Yesterday, Jodie Sutherland, Director of Event Development for the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce, asked me to speak at their breakfast networking meeting. One member, Marilyn, works for a staffing agency, and her job is to contact her prospects mainly by phone. She asked for some suggestions because the HR folks she needs to contact, are not interested. My comment to Marilyn was that the best way to get people to listen, is to get them to talk about what is important to them. Her comment was that what she was telling them is important. I stopped her and explained, "that's just it, if you are talking, they are not!"
Isn't that the way it is in networking. In fact, sometimes networking gets a bad name because people feel they have to control the conversation with snappy, creative remarks. Creativity works in advertising, and it can work in networking, too, if the creativity is all about how you are going to phrase the next question to keep the person talking.
Back to Marilyn's problem of trying to get the interest of the HR person. I asked Marilyn if she was allowed to attend meetings and events as part of her job. I figured I knew the answer to that question because she attended the event yesterday! I suggested that she get involved with an HR association so that she could find out what challenges the HR world is facing. She could also be an active member of the group so she can become a friend, instead of an annoying sales person on the other end of the phone line. Her initial comment was, "but that will take time out of my workday," then almost immediately she laughed and added, "but for all I'm realizing from making cold calls 8 hours a day, it probably would be a much better use of some of that time."
What are you doing to spin your wheels at work? What could you do to gain some traction?