Thursday, November 29, 2007

Holy Cow, Time Flies

I can't believe that it is already Thursday night.

Milestone time! Yesterday I hit the 10,000 visit mark for my blog. Thanks to all who helped me to reach that line in the sand. Now if I don't write, I'll be feeling really guilty!

Today I met with Beth Anne Barrett, a student at Davis College. Beth Anne just completed the Certified Networker accredited course at Davis. She is adamant that all college students should take this course.

But that's not what I really want to write about. Instead I want to talk about Beth and several other young women who are carrying full class loads, working jobs, managing families and still being able to give back to their communities doing volunteer work.

Beth Anne had organized a service sorority at Davis and already there are over 50 sisters participating. Now you've got to realize that Davis has about a little over 500 students. So that's 10% of the student body. And they are committed making money to give to charities each and every month. WOW!

Another student, Jennifer Vaneeckhoutte has the same litany; school, work family and she is a CASA volunteer. I know how rigorous and time-consuming that commitment can be because a friend of mine was a CASA volunteer in Pittsburgh. Jennifer is the advocate for a child in a court situation. She speaks directly to the judge.

I am so proud to know both of these young women and want to acknowledge their contributions.

Please salute these talented young women. Tell us who you admire.

Monday, November 26, 2007

It's Not What You Say, But What You Do

Today I taught a training session for BNI -- for one person. The training was about how to give a 10 minute presentation which is a major benefit of membership in BNI.

Because only five people were registered for this session, the BNI staff personally talked with each of the five last Wednesday (Before Thanksgiving) to confirm that they would be attending. They received confirmations from all five.

The session was supposed to begin at 7:30 AM. I have to get to the training location about 30 minutes ahead of time to make sure I am set to begin on time. The location is 30 minutes from my home, so I drove out my driveway at 6:30 AM. At 7:35 AM the first person arrived. He was the only person to arrive. At first I was just going to cancel the training till next month, but I asked Charlie Rice of The Carpet Spectrum when he was scheduled to give his 10 minute presentation. Of course, it is next week. So Charlie got a private coaching session on the topic.

The other four -- I know who you are. Your credibility is going the wrong way with me. Now, I realize that they could have left a voice mail on the BNI answering machine over the weekend, but they did not. All four were no call, no shows.

How do you think any of those four would act if I decided that I didn't want to show up to train on an early Monday morning when they decided to be there. Somehow, I think they would be the ones to scream the loudest.

Help me to understand why people don't think they have to keep commitments. Do they think they are invisible? Don't they realize that doing what they say they're going to do is a prime building block of a referral relationship?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Comfort Zone Junkies

I have no idea who the Cowboy Junkies music group is because while I like to hear music, it is more background noise for me. I guess music doesn't have a conversation with me!

Anyway, Seth Godin wrote a post about the challenge that popular music groups have. All their fans want to hear the "old" stuff and really don't feel a connection when the group is producing new sounds.

In thinking about this, it is a demonstration of how most of us want to stay within the confines of our own comfort zone. It feels good to hear familiar music, or go to the same restaurant, or take the same route to work. We are creatures of habit because to do something different doesn't feel right or good.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Do You Dump?

Okay, how was Black Friday? For those of you not in the US, that is the dubious name given to the shopping day after Thanksgiving. I think it refers to what the merchants hope they will be "in" at day's end (as opposed to red ink meaning a loss.) I am not a Black Friday shopper -- so I can't tell you anything about it.

What I do want to talk about is the garbage dump.

No, I am not talking about the town dump, where the scraps of dinner might be thrown. No, not that. What I am talking about the the practice of giving a new networking acquaintance every marketing piece you have about your company in one fell swoop.

Now, let's think about why it is not such a good idea.

First of all, from a marketing point of view, if you give it all at once, you have no reason to go back.

Second, with a thick folder of information, you may overwhelm this new acquaintance to not read any of it -- that is, overwhelming them to inaction.

Third, most people don't have time to sit for many minutes just with your stuff. They will quickly pick out what they need and throw the rest away.

Fourth, doing the garbage dump says that you don't care about the needs of this specific person, that "one size fits all." Don't I feel special????

This week at a networking event, a guest brought such a folder. There were 24 sheets of paper and five, glossy, four-color magazines inside this folder. This person happened to be an advertising representative for a local newspaper. Finally, I found the rate sheet and threw the rest away. Then I opened the rate sheet and it was so complicated that I could not figure it out. That, also, was pitched.

So here's the deal. If you want to attract me, make it simple, short, efficient and non-wasteful. Otherwise, you'll be filed in the trash can.

