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Networking with real, live people


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A presentation given at a Society of Women Engineers conference.

A presentation given at a Society of Women Engineers conference.

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  • There is a Perception out there that Internet and increased communications makes our world more competitive, and therefore we have to improve ourselves and stand out from the crowd to succeed. Its very individualized.
    Conversely, we need to connect with people on a more personal level. Make this large world a small world. Improved communications technologies makes it easier to connect with people we might otherwise lose contact with , so let’s use that to our advantage.
  • The presentation will seek to answer the following questions: Why do we network? What should you know? What should be shared? What are the first steps? Who is the right crowd? What do you do at conferences? And How do you strengthen your connections? My hope is that with these ideas in mind, you can go ahead and start using them to work for you.
  • Many people do recognize the value of having an inside connection to get into a company, club or group. Having a manager's recommendation helps highlight your resume. This is the foot in the door value that most people associate with networking.
    Connecting should not stop once you're in. You will need those people and new people in order to succeed. One way I passively keep my connections inside my company is by keeping chocolate and candy at my desk. Everyone who knows me well, knows they can swing by to satisfy their sweet tooth, and I get a chance to chat with them briefly.
    Connecting with people is good for you, good for the camaraderie of your peers, and good for the company. You will benefit from your connections inside and outside of the company, and ultimately, people will help you succeed. This is the lesser-known secret of networking; you will be successful by connecting with others prior to needing something from them.
  • your success can only grow as big as your aspirations.
    Pg 28
  • Set some goals for yourself. They do not need to be of any particular size or directed at any topic. They can be weight loss goals, self improvement, getting a promotion, meeting three good resources, learning more about a topic youre not familiar with.
    Write them down. Statistically speaking, people who make goals are more likely to be successful than those that don’t, and even moreso, people who write down their goals are even more successful than those that don’t. Olson even suggests making a physical shrine to your goals, not just write them down. Make it so difficult to ignore, it literally stares you in the face. If you have to face it on a day-to-day basis, you are held accountable to it. I love the idea; I have yet to put it in practice, but I think it shows the extent to which we should be knowledgable about our goals.
    Turn your goals into a roadmap - don't just think about the destination, think about the journey and HOW you are going to get there. Understanding how you can achieve a goal is the first step to achieving it. This will give you things to discuss with people you meet, and will guide your decisions on WHO you need to meet. Without a roadmap, your goals are really just dreams.
    Kotter talks about the way managers work, and the premise of his book is that managers set agendas and then utilize their networks to put those agendas into action. Set your own agendas, personal goals, career goals and agendas specific to your current position.
    The Slight Edge is all about how little things get you to your goal. While we all want quantum leaps to the final result, the best way, and in many cases, the only way to achieve our goals is little by little. Making good, small decisions that accumulate into something massive. This can be applied to losing weight, home improvements, and to relationships and careers. Chunk it out, as I like to say, again making a road map and taking little steps towards your destiny. On the flip side, if you don't meet a mini-goal or you fail to make a good decision, don't give up. You're accumulated success is still much larger than your minute failure, and habits are only formed by repeating good behaviors.
  • Don't keep your goals secret, express them openly. Write them down and make them public. I have my new year's resolutions and goals on my facebook, as well as my life list. But I don't stop there, I talk about my life list and about my goals with people I meet. When I've accomplished something on my lists, I tell people all about it. I post pictures, write short stories and make a big deal about it.
    There is a surprising amount of generosity that can be found when you open up. Charities succeed not because people go out of their way to donate, but because somebody asks those people to donate.
    I once shared my love of spicy foods and peppers with a colleague who I otherwise was only vaguely acquainted with, and three weeks later she tracked me down to give me a bag full of hot peppers off of her friend's plant. Her generosity overwhelmed me, but I realized that she felt good for finding a purpose for peppers that were much too hot for her and her friends’ tastes. People like doing nice things, and they like being thanked. So I thanked her immediately and I thanked her a few days later when my roommate used the peppers to make an exquisite dish. She later brought me a fresh batch.
    Sharing interests can find common threads.
    I joined karate last year, and sharing my experiences with others made a personal bond through martial arts, between me and people I otherwise have little in common with. Every time I saw those people afterwards, they would ask me about my progress, and I would share a short story or anecdote about my experiences. It wasn't business-related, but it got us talking, and gave us a foundation for a good working relationship.
    You may be able to achieve your goals the hard way, but by sharing your goals and aspirations, others around you may provide advice, a contact or other resources to help you on your way.
    I decided I wanted to create a glass sculpture for my house. I mentioned this idea to a friend of mine who makes jewelry out of precious metals. I wasn’t expecting advice or help from her, as she never showed interest in glassblowing. But she mentioned she was about to start a glass bead making class to expand her jewelry skills, and that I should look into it. I did, and found that the glass bead making class was a pre-requisite for a glass blowing class, and the community center through which the classes were offered was relatively inexpensive. I would have never thought to look at the community center for such a class, and I had no idea my friend knew anything about glassblowing, but just by mentioning my interest, she got me on the path to success with little effort on my part.
