Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Interpersonal Networking - Holiday Style

This just in from the Name Tag Guy, creative thinker, and savvy networker, Scott Ginsberg -- 13 Ways to Network without Being a Nuisance. Here are a half-dozen of my favorites:
  • Identify why you’re there. Is this an opportunity for you to meet people, or is it an opportunity for them to meet YOU? This simple attitudinal change will alter your business forever.
  • Be The Observed, not The Observer. Lead the conversation. Invite new people to join your table or conversation. [C]onsider being a volunteer.
  • Remove the threat of rejection. If you’re afraid of starting conversations with strangers for fear of looking stupid or being rejected, approach people who HAVE to be nice to you. Leaders, volunteers, hosts, bartenders … these encounters are perfect opportunities to achieve small victories that will build your networking confidence.
  • Lead with your person; follow with your profession. Values before vocation. Personality before position. Realness before roles. Then, when the time is right, find a way to gently introduce how you deliver value. Don’t force it.
  • Stop asking people, “So, what do YOU do?” [N]ot everyone has a job. Nor are all people defined by their work. Instead, ask questions that enable the person to take the conversation in whatever direction makes them feel comfortable, i.e., “What keeps you busy all week?” “What’s been the best part about your week so far?”
  • Friendliness is underrated. I know it sounds dumb, but just be friendly. Friendliness is so rare; it’s become remarkable. Use it. Do it. BE it.

And a few additional ideas of my own:

  • Get yourself ready. If you need to rest a bit beforehand, then do so. If you need to do something physical, do that. Do what you need so that you can show up 100% as the True and Authentic YOU.
  • Set a goal. Decide, in advance, how many new people you want to meet. Don't overwhelm yourself, but do stretch. And know that without setting a number, you're likely to meet far fewer people than you would otherwise.
  • Let your conversations swerve. Don't just stick to the facts, tell stories, share tidbits, ask some light-hearted questions, digress, welcome more detail. Superfluousness is often a handle that others can grab ahold of to engage more vibrantly in their conversations with YOU.
  • Go to the gratitude place. Okay, maybe this is a bit heavy for most networking events, but it is the Holiday Season so you most certainly can get away with asking people what they're most grateful for this year. And don't be surprised if much of what you hear is wonderful and heartwarming.
  • Identify a reason to follow-up. Build on what you've learned and continue your conversations afterwards. Did you talk with someone about great vacations? Share your itinerary from that trip to Banff and Jasper you took last year. Did you find a music buff? Let them know that Phish is getting back together. (Yes, it's true!) Did you talk sushi? Ask for the name of that great restaurant you talked about. Have a lead to share? By all means, share it.
  • Leave on a high note. Allow for the serendipity that the person you'll connect most with is someone you meet on the way out. And if not, no matter. You'll still have left the event with a spring in your step and a smile on your face. The memory of that alone will surely help you get yourself ready the next time.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Three Leadership Styles

Three Leadership Styles

Let me suggest that while there are three main leadership styles: Control, Optimization, and Possibility, only the latter, Possibility, enables the true upside of effective leadership.

Leadership by Control Leadership by Control is the classic top-down model. The idea -- as represented by a boss' Circle of Impact with arrows pointing inward -- is that only a small part of what a boss is responsible for can really be controlled. But, results in that smaller area tends to be excellent. Rarely game-changing in nature, though.

Leadership by OptimizationLeadership by Optimization is the process of working to the edges -- to insure that as much is "done right" as possible -- but no farther. Eliminating waste, streamlining processes, etc. most certainly have their value, but Leadership by Optimization is more of a managerial style than a leadership approach.

Leadership by Possibility Leadership by Possibility is about expanding one's Circle of Impact beyond its current limits. It's about empowering your staff, engaging your peers, and challenging stakeholders to think bigger, act more decisively, and achieve more. While sometimes messy, it's the leadership style with the greatest upside.

So, as a percentage of time, how much of the time would you say you spend in Control mode? Optimization mode? Possibility mode? What would help you spend even more time as a leader of Possibility?

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Networking: Another Good Reason For It

I've got an idea!
We've talked about the importance - and value - of networking ... for your own benefit (and those you network with), but here's another reason:

When the boss asks for your thoughts on something, it helps to have something new and useful to say!

This is but one of the implications gleaned from a summary of "Emergent Processes in Group Behavior," an article in Current Directions in Psychological Science, by Robert L. Goldstone, Michael E. Robers, and Todd M. Gureckis.

Think it through: If people on your team, or in your immediate work group, tend to interact primarily with each other, everyone is going to start to know the same things about the same things. And while this is helpful to a certain extent, it doesn't do much to expand the conversation beyond the obvious.

When issues are relatively isolated and/or straight-forward, this is typically not a problem. But, as task-complexity and solution-ambiguity increase - and more nuanced responses are required -, the similarity of everyone's viewpoint will likely severely limit what creativity and ingenuity is put into play.

