Diamonds to You
Today is March 31st and I can’t believe all that has happened during the month of March. Some of my activities are worth sharing with you and I’ve listed a few of them below. These are in addition to my own consulting work and helping individuals with their professional growth.
The following articles about networking and professional image come from some of what I’ve seen lately. The article “Speak Out” is just a tiny attempt on my part to share one of my most important personal values with you.
Getting to Know You – Networking Tips
I continue to be involved in CSIX and in the Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce (as well as other organizations). I mention these two because the primary focus in both is “networking” – or people contacting each other for the purpose of future business.
The problem for me is watching people exchange business cards, give their 30 second elevator pitch (I’ve never mastered my own) and expect that they will get your business or business referrals. I guess that works if you are selling a dollar a dozen pens. It certainly doesn’t work if you are trying to sell expensive products or long term services. Slick sales techniques or “Slam Bam Thank You Ma’am” truly are the least effective way in which you can get to know people and have them get to know you. It’s like 20 second dating.
People who are successful at networking and/or at sales recognize the importance of long term relationship development – or as a recent speaker at CSIX termed it “connecting” not “networking”. For me, it has always meant being an active volunteer in community – charity organizations. It is my getting to know people over time that leads to my wanting to refer them to others – as well, of course, as their getting to know me leads to their referring me to their colleagues.
Helping others always helps as well. Think about how you feel about those people who at one time or another have gone out of their way to be of service to you – without asking for a quid pro quo. Be generous. Be generous with your time and with your knowledge. Although it might not come back to you immediately, eventually people will remember you and what you’ve done for them.
Give – rather than demand – gets you so much more in the long run. (Even though, I hasten to add – sometimes you give only to get your arm chopped off by those who are purely “takers” as happened to me recently – see below..)
Think too of networking – or connecting – as the social activities that you do for the pleasure of meeting people and getting to know them. In other words, create relationships, not bargaining chips.
Some time ago, I wrote an article called “Volunteering Adds Value.” If anyone wants a copy of it, please contact me and I’ll forward it. The article makes the point that there are many positive and rewarding aspects to volunteering your time in the service of activities, concepts or organizations that meet your values.
Networking experts emphasize the importance of planning what you are going to do and creating your goals for each event you attend. Have a goal for each event, and don’t make that goal merely a numbers game. Collecting 20 business cards won’t do much more than junk up your card file. Instead think about spending a few minutes getting to really know ten or more people.
And, yes, do collect the cards – and follow up in some way afterwards. Obviously, this newsletter of mine is one of the ways I follow up and help my business contacts remember me.
So, my tips for the day:
- Think about long-term relationship building – not a quick pitch
- Go places frequently and get to know people.
- Ask them how you can help them – get to thinking about others instead of only thinking of yourself.
- Stop trying to sell yourself with your elevator pitch – instead let the “you” that you truly are come through and your intelligence, warmth, and likeability will bring you better results than the perfect sales pitch.
- Volunteer – volunteer – volunteer
- Follow up – and keep in touch.
- Remember “Out of sight – out of mind”
- Oh, yes, watch your image! You never know who you will meet. Dress professionally at all times.
Ideas Matter – Please Speak Out
Ayn Rand, in “The Inexplicable Personal Alchemy” said:
There is a fundamental conviction which some people never acquire – some hold only in their youth – and a few hold to the end of their days – the conviction that ideas matter.
In one’s youth that conviction is experienced as a self-evident absolute, and one is unable fully to believe that there are people who do not share it. That ideas matter means that knowledge matters, that one’s mind matters. And the radiance of that certainty, in the process of growing up, is the best aspect of youth. …
… and justice matters … And, if justice matters, then one fights for it: one speaks out – in the unnamed certainty that someone, somewhere will understand.
So, please speak out – speak out to correct political-correctness at the expense of true courtesy and respect. Speak out at the alarmists who cry like Chicken Little that the sky is falling down. Speak out at those who take power into their own hands that should rightfully belong to their shareholders. Speak out against prejudice, tyranny, and the lies – or ignorance of others.
Professional Image – or Depressed Loser?
I also find myself wondering about the way people look and dress when they attend some of these networking functions. While most are clean, neatly groomed and professionally dressed, there are always those who stand out because of the inappropriateness of the way they look. When I ask some of these people (particularly at CSIX Networking meetings) why they are so casually dressed, they respond that they didn’t think this was an important meeting. Huh? Aren’t they coming for the express purpose of meeting contacts?
I’ve seen some women dress as though they were going to the Renaissance Faire or a disco. These are the same women who whine that they want to be taken seriously.
Yes, it’s certainly true that we are now dressing far more casually than we did in the past. It is no longer necessary to wear the three piece suit or for women to be imitation men in the “Dress for Success” grey suit – but that doesn’t mean unwashed and wrinkled jeans and tee shirts.
So, I wonder – if you were type-casting for a movie. Would you select Woody Allen or Michael Douglas as the male CEO? Cher or Jodie Foster as a female CEO? I really think everyone should think about role-models for looking great and should find the type that suits them – and learn from them.
Learn by watching TV newscasters as well as actors playing executive roles, how one should dress and what appropriate hairdos and makeup should be for work. Learn what styles look best on whatever physical type you are – it’s never one size fits all. Look yourself in the mirror and see who you are and what you look like – what does your image say? Do you want to change it? How?