While I don't totally understand the DISC personality measurement technique, my friend Deanna Tucci Schmitt, Executive Director of BNI Western Pennsylvania, would say that my reaction is probably because I am a high D. So I guess there might be people out there who represent other letters in the DISC theory that would read all that stuff. But it's your job to figure out who those people are and are not!

Do you like it when networking acquaintances give you the dump?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Leadership Toledo, Part V

The post is a little late, as my last Leadership Toledo meeting was last Wednesday, but that also was the day that I caught a 5 PM flight to the BNI conference. So you all will pardon me, right?

Wednesday, November 14, was education day.

Our leader, Dave Schlaudecker, had sent us an email that had this quote about the day we were about to have, "We have no control over what you experience at a school." Couple that comment with the fact that we were divided into nine groups, additionally the students from Youth Leadership Toledo were paired with us and that I was assigned to an inner city elementary school made for some negative anticipation inside my head.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

Mapquest got me to the school with only one small hitch. Really it wasn't Mapquest, just the streets are kind of kinked down near the school. No big deal.

Principal Diane McGee met us at the door and ushered us into the library where breakfast snacks and juice awaited us.

Wow, what a school. Toledo Public Schools is going through a large revamping of their buildings, and this school is brand new. It even has been renamed. The old building that was torn down was known as Cherry Street School and now they are proudly known as Rosa Parks School. TPS has lost enrollment numbers in the last couple years to private and charter schools. Diane proudly told us that they ended the school year (in the old building) at less than 200 students and began the year with 289 students. Certainly the new building made a difference, but Diane makes the building come alive. Each grade has three classrooms, so the class size is only about 17 students per classroom.

Her teachers have been there at this school for many years. As we visited classrooms I saw so many dedicated and fun teaching methods that I wanted to stay all day.

Each day begins with announcements at 9 AM. A small group of students helps with the pledge and the EXERCISES. Yep, that's right. They have a healthy living initiative. Each morning the students roll a big dice (what is singular for this word?) that has various types of exercises
listed on each side. We did toe-touching, jumping back and forth over a line and jumping jacks. Diane does the exercises right along with the students. We also participated and I've got to tell you that after a minute of jumping over the line and a minute of jumping jacks, I was winded!

The kids were all very well-behaved. Diane said that really they have few
problems in this area. The biggest challenge is helping the kids to understand the difference between home rules, community rules and school rules. For example, in the community if someone says something even slightly bad about your mother, you have to fight. Obviously, at school that is NOT the course of action.

After our visits, the LTers and YLTers gathered to report back to each other the strengths and weaknesses of each school. Of course, money was an issue for many schools. We again divided into groups to figure out how what challenges are facing our education system as a whole and what we might suggest as solutions.

For me, LT is doing helping me to expand my horizons. I want to stay connected with Rosa Parks School beyond just our morning there. Diane McGee is a wonderful beacon for this neighborhood and I want to be sure I figure out a way to help.

Thanks, Dave, for providing an opening for my positive inner city experience and helping me to reset my attitude.

When has education or enlightenment helped to change your attitude?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Having Fun in San Diego


That was not on my list of goals to achieve when I headed out to the BNI conference.

I think I will have to have it at the top of the list from now on.

Because I had a TON OF FUN at the conference.

Here's why.

I roomed with my good friend Michelle Dononvan from Pittsburgh. We shared ideas and she gave me a wonderful way to market my classes, in-between classes. Thanks Michelle!

We shared a common door (that was always open) with two other directors from Ohio. Sandy Pirwitz and Joani Donovan kept things in an uproar. Sandy wow'd us with a new outfit at least twice a day. Joani taught us new phrases.

We also hung out with new director, Andrew Kistner. He's only 22 and our job was to season him a bit! The funniest comment of the conference came from Andrew when he shared how Joani recruited him to be a director by calling him "at the butt-crack of dawn!"

Laughter. This conference showed me that I want more of it in my life.

How do you get your jollies?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Don't They Understand

I have to talk about one issue that has now happened twice in the last couple weeks.

I have been involved with two events that were giving the proceeds of the event to a charity or two.

At both events the representatives of the charities had agreed to be in attendance for the event.

At the first event the representatives of the charity arrived late and left early. They also did not fulfill a commitment they had made to perform a certain job at the end of the evening.

At the second event the representative spoke and mentioned that they had to move on to something else more important that evening. What?!?!?

Both charities had ample notice of these events and their facts of their involvement.

Today, charities are having a more difficult time finding the money they need to exist. Don't they realize that a conversation they might have at such an event could lead to bigger money. And don't they realize that when I see them leave early, I make a decision to never give them money again?

I realize that they have families to get home to, tasks to complete and generally a need to be off the clock.

Guess what? I do too. But there I was at both events long after they left, still making money for them.

This time.

