Convention Networking


Social media networking sites like LinkedIn are great resources to expand your network and open yourself to new people, ideas and opportunities.  Still, nothing trumps the person-to-person meeting.  Conventions are great for expanding your network, but some pre-planning work can make your convention more successful.

Before the convention.

Before I attend a convention, I review the show schedule and select the presentations in which I am most interested or in which I want to connect with presenters or like individuals.  Once I schedule my presentations and happy hours (important events!), I review all of the presenters.  I look up each presenter on LinkedIn and elsewhere (Google them!) and review their company affiliation, alma mater, and other activities.  Kind of like mini-stalking.  I make calendared notes to remind me at the correct time what presentation I want to attend and which presenters I would like to meet.  Sometimes I do this months in advance.

Working the convention.

Conventions are to see and be seen.  I love wearing an eye catching color or stand out dress.  Be visible.  Be welcoming.  And by all means, be ACTIVE!  My three convention rules are:

1. Wear your nametag!

Sounds childish, eh?  But wearing your name tag can improve your networking success. Often, people don’t hear or forget (gasp, I know!) your name after introductions.  By wearing your name tag, with your full name and company, you are giving a potential connection another chance to remember your name.  Often, I make brief notes about whom I have met and conversed with at meetings.  Later, I look them up on LinkedIn and send them a personalized invitation.

2.  Work the hallways!

Sure conventions are full of eye opening seminars and presentations, but remember to work the hallways.  I have met more good connections in the hallways during bathroom breaks or otherwise than I have during some of the presentations.

3.  Be open!

Convention schedules include ample open time for networking.  Don’t run away to your room during these breaks.  Use this valuable time!  Learn to work the room.  Trust me, everyone is nervous walking up and making small talk.  Just do it! Ask open ended questions such as, “what do you want to gain from this event?”  If you are in a small group, make sure the group orientation leaves an opening for newcomers to join your group.  Do not overstay your time.   Politely say ‘thank you’ and explain you are going to move along to allow them to meet others.  Then move along.

Following some of these easy tips will bring you more success at those company conventions! Now go connect!

Paying It Forward II


As I stated in Paying It Forward, networking should be a continual activity.  Some people are blessed with large networks while others struggle. But I’m here to tell you that you can turn it around.  I went to a very small college preparatory high school (Go Spartans!) with only 28 graduating seniors.  Then, I moved on to a small, private college (Emory University plug) with a graduating class under a thousand. (Proud to say I have moved up to the University of Florida Gator Nation! Go Gators!)

Moreover, by relocating coast to coast multiple times, it seems like I lost my network over and over. Relocations, divorces, layoffs or job separations; there are many reasons to lose connections and I think I am guilty of all of the above, but it wasn’t until the last five years, yes with the advent of social media, that this failure really hit home. How did I lose track of so many people in my life?  And why? Thankfully, social media has also come to the rescue.  Over the past 5 years, I have used LinkedIn, and other social media platforms, to reconnect and build my network.

If you are networking from scratch, first realize that a grand network won’t happen overnight.  You should accept that building a network is a multiyear project. At first, you may think you are helping others more than you think it is helping you, but when it does help…..ah, the sweet spot. Statistics tossed around state 70% of new job opportunities are found through network connections. You can network in person or on social media platforms (shocking, I know).

Still resisting social media? Sure I have heard some argue (my brother!) that if they are on LinkedIn (or another platform) and networking, their employers will think they are looking for a better opportunity. Well, you should be doing that too! But you should always be networking and paying it forward – IRL (in real life) or on SM (don’t make me spell that out too!).  By now, most firms have their own LinkedIn page and expect employees to have a LinkedIn presence.  As a manager, I encouraged my employees to complete their profile and properly represent the firm.  I suspect your firm would approve as well. After all, it is free advertising!

To add to the plethora of LinkedIn and networking tips and articles out there, I highlight my top seven social media networking strategies below.

  1. Know your settings!
  2. Be a proactive connector not collector!
  3. Mine your connections’ network.
  4. Focus on local connections.
  5. Seek industry & alumni connections.
  6. Group participation.
  7. Post, like and share. Participate.
  1. Know your settings!

I cannot emphasize enough: Know your settings! This is one of the most important rules of social media. If you are busy, or get frustrated drowning in multiple email notifications, turn them off! Know your notification and privacy settings and social media will become manageable and, I dare say, enjoyable.