"There is a hazard in connectivity. If everyone ends up knowing exactly the same thing, you have a world of like-minded people, and this homogeneous group ends up acting like a single explorer rather than a federation of ideas."
Better to "federate" your contributions with new and varied ideas from outside the fold. Better to purposefully stoke your imagination and inventiveness. How?!

Through the new and different conversations you're likely to have through networking, of course!
So what's something interesting and applicable that you've learned through your networking conversations?

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Productivity, Leadership, and Motivation

fork in the road
Question: Do you have any tips on being more productive during the day?

  • "Learn to say no. A computer runs at its slowest when it has too many operations open at once. The same applies to our own production." - Greg Reid

  • "Divorce yourself of the idea that long hours and accomplishments are connected." - Vic Johnson

Question: Any advice on how I can be a better leader?

  • "Be a person who can be counted on." - Cynthia Kersey

Question: How can I keep myself constantly motivated and on track?

  • "The biggest problems people have in achieving goals is that they often try to make too many drastic changes all at once. Research indicates that when people are asked to make big, sweeping changes in their lives all at once, they get overwhelmed, become discouraged and commonly give up. The most effective way to create lasting change is to focus on one area at a time. Even the busiest person can find the time to take a single step." - CK
Source: Success Magazine's 1on1: Getting the Most of Your Time (August/September 2008)

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Platitudes & Attitudes

T. Boone Pickens
Some observations from Texas billionaire, T. Boone Pickens ...


"Sometimes the window of opportunity is open only briefly... be willing to make decisions. That's the most important quality in a good leader. Don't fall victim to what I call the ready-aim-aim-aim-aim-aim syndrome. You must be willing to fire."


"Information is everything. You can never have enough, and as you get older you find that keeping current keeps you in the game."


"It's all right to get your fingers crushed in the door, but don't let the same door crush them twice."


"Far too many executives have become more concerned with the four P's -- Pay, Perks, Power, and Prestige -- rather than making profits for shareholders."


"What I am always looking for is people who can do a job better than I can."


"Work eight hours and sleep eight hours, and make sure they are not the same eight hours."


"Give young people a chance."


"A fool with a plan can outsmart a genius with no plan."
Source: Success Magazine (November 2008)

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

When to NOT use Email

From BNET's At The Whiteboard: "Only 7 percent of what we say is conveyed through words -- tone and visual cues make up the other 93 percent. This is why emails are so often misunderstood. Ed Muzio of Group Harmonics suggests using email only when you should: to convey facts and data, and when no emotion or sensitive issues are involved."

Source: http://www.bnet.com/2422-13731_23-241106.html

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dogs, Music, and Improving Communications

singing dog "Anyone with normal hearing can distinguish between the musical tones of a scale: do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do. We take this ability for granted, but among most mammals the feat is unparallelled."

So reports Sandy Fritz in the October 2008 issue of Scientific American Mind, to the dismay of barking Labradors, woofing bassets, and yelping Yorkies, everywhere.

Yet a recently-concluded study by researchers at UCLA, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Weizmann Institute of Science, concluded that "humans can easily detect frequencies as fine as one twelfth of an octave -- a half step in musical terminology. Dogs can only discriminate resolutions of one third of an octave."

What's the inference from a leadership development standpoint? Well, the flippant answer might be that the people who say they don't understand you ... are dogs! But a more respectful analysis might conclude that your message is, at times, a bit too subtle (or convoluted?) for them to make sense of.

Granted, this conclusion has less to do with hearing than understanding, but if you stay with me a longer, I think it will be worth your while.

Subtlety is often considered a more "refined" form of communication. The problem with subtle communications, though, is that they ask the listener -- they require the listener -- to be much more discerning when listening. And depending on circumstances, that could be asking a LOT from someone. Too much, perhaps.

Indeed, expecting someone to give you their full and Undivided Attention could be far more than they're ready for, or capable of, in this busy, distracted, juggling priorities, go-go, world of ours.

So what if we purposefully avoided such splitting of dog hairs when we're sharing our content with others? What if we focused, instead, on talking more clearly and crisply (and in larger octave steps, perhaps?) so that everyone -- even those with lesser abilities to listen so carefully -- could completely understand what we're talking about anyway?

What would that sound like, I wonder?

Hopefully, this isn't too subtle a point to be making. Hopefully, it will encourage (and help) you to communicate more effectively than you might otherwise.

And, hopefully, that will be music to your listeners' ears.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Zig Ziglar's Success Habits

  1. Be a constant learner. Seek out information that you can learn and teach to others.
  2. Encourage others and help them get what they want.
  3. Express gratitude. "Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions," Ziglar says. "The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for."
  4. Recognize the value of relationships and their role in creating balanced success.
  5. Be consistent in your words and actions. "When you make a promise, keep it."

Source: Success Magazine's Lessons from the Top (October 2008)

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