What's your take on this?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Yep, I'm Proud, Part II

This past week, I was involved with a Leadership Lunch sponsored by the Girl Scouts. It is to this lunch that we on the committee invite women who we consider to be leaders in the community. They take on all shapes, sizes and ages! Of course, they are a diverse group.

This lunch is a launching point for recruiting mentors for Camp CEO, a project where women leaders each mentor one female student in 10th, 11th or 12th grade for just one weekend. There is a financial commitment to participate, too.

Last year was our first year and we had a wonderful weekend with 16 women and 16 girls. We want to replicate or do better this year.

Having a powerful keynote speaker would be crucial to our success.

I convinced Theresa Emrick, one of the members of the committee, to be the main speaker. She has a story that is so perfect for this.

You see, she was a good (A's and B's) student in a small school, when in her senior year she was told by the guidance counselor (who was also the football coach) that her dreams of further education were going to be a waste. He told her that she wasn't smart enough to make the grade. He told her to just marry the football team captain and be done with it.

Theresa obviously didn't follow this professional's advice. She has a Masters degree. She is the Director of Admissions for Nortre Dame Academy, an all girls prep school here in Toledo. She is at this position because she doesn't ever want another young girl to hear such stupid advice.

With this powerful presentation, I have no fear that we will find the 20 women who want to make a difference.

Who in your youth motivated you to reach beyond your comfort zone? And was it done with positive or negative reinforcement?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Wish Me Luck

One of my goals in life is that I want to be paid to present at a national conference.

Well, today I will be halfway there!

Today, I will be giving what is called a Group Round Table at the International BNI Conference in San Diego, California. A Group Round Table is a trial run that is given to a presenter to determine whether the topic or the person is worthy of a larger audience.

These sessions are not recorded as the others are, and since fewer people come, they are more intimate.

But still!

I must admit that I am a little nervous and really I am giving only one third of the presentation.

It's about The Button Jar.

But that's for another time.

I just think it is pretty wonderful that when we put aspirations out to the universe, many times the universe makes room for our wants. And actually I have my friend, Deanna Tucci Schmitt to thank for recommending me.

What would you like to tell the universe?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Yep, I'm Proud

Last Wednesday evening, I attended the Way Public Library Foundation board meeting. The first item on the agenda was for a check to be given to the foundation.

That's right. The financials from the Evening with Masters event had just been finalized the day before and we could begin cutting checks for the three chosen charities.

Sandy Pirwitz, owner of Sandy's Stuff for Women, and chair of the event, came to help with the presentation. The library was surprised with the size of the check -- $1,000. That's Sandy on the right presenting the check to Lisa Richard, administrator of the Foundation. (No, Lisa is not sleeping, we only have one picture to choose from, darn it!)

Yep, I was a proud mama!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sorry, It Is PowerPoint Time Again

Sorry, but I just have to get it out of my system.

At the chamber event that I wrote about here, both breakout sessions I went to had the speakers using PowerPoint.

At the first, the speaker SAT in front of his laptop and when it was time for him to speak he would twist his body around to somewhat face the audience. He stayed seated. On a scale of 1 - 10, the presentation material was a 4, and the presentation style was a 4. The only reason I give it such a "high" score is that there was a second presenter who did stand and face the audience for her part.

At the second, two men who are professionals within the community, gave the most boring presentation I have experienced in the last couple years. The slides were all bullet points of text which they read to us as they faced the screen with their backs to us. One a scale of 1 - 10, this presentation didn't even make it to a 1 in either category.

Need I say more?

Yes, I have to.

Lose PowerPoint. Talk with your audience. If you must use PowerPoint to feel like you are giving a REAL presentation, then use the software to show illustrations and images of what you are saying. It should be a backdrop, not a fence.

There got that off my chest.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Packed Week

Okay, this is Saturday morning and I am glad I made it through the week. Not only was every day packed to the gills, but I had a meeting or event every night.

I have several reasons to write quite a few thank you notes this weekend, which feels like a chore, right now, but I will actually love doing it when I get into it!

Wednesday afternoon, I attended a Toledo Chamber of Commerce function in downtown Toledo. BNI was a Silver Sponsor of the event and as such, received tickets they could give away. John Meyer, Co-executive Director of Team Ohio offered those tickets to all the Assistant BNI Directors and also asked them to invite a member from one of the chapters they oversee.

I invited DJ Deiter, from the Silver Dollar Chapter in Bowling Green, Ohio. Now, I have to tell you that I was not looking forward to spending these four hours in this manner. It had nothing to do with DJ, in fact he was the one reason that it was palatable. He is smart and we know each other pretty well, as he had just stepped off the leadership team of his chapter after a year.

There were several outbreak sessions listed in the brochure and many had the title, "To Be Announced." That was telling me that this was all a crap shoot.

Okay, I'll make this short.

