Friday, March 6, 2015

Connecting Points ---> Small World

I attended a luncheon this week hosted by the City Club, a Chicago organization.  As often the case when you don't buy a full table, I was seated randomly.  We all introduced ourselves before the program began.

One of the guests sitting on the other side of the table was the Chicago-based Consul General of the Netherlands, Klass van der Tempel.  After we completed going around with our table introductions, I mentioned to the Consul General I had recently taken an online Coursera class, Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Comparing Theory and Practice, taught by a professor at the Universiteit Leiden in the Netherlands. He asked about my professor's name. When I told him, he said they had previously worked together for three years and had stayed friends since.  

Connecting points like this one, even a half-world away, sure make it seem like a very small planet! Following the luncheon, the consul general and I stuck around for a few minutes talking about the professor and several other things. Conversations and relationships start much more easily when you find that common link. It transforms an often-awkward exchange into a more relaxed, personal-feeling one. 

Finding those connecting points comes naturally to some people. For others they need to train their minds. In a future post, I will share a form, I use with clients to help them raise their consciousness for finding those connecting points.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

"What do you do?"

You meet somebody; exchange names; almost always the next question: What do you do? Most people answer simply with the title on their business card. Next time, use that first opportunity meeting someone to make a lasting impression.

Follow these three dynamics to help you create something to make that happen:
  • Attention-getter
  • Content
  • Memory-make
Make your answer wow people to ask to hear more. Convey your company’s passion and your own.  Craft your content, the words that will capture attention and create a memory of you. And you only have 3-10 seconds to make that happen!

When I first started my firm I told people I did marketing consulting. Even bored myself with that answer! Over the years I have found several different ways to answer the question. Some of my favorites, ones that have started a connection that have led to actual opportunities:

Non-media public relations
Run a business dating service…fixing up businesses with each other
Maître d’ without a restaurant
Networking architect…helping design and build people networks

Almost every time I use one of these responses, people have asked me to tell them more, an opportunity to use my slightly longer elevator speeches. And I follow the same strategy with those 20-30 second responses: attention-getter, content, memory-maker.

If you really want to capture people’s interest and attention, prepare your answer now for the next time someone asks you, “What do you do?” If it works, use it again; otherwise re-craft it. And even it does work, keep thinking of new answers so you always sound fresh and excited about what you do. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Inside Story

Do you think of strategic networking and personal branding solely as an external strategy for building connections with people outside your company? Add a focus inside your company to generate rewards for both you and your company!

Some potential gains:
  1. Career advancement…building your brand and influential relationships will help keep you top-of-mind when opportunities arise
  2. More trusting relationships… faster review and approval from your superiors for your new project proposals and vendor selections
  3. More diverse networks of company relationships…opportunities to build better teams to face complex problems yielding more optimal decisions 
  4. More expansive company networks…greater sense of belongingness creating more company brand ambassadors and potentially reducing turnover

Other benefits from internal strategic networking and personal branding? Share your ideas in the comments here. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Visualize Your LinkedIn Network

Until September 1, 2014 LinkedIn offers you a great free tool to visualize your network:

Here's what mine looks like:
So what can you learn from a map of your connections? 

If you find most of your connections appear in one cluster, you have surrounded yourself with people just like you. That limits your perspective when you try to find answers to complex questions. Everyone thinks like you do! 

It can also have other negative impacts. For example, information about job opportunities often comes from people outside your closest relationships.  Your close connections frequently travel in the same circles, know the same people.

Maybe your map will show multiple clusters with gaps between them. Many of the ones people have shared with me look like flowers with long lines extending out from the center to a cluster at the end. If you find gaps like that, look to connect your contacts in different clusters in your network who will benefit from that introduction. Chances are, you will too!

As a Serial Connector™my network map shows several clusters with minimal gaps. By the way, see that little one hanging out to the left on my map; some friends from high school connected to me. I use Facebook for my social connecting.  

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Thin Line Between Connecting and Stalking

You often have the opportunity to discover connecting points prior to a planned or chance encounter with a person you want to meet. People typically research a company ahead of a sales call or a job interview. Plan ahead with your people research too.

Discovering a connecting point to an individual(s) you meet, will often make for a more relaxed, possibly even friendlier mood. Perhaps you both came from the same hometown or state; attended the same university; know some of the same people; share an interest. Maybe you find something particularly special about the person.

Be careful though not to cross that thin line between connecting and stalking.  Choose wisely the biggest impact connecting point you share from all the information you learned.  DON'T say everything you found during your conversation. You could frighten the person and transform the mood twice; first from tense to friendly; then by saying too many much, to suspicious and a lost opportunity. Save the extra connecting points for future interactions with that person.

If I want the option of using several connecting points, I will mention the source of my discovered connecting point, like a newspaper story.  I could then reference anything in that article without sounding like a stalker. Be careful again here that you don't say personal connecting points from additional sources.  The beware-of-stalker alarm will start blaring.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Strategic Networking - My Definition

Strategic Networking: A plan to strategically build a social network of relationships for achieving specific goals.

The core benefit, strategic networking transforms a typically random activity into planned actions, reducing wasted time while generating greater rewards; for people at all levels of their careers and all stages of their lives.  Taking a strategic approach makes the often dreaded need to network, enjoyable, even fun.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Let's talk networking...

"'Networking is the No. 1 unwritten rule of success in business,' she says as her mantra" (Sallie Krawcheck, January 31, 2014, Wall Street Journal).  As one of Wall Street's most powerful people, perhaps networking comes easily to her?  Probably her personality, natural skills, being extroverted all help.  Yet, many people not having those three characteristics also excel at networking. They also attribute their successes to the relationships they built throughout their lives.

Successful networkers, network strategically, either innately or by learning how. And you find the great networkers everywhere: in huge cities or small towns; working for large corporations or small non-profits; an office in the C-Suite or a work station on the factory floor; big universities or small colleges; living in mansions or subsidized housing. You don't need to be on a golf course to successfully network!

In future posts, you will find thoughts about strategic networking and personal branding, the stuff you bring to the process.  The goal of this blog, to help you maximize your rewards:
  • extrinsic and intrinsic
  • short and long term
  • professionally and personally
  • to you individually and to your company or organization
Something you should realize, I will also benefit from you reading this blog.  My brand will improve if you like what I post, decline if you don't! A future post will discuss how your writing and where you decide to publish your words will contribute to your personal brand, both as an opportunity and a risk.

Please share your comments, thoughts and questions regarding any post.  I hope you find this blog helps you pursue your purpose, benefitting work and life.

Fred Siegman
Serial Connector™