  • Reciprocity is alive and well. This is not a dog eat dog world (or it is, but only to the dogs who chew up and spit out other dogs). Helping a person through a health issue, carving a path to wealth through a new job, new sales lead or new technology, and providing a service to a person will create a lasting notion of owing you something. Those people will jump at the chance to help you when you need it.
    People love to feel like others are interested in them. One of the easiest ways to earn a person's friendship is to ask them about themselves. Asking questions, and listening to the answers and asking follow up questions, makes them feel special and may give you insights into how you can help them or how they can help you.
    I found through questioning that a co-worker of mine loves to play golf. He is a beginner, but he will jump on any chance to play golf with someone. I do not know how to play golf, but had made it a goal of mine to do so, so he and I agreed to play golf together. This is a win-win situation, he benefited from a reason to play, and I got to learn how to play.
    Never underestimate a person's value in your network. If they are not in your line of work, they are even more valuable because they add a unique twist to your network.
    A mentor advised me to be very cautious when working with headhunters, because they are out to steal all your money and will pursue prey relentlessly. I came in contact with two such headhunters in a brief period of time, and I was open to learning more about the positions they were seeking to fill. Neither position was of interest to me, but I happened to have three friends that were looking for a job, any job, in the field. One friend had just been laid off and was having a hard time finding a new job, one friend was newly graduated and one friend just wanted out of her current job. I connected my friends with the headhunters, and the headhunters in return put my interests on their list. So I now have two headhunters actively looking for positions that would better appeal to me, and three friends who are grateful I pointed them in the direction of possible job opportunities.
    When you meet people that are higher up the ladder or further in their career, don't be fooled into thinking you have nothing to offer.
    My sister is a recruiter for a mining company, and I am an industrial engineer in supply chain management for an Aerospace company. Her boss’ boss asked to connect with me on LinkedIn. On the surface, I have nothing to offer a person so high up on the ladder and in a completely different industry, but then I found out her son just graduated with a supply chain management degree, and she tapped me for advice for her son, since she knew nothing about the field.
  • Jeff Olson, author of the Slight Edge, says typically you are the average of your five closest friends. If you associate yourself exclusively with college students or recent graduates, you will have a very entry-level viewpoint of your business and the world. If you have at least one mentor or friend that is further along in their career, more successful or just higher up in the ladder, you will benefit from a heightened perspective and motivation to achieve more.
    Kotter, author of General Managers, alleges that you don't have to be from a successful family to be successful, in fact, many top executives, CEOs and GMs are from relatively lower class families. Part of this, I believe, is because those people have drive, and they made connections with people who could help them. How many of you are from successful families? I practically followed in my dad's footsteps to a tee, because he was a successful exec. However, times are changing, and we need to realize that following successful patterns of 30 years ago won't work quite as well. We need to associate ourselves, as well, with more current success stories, and have mentors in all places of their careers, not just at the peaks or ends of their careers.
    Connect groups of people that wouldn't otherwise meet. Olson holds dinner parties and purposely invites people of different groups. He also separates couples using place cards. This enables your network to work on their own agendas and build on their networks, which further strengthens their connection with you.
  • Move away from "I need a job" and towards "I can help you with…"
    This applies to resumes too.
    DO THE RESEARCH and find out the names, positions and personal interests of people you would like to connect with. Don't expect to learn everything about them when you shake their hands for the first time. You generally have 10 seconds to form a good impression, try to get their attention immediately. Find a common interest and pounce on it.
    Only exchange business cards when you truly feel you have made an impression, and they are interested in following up with you. Nothing is more frustrating then seeing a stack of business cards of unmemorable names at the end of a conference. Instead, make a connection and then make a plan to connect again - on LinkedIn, facebook, or through e-mail. Try to make plans for your next meeting if possible, or what you will share with each other when you return to your home or office.
    Two of the MBA students I made the deepest connection with was at a Meet 'n Greet and we shared contact info because we had videos we wanted to share. Then, we continued having discussions via email until the next Meet 'n Greet, and suddenly we had friends that others at the Meet 'n Greets didn't, even though we were attending the same events.
  • Don't just facebook stalk your new contacts to see what they are doing. Invite them to partake in various activities. Everyone has to eat, so make lunch plans or host a dinner party, make a reason to go to happy hour or a wine tasting. Find a bond through sports and physical activity, like a morning run, a round of golf, tickets to a football game, yoga or martial arts classes, or swing dancing.
    Follow up. When someone does something for me, I thank them immediately, but I also follow up with card or a note that says not only how thankful I am, but how that has helped me.
    Even if they have not done anything for me recently, if I feel they are important to keep in contact with, and I fear we will easily lose touch, I will put a recurring task in my Outlook. The nice thing about this is you can decide precisely how often you want to follow up with them. For one person, I might choose to catch up with them every four weeks, for another, its seven weeks and another it might be 15 weeks. I review the last communication I had with them before sending another, and I ask them questions about things they mentioned.
