undoubtedly feeling the exhilaration of life, but I was enjoying the fulfillment and contentment of helping him experience something new. Walking away Evan grabbed my hand and thanked me for keeping my hand on his shoulder, then he quickly changed the topic in true boy fashion by half yelling “Dad that was AWESOME!”

When was the last time you truly felt alive?

What NOT to do when networking

I was at a networking function the other day and was reminded of the humorous and not-so-humorous things that people do when they are at networking events. Here is a quick list of things that you should avoid the next time you are out at a networking event:

  • Talking about the traffic or weather is ok, but it is a conversation killer if it goes on longer than 45 seconds.
  • If you are not a salesperson DO NOT SELL. Remember, networking is about building relationships.
  • Don’t be an excessive name dropper. Name dropping once or twice in a conversation can be beneficial as you work to identify mutual relationships, but be careful not to name drop in excess as others might find it annoying.
  • It is proper etiquette to wait until you understand what someone does for a living before you exchange business cards. It also keeps you from looking like you are more interested in collecting cards than building relationships.
  • Limit your drinking; a good rule of thumb is one drink per hour. This keeps you sharp and ready for the next conversation.
  • Don’t give someone that you just meet a brochure. It makes you look like a salesperson rather than a future friend. Brochures are for follow-up.
  • Finally, please don’t look for someone else to talk to while you are engaged in conversation. Believe it or not people can tell that you looking over their shoulders.

Remember that networking is about relationships, not events. Networking is not usually stressful if you are focusing on building relationships and having fun. If you are temped to “work the room” consider a new career in sales. If you want to build mutually beneficial relationships that will help your career and your company, just be yourself and look for ways to help everyone that you meet.  —  What would you add to the list?