If you need professional help – get it. Instead of getting a haircut, go to a stylist and have your hair done in a way that is flattering to you. Any good department store has a professional personal shopper who will help you find styles and colors that fit you. There is so much help you can obtain from others – if you are willing to learn and listen.
United Way of Silicon Valley just went on line with the 211 Community Service Program. By dialing 211 you will get a live operator who will help you find any non-profit community service you require. This is great for finding housing for the homeless or elderly, treatment programs, health services, etc. When I called the other day, I was able to talk with an operator in English or Spanish. Soon they will be on-line with several other languages as well. Call 211 and check it out.
Some Recent Activities
- I was the guest blogger for a week on the www.SVProjectManagement.net blog. I wrote about the importance of people, communication, trust, persuasion, soft-skills and other similar topics. Kimberly Wiefling, the Project Leader for the Blog said: “You did a great job last time and drove up visitors to almost 200 with your frequent high quality blogging.” Of course there are many other interesting bloggers and comments on that blog as well.
- I’ve been invited to be the co-author of the Chapter: The Human Factor: People Are Your Greatest Asset in the revised edition of The First Mile, a book to be released later this year. Gopa Periyadan, my co-author and I have been having great fun integrating our ideas – his as an “insider-executive” and mine as an “outsider-consultant.” We are enjoying the process of working together so much that we are going to write a book together as soon as we complete this project.
- Speaking of books, I am in negotiation with a publishing company to write a policy and procedures manual – using a lot of the materials from my workbook “Roles and Responsibilities of the Workplace” – which comes from several junior college and large retail business workshops.
- My interest in providing Diabetes education and emotional support to India and China is moving forward. I’ve spoken to a few managers at Johnson & Johnson’s LifeScan and they are escalating my ideas up the chain of command.
- STG (Software Technology Group) and I are working together to develop screening instruments for assessing areas such as: social skills, work ethics, leadership qualities, decision-making and problem solving, and loyalty and stability in the workplace. This is an exciting project because it will enable employers to have a way of using on-line tools to assess candidates for employment as well as determining which employees should be placed on a fast-track for training and promotion. In addition, we are talking about creating on-line web-cam soft skill and management training for clients all over the world. If you need soft skill or technical screening for your firm, you might want to check out their website: www.stgglobal.com.
- On the down side though, I just had the most horrible experience with an Acupuncturist who hired me to help her organize a move into much larger space, create policy and procedures, customer service plans, business development, repeat business and referral system, forms, and patient education information, as well as train her staff. She kept changing her mind, her needs, my plans, and ultimately didn’t pay me for all the hours I gave her. How frustrating. Nonetheless, I intend to continue my policy of trusting people – even though there are those who prove themselves untrustworthy.
- The SV Chamber of Commerce was kind enough to feature me and my services in the March issue of their publication, The Chamber Advocate. They quote me as saying, “My biggest challenge is to help people make a shift in what they are doing – they get so caught up in doing the same thing over and over, even though the process is unsuccessful.” “The key is in helping people move forward.”
Workshops and Speeches
My most recent talk with this group I called: Humility Doesn’t Work Nor Does “It’s Not Us, It’s Them.” CSIX, as I’ve mentioned before is this fabulous all volunteer organization which helps those currently out of work. They’ve helped over 4,000 people thus far. I am Chair of their Advisory Board and speak to the group often. in the near future I will be offering their members a workshop called Hands on Help, which will be about Professional Image, Interviewing and Resume Writing
IT Consultants Achieve Great Customer Satisfaction by Listening, Communicating, Persuading and Negotiating. This is the title of a workshop I just offered a group of IT consultants at Samsung. It was customized, as are all my workshops, for their specific needs. Internal Customer Service requires as much understanding and training as does external Customer Service. If you’d like to provide your staff with a similar workshop, please contact me.
- Building Trust in Distant Teams, in Management Issues Feb. 20, 2007.
- Workplace Conflict Resolution: What’s Creating Workplace Conflict and 9 Easy Ways to Resolve It appeared in Impact Articles: The Business and Coaching Network on January 26, 2007 With my permission, this article will also appear in a series of newsletters created and marketed by Haley Marketing Group to their staffing industry clients.
- “Improving Customer Service:
How to Improve Customer Service and Get Thousands of New Customers to Flock"
will appear in the online magazine, Customer Service Managers.
My two published books are available at www.ProductivePublications.com.
- Training Your Board of Directors:
A Manual for the CEOs, Board Members, Administrators and Executives of Corporations, Associations, Non-Profit and Religious Organizations
- The “Please” and “Thank You” of Fundraising for Non-Profits:
Fifteen Essential Ingredients for Success
So, how can I help you?
The following quote comes from the Chair of a Citizen’s Task Force who was involved with a long series of system streamlining and problem-solving workshops I conducted for a city trying to increase it’s customer service to the members of its community, the local businesses and the members of other departments in the city.
Your professional, adroit and humorous handling of the many meetings gave everyone a comfortable and open approach to problem solving. That has accomplished more than I eve thought possible. I appreciate your ability not only to lead people, but to redirect their energies to look at problems differently. More importantly to change attitudes, the hardest of all to reshape.
Let me be your Aufin—your advisor to Kings.
ArLyne Diamond, Ph.D