Archive for the ‘Networking’ Category

Thank You Subscribers

Problem:

You have people who have subscribed to your blog, but you’ve totally neglected them.

Solution:

Don’t.

Ok, I confess.  This is me.

And this is embarrassing, but I’m going to just come out and say it. Going for total transparency here.

There are a lot of options and features and cool tricks and stuff you can do with a WordPress blog.  And I thought I had perused enough through the features that I knew where to go if I wanted to do something.  Well, either I didn’t look hard enough, or wasn’t curious enough to find out, but I’m sorry to say that I just found my list of subscribers.

‘Sorry’ meaning I’m sorry it took so long, not sorry I found it.  Rather the opposite – ‘elated’ and ‘exuberant’ that I found you.

So thank you very much, subscribers.  I’m sure it was on a whim, but you took action nonetheless, which is more than most people.

Whims are good.

They drive action.

I need more whims.

You Already Have What You Need to Build a Community

Problem:

My company doesn’t have a good internal tool for social networking so I can’t really build an internal community or a following.

Solution:

Actually, you do.

Back in the olden days people used to get to know each other by sending messages with an ingenious invention called electronic mail.  And although it may be clunky and inefficient, some people still use it today.

There’s even an older method that you might have heard stories about, where people actually meet together in person, where they can see each other’s physical bodies.

I would venture to guess that your company still has these ancient options available.

So, whatever way you can get to know another person, you have a way to build a community.  Email allows you to send messages to all of them at once, so they all have a subject to talk about, or you can connect with one person at a time, building your relationship with that person.  And if you can get everyone in the same room, you can have a shared experience to talk about.

New tools are nice. But if you want to build and lead a community that can make things happen, the only thing holding you back is your desire.

Connect the Peeps

Problem:

People work in silos.  They don’t communicate, except by filling out forms and following the process for transferring information.  Everything takes too long to get done because the processes cause information to get stuck at various stages.

Solution:

Start a connecting or networking effort where everyone knows everyone else by their first name.  Processes are established in large corporations so that things are consistent, repeatable, and with a recognized level of quality.  Yes, they are necessary, but because they work so well for large, complicated systems, we think they’ll work for everything.  But at a more local level, they actually cause communication problems and slow the flow of information.

We all know that relationships of trust help information flow easily and freely and fast (see Stephen M. R. Covey’s Speed of Trust), so why not base the processing of information on those?

I think there is a flawed foundational assumption that fuels most of our desire for forms and processes.  And that is the limit of how many people someone can know.

Think about how many people you know.  I’ll bet it’s a lot over the years.  But now, due to the ease of connecting with people on the internet, everyone ‘knows’ a lot more people.  I’m really curious what kind of numbers the really popular bloggers are pushing, like Gary Vaynerchuk, Chris Brogan, or Seth Godin.  Of course there are all kinds of levels of ‘know’, but I’ll bet these guys are pushing in the thousands on a first name basis.

And I’ll bet you could know at least a few hundred or more.

So let’s just do it.  Start organizing lunchtime events where people get together at small tables and meet a few people.  They should also have some kind of task to work on together, like helping someone with a problem, or brainstorming ideas for improvements.  Leave it completely open and unstructured and allow people to connect.

Start having these once a week and people will really get to know each other.  Also make sure that the invitation is extended at a larger level so that people who show up will be from varying organizations.  This causes cross pollination and diverse networking.  Their organizations may or may not be related or coordinate with each other, but you never know when you might need to know someone in ____ organization.

When everyone starts really ‘knowing’ more people and have built relationships of trust, things will start to happen a lot faster and more smoothly.  (And you might not even have to fill out that tedious form.)

10 Ways to Spread Ideas

Problem

There are a lot of exciting new ideas and concepts that you are learning  from books, TED talks, blogs, and a myriad of other sources out there on the internet.  But then you come to work at your corporation and everything seems to be backwards, you feel like you’re in some kind of a bubble, where no one knows what is going on in the outside world.

Solution

Start a book club.  There are actually other people at your corporation who do know about some of the same things you are learning, but you would never know because there is no forum for sharing brave new ideas.  So start one.

Book clubs are an easy, non-threatening way to explore new concepts.  Plus, they hardly take any preparation time.  Schedule a few meetings a couple weeks apart, divide the book into sections, read those sections before each meeting and develop a few discussion questions from that section.  You’ll find that once you get people talking about an interesting subject (to them), you can’t stop them.

Nothing is more powerful than ideas.

So your book clubs can be a breeding ground for innovative ideas to sprout and grow, because they can be nourished and fed by good discussion and refinement.

What do you want?  Change?

Then you’ll have to start a movement.

And to start a movement, you’ll need a compelling idea.

And to have a compelling idea, you’ll need lots of ideas.

And to get lots of ideas you’ll need to read a lot of books.