I did meeting some interesting people.

I did connect with people I have met in the past who could be helpful.

I did sit through two rather ordinary (read boring, bad PowerPoint) sessions.

But this is all about me.

DJ actually went to three sessions. He is a financial planner for Modern Woodmen of America. The extra one he went to was about 401(k) planning and he went out of curiosity to find out what was being said. There were only three people in the audience for this session. One of those asked a lot of questions. DJ shared that he had introduced himself to this person and as a result had an appointment with this person to see if he could help sort out all these questions.

That was shared with me as we were walking out.

Duh! I realized that my attitude was all about me. "What was I going to get?????"

Double Duh! My attitude would have been a heck of a lot better if I had gotten out of my own way and just thought about others.

Hit me!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

What a Difference a Day Can Make

This past weekend Steve and I had the pleasure of walking early both mornings of the weekend. One day we took our yellow Lab, Gable, with us and the next day we took the two Springers, Dillon and Owen. (They really should be called Dumb and Dumber.)

What a difference between the two days.

Both days we went to the same park and traveled the same path.

Gable is now 13 years old -- a fine dog. While, as far as I'm concerned, he is still very handsome, he is getting slower. I think the hearing and eyesight are not what they used to be either. During our walk we saw about 20 - 25 deer, some very close. Gable could have cared less. And the deer just stood their ground not running away.

Owen and Dillon are seven years old. But you'd think they were still little puppies. The whole time they were walking they were pulling on the leash. I think my one arm is a couple inches longer than it used to be. Owen always makes noises, too. I liken him to the Little Engine that could. He just keeps chugging and panting along. We only saw about five deer, and those were at a distance. I'm sure that any that were around were scared away by Owen's noises.

So what's this got to do with networking.

Well, as I was being pulled along on Sunday, I thought about how some people are like Owen and Dillon when they go to a networking event. They scare people away. And then there are the calm attendees, like Gable, who people like to be around.

That's all. After all, my brain was on "weekend."

Monday, November 5, 2007

Rules for Success

Does your networking group work for you?

Really, the question should be, "Do you work for your networking group?"

You see, we all join such groups hoping that they will be the magic bullet to more sales. Right?

And then we sit back and wait.

And wait.

And wait.

And then we quit, because, "That type of networking group doesn't work for me."

Here are six thoughts about how to work for your networking group.

1. Set aside 30 minutes each week to create a specific referral request for yourself for next week and to work on fulfilling your members' requests from this week.

2. Schedule the above 30 minutes into your calendar as an appointment with yourself.

3. During the 30 minutes, make at least three calls on behalf of a member or members.

4. When you meet with members outside the regular meeting time, help them to tell you what they need in a more detailed manner than they have time for in the meeting.

5. Pick one request from a member each week to try to fulfill even if you don't think you can. Ask everyone you talk to, if they can help you to make the proper connection.

6. Review the notes you've taken during the meetings. A request from three weeks ago may now be one you can help with because you've met someone since then who can assist with the very request.

Networking groups are not an easy way to more business. They are a focused way to more business. And on the way to helping others be more successful, you'll find success yourself.

How much effort do you put into your networking group?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Useless Information?

The other day I was talking with a friend who is a master at networking. The conversation turned to data bases or really, the ability to use information.

I loved the concept that he presented.

When he gets a "lead," (he is in the construction world) he enters it into his system, even if he knows that his company would never want to do the work.

Why would he clutter his system with unusable information?

Well, he doesn't look at it as useless information. He looks at it as information he can feed to his referral sources.

And here's how he does it.

The information is entered into his system along with the date. When he knows that he is going to meet with one of his referral sources, he prints a list of all the leads he has realized since the last time they met. Simple, but mighty.

Of course, his list includes the prospects that are being actively being worked by his company. It also contains those that are not helpful to him, but may in fact be very interesting his friend. Of course, they have to strategize as to how they will help each other, but at least they have a platform to begin.

I love this technique because it is so simple. A lot of times I meet with people who ask for my time. Sometimes I don't even enter them into my Outlook. Now, I will, knowing that I could help someone else. Of course, I'll have to figure out how to sort my Outlook by date. (That may take a consultation with my son, Greg.)

What networking hint do you have that could be as easy as this?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Masters Evening, Part III

I have written before about how we use a question at our events to get people mixing with each other. There is just one question per event, so that everyone is answering the same question, but of course, the answers are very unique.

At the Masters event, the committee took it one step farther and printed name tags that had space for people names (of course!) and then farther down near the bottom they printed the words,

"I am a master of_________________."

Each attendee had to finish that statement. It made for some great conversation. It gave us a window into each person's personality.

Bravo to the committee taking an old idea and making it even better.

How would you make name tags work to spark conversation?