    Don't just remind them of who you are, add value to the communication.
    Olson talked about a person who would take a picture with everyone he met at conferences, and then would send them the picture with a quick note. Likewise, another person would talk about music, and share something from his music collection in the follow-up email.
    Another idea is to find articles, websites or books that might interest that person. Send the link or information with a short explanation of why it made you think of them in particular.
    Use multiple methods of communication. Don't settle for just email, IM and text; call them from time to time, and meet in person once in a while. Send a card in the mail on their birthdays, or Christmas letters. If they are interested in your travels, send them a postcard. Send thank you cards.
    Olson makes sure he knows everyone's birthday, and calls them on their birthday even if he has to leave a message. People feel special when someone you barely know remembers your special day.
  • Olson talked about asking someone for help meeting a connection, and he refused, saying he needs that collateral for something personal and could not share it. Relationships don't work that way, you can't use up favors of people you connect with. If they are keeping score, than they probably aren't worth keeping as friends. Relationships are like muscles, they strengthen the more you use them. Page 19
  • If you are raising money for a cause you believe in, ask your contacts for support. Make sure to explain that there is no pressure, but that their contributions are valuable. Even though you are asking something of them, they will probably feel good about you considering them in your quest. Thank them individually when they do contribute.
    Likewise, if you are looking for information or opportunities, ask those contacts whom you consider experts or in the know. Tell them specifically why you thought of them, and again they will be flattered that you considered them, even as you are asking something of them.
    Connect the dots. Asking one person for their expertise, not for your own good but for a friend, selflessly flatters the expert and at the same time assists your friend AND makes you look like a generous friend to the expert. This is a win-win-WIN situation, because both those people are now better contacts of yours, the expert gets to share his knowledge (and everybody likes talking about themselves and their areas of expertise) and the other friend gets to learn.
    Don't hesitate to accept help. Getting a larger piece of the pie DOES NOT mean taking some of the pie from someone else. Good business practices, and indeed networking, make the pie bigger and create win-win situations. If it’s a good opportunity, take it without consideration of debt or obligatory payback. Remember, you're working towards a win-win situation, you are not taking somebody else's pie and you are not obliged to pay someone back immediately just because they help you. Furthermore, it may be helping them in some way already, like earning credibility by placing a competent professional in an otherwise empty position needing to be filled.
  • Why do we network? What should you know? What should be shared? What are the first steps? Who is the right crowd? What do you do at conferences? How do you strengthen your connections? My hope is that with these ideas in mind, you can go ahead and start using them to work for you.
  • Recap: Why do we network? What should you know? What should be shared? What are the first steps? Who is the right crowd? What do you do at conferences? How do you strengthen your connections? My hope is that with these ideas in mind, you can go ahead and start using them to work for you.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Networking with Real, Live People Laura Winger, CPIM, CSCP Operational Excellence Analyst, Honeywell Aerospace
    • 2. Networking with Real, Live People • • • • • • • • Why Know Share First Steps The Right Crowd At Conferences Strengthen Go Ahead
    • 3. WHY Network? • Foot in the door • Chocolate • Good for you, good for the company
    • 4. “Human ambitions are like Japanese carp; they grow proportional to the size of their environment. Our achievements grow according to the size of our dreams and the degree to which we are in touch with our mission.” - Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone
    • 5. KNOW Your Goals • • • • Set goals Write them down Stare them in the face Make a roadmap – The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson – The General Managers by John Kotter
    • 6. SHARE Your Goals • Post your goals, and express them openly • Surprising generosity and common threads • Finding the easy way
    • 7. FIRST STEPS: Aim to Help Others • Reciprocity is alive and well • People love to talk about themselves • Unique connections are valuable • You are valuable to others* *Even to those higher up on the ladder than yourself
    • 8. Associate with THE RIGHT CROWD, or Better Yet, Create Your Own • Average of five closest friend (The Slight Edge) • Following in your father’s footsteps? (The General Managers) • Connect people from different circles
    • 9. AT CONFERENCES, Career Fairs and Professional Meetings • Move away from “I need a job” and towards “I can help you with…” • DO THE RESEARCH on people you want to meet • Hold that business card – Make a plan to reconnect
    • 10. STRENGTHEN the Connection • Meet in person – Dinner parties, Exercise, Tickets • Follow up – Thank you cards • Don’t just say hi, add value – Articles, websites, books • Multiple methods of communication – Post cards, phone calls
    • 11. Relationships are more like muscles – the more you work them, the stronger they become… it’s the exercising of equity that builds equity. - Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone
    • 12. GO AHEAD, Ask Them • Funding for causes, opportunities or advice • Connect the dots • Accept help, flex those muscles!
    • 13. Recap • • • • Why Know Share First Steps • • • • The Right Crowd At Conferences Strengthen Go Ahead
    • 14. References • Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi • The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson • The General Managers by John P. Kotter Email Laura at