And to read a lot of books, you’ll either need to go to the library, or the bookstore, or sign up for the free newsletter that is changing the book publishing industry: http://www.thedominoproject.com/ [If you do it this week, Seth will drop the price of Poke the Box $1 for each 5,000 sign-ups.]

So get reading and start a book club.

P.S.  Sorry I didn’t list 10 ways to spread ideas.  I gave you one. You’ll have to come up with the rest yourself.

Man a Booth

Problem:

You have knowledge about something that other people should know about.  You want to share this knowledge with others, but don’t really know how to get the word out.

Solution:

When you’re at a conference, or some kind of event, how do people share information on a variety of topics that may be somewhat related to the subject of the conference?  They have booths.  At least that’s what we call them, but they don’t resemble a booth at all, they’re actually just tables with pamphlets and freebies and stuff.

So what does it mean when you’re manning (is that even a word, Peyton?) a booth, or running a booth?  It means you’re the expert.  At least more expert than the people who might come up and ask you about it.  So how do you get chosen to man a booth? 

You choose yourself.

What would happen if you decided to do the following?  Create a booth on some topic you know something about, and host it during lunch in your cafeteria.

I’ll tell you what would happen, you’d be known as the expert on that topic.  You’d meet new people, make connections, and spread an idea.  And when that subject comes up, people will know who to call.

What else do you want?

You could even do a different subject every week.  Then you’d be known as that booth person who knows a lot of stuff.  And you wouldn’t be selling anything, just educating people.

In reality, everyone knows a lot of stuff, but not everyone is willing to put it on display and teach others about it. 

So go do it.   And see what happens.

Get a (new) Job.

Problem:

You’ve mastered your current position and are pretty much the expert in that particular job function, but you’d like more challenge.  You want to get to the next level but there doesn’t seem to be any sign of promotion or juicy project ahead.

Solution:

Go find another position within the company and start over.

It’s hard for anyone to leave a place of knowledge, expertise, respect, connections, or safety, and start over, but within a large corporation it’s about the safest thing to do.

When you become an expert, and you change positions within the same corporation, you never completely leave your expertise.  People will still call you for advice or information, you are still somewhat available.  And because of your experience in that area, you will always be welcomed back into the group if other positions don’t work out.

Sure, starting over in a new position, with a new manager and a whole new group of people can be completely unnerving because it is full of unknowns – you don’t know what you’re doing, you don’t know who to talk to, you’re the new kid on the block and therefore don’t have the respect that you’re used to.  That’s okay.  It puts you in a perfect position to learn, get away with making mistakes, and inject some new thoughts and ideas into the group because you’re not tainted with all the history and baggage of that department.

Starting over is immensely valuable because in the long run, you are building a broader range of experience and a larger, more diverse network of contacts.  All the things you don’t know now, you’ll learn soon enough, and when you do, you’ll be twice as valuable for the company.  Knowing more parts of the bigger system will definitely help you solve the tough problems and give you more people to call on when you need help.

And usually, you’re not starting completely at zero.  You work for the same company, so you know what’s been happening at a macro level, and you’re probably somewhat aware of what your new group does.  You may have even coordinated with them in the past so you understand the other side of the issues, and that will get you more respect in your new group.

Keep your eye on what’s happening in other areas so you know when they might need some help and how your particular expertise and experience can help them.  Never burn bridges, and stay in touch with past co-workers, you never know what kind of opportunities may arise.

Don’t worry if this new group may not be your ‘dream job’.  Learn to make a difference and put your mark on what ever department you work in.  Over time, as you learn new skills and broaden your experience, you’ll be recognized as someone who can get the job done.  Then, you’ll begin to be wanted, and offered many positions, from which you can choose the best one for you.

Now that’s job security.

It takes some risk to increase your value.

Show Up

Problem:

You don’t know enough people, you’re not connected, you feel like you don’t know what’s going on, and you’re not contributing significantly.

Solution:

Show up. 

By that I mean a couple of things.  First, it means to actually show up at meetings or events where you can connect with other people and learn what’s happening.  Meetings always get a bad rap, everyone hates them and thinks  they’re a complete waste of time.  But I’ll let you in on a little secret: I love meetings.

The reason is because meetings are where you have the opportunity to connect with other people, to exchange ideas, to learn things, and to get involved.  The general disdain for meetings has come from poorly run meetings where you’re not engaged and the purpose is unclear.

So as you show up for meetings, participate and get involved, you’ll be able to have more people connections, and be recognized as someone who’s active and engaged in a lot of things.  Also, the more people you know (and what departments they work in) the more helpful you’ll be to other coworkers in the future who want to know about a particular area.  You can say you know so-and-so and point them in the right direction.

The second meaning of ‘show up’ is about being actively present in all that you do.  It’s about taking initiative and making something happen.  Don’t just be an observer.  Speak your mind, participate.  Your contributions are valuable, don’t hold back.

That’s how you begin to make a name for yourself and become recognized as someone who’s well connected.

Just show up.

What does ‘showing up’ mean to you?