  1. Be a proactive connector not a collector!

Be a proactive connector rather than a collector.  Everyone has seen the LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) moniker. I have found that most of the LIONs are merely collecting contacts. Bling. Bling. Networks work better if you actually communicate with your contacts.  Get to know your contacts. When sending an invitation or accepting one, send a personalized email thanking your contact and offering help from you or your network. Strike up conversations. Ask open ended questions.  And do NOT spam your new contact! Total faux pas!

  1. Mine your connections’ network.

Mine your connections’ networks. This is the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon of LinkedIn. The Faberge of LinkedIn. When you make a connection, you see their connections, and so on and so on and so on. Review your connections’ network for new potential contacts. Ask your contact to introduce you, or reach out on your own. I enjoy connecting my networks and have done it many times. Pay it forward!

  1. Focus on local connections.

Social media is great for its reach, but sometimes a little local color is preferable.  I seek out local contacts and try to build a closer connection. Try to meet local contacts over coffee or lunch. In-person meetings still trump online communications.

  1. Seek industry & alumni connections.

This might seem like a no-brainer, but I assure you there are plenty of people who fail to reconnect with alumni or other people working in the same industry.  These connections already have something in common with you. This is proverbial low hanging fruit!

  1. Group participation.

LinkedIn Groups are a great way to meet new connections, learn or teach.  As an early adopter of LinkedIn, I used groups extensively to build my network.

  1. Post, like and share. Participate.

Be in the game.  Enough said!

Next time I will discuss my IRL networking strategies.  Until then, pay it forward!

Emotional Intelligence EQ

I’ve known a lot of people with high IQs, but horrible emotional intelligence IQs (EQ) at work, and worse in their personal life.  (Legitimacy claim here – I have a cousin who was a big wig in the International Mensa organization, but no, I’m not in Mensa.)

mindfulIn light of the Steve Jobs biopic and the Time Magazine article on Mindfulness, a related topic, there’s been a lot of talk about this emotional intelligence IQ at work, particularly Jobs apparent lack of emotional intelligence – or low EQ.  I think we try to view Steve Jobs as a manager where we should realize he was a visionary leader. Thus, ‘being kind’ or ‘being mean’ is moot.  Being exacting and demanding is how we should describe his leadership.  Important note here, we are describing Jobs’ leadership – not necessarily his management.

Management, on the other hand, demands a certain degree of emotional intelligence.  In your organization, you want your managers to have some degree of emotional intelligence for employee development, retention and advancement (yes, of said manager and their subordinates).  Managers with higher emotional intelligence can reduce stress and create more communicative environments resulting in obvious benefits to employees and the company bottom line.

Luckily, emotional intelligence can be taught.  Anyone who Googles EQ in Amazon or lovelsewhere will come back with a compendium of new books on the topic.   I will not promote any one book here, but I will summarize that methods to increase your soft emotional quotient usually start with self-reflection.  Self-reflection can be an ugly, scary thing.  But, once you identify some of your skills and/or weaknesses, you can manage yourself, still not an easy task, but the first step in improving your emotional intelligence skills!

Once you start managing yourself, you should (ok – ‘may’, ‘might’, ’hopefully’, fill in a word) become more socially, situationally aware at work.  This is how your office now becomes a target rich environment.  It is in this new array of social awareness, where relationship management improvements can occur.

loWhy don’t you start with a free Emotional Intelligence test online?

Paying It Forward

Devils Tower

Is networking an activity you only do when you are in dire straits?  Or, is networking a potentially embarrassing, dirty word announcing you are starting a new job search?  Whichever view you have, you’re wrong.  There, someone said it.  Again.

Networking is one of the most crucial ways to expand your sphere of influence to attract new people (with), new ideas, and new opportunities into your life.  And, it is just a way to grow.  Sure, networking takes work and is a skill in and of itself. (which you can improve – I will post networking skills in a later post) However, platitudes from so many great influencers including Neal Donald Walsh, whom I will give credit for many reasons I will get back to in later posts eventually, scream, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

Life. Growth.  Sounds like work.  And it is.  Networking is not a ‘one-way street’, ‘you only scratch my back’, ‘all for one and only one’, activity.  Successful networking demands altruism.  Altruism – yup. Big word that means you are a member of the human tribe and must act like a member. Networking, in light of the fact you are human, means that you have a duty to help those with whom you network as well.

In fact, I argue here that you should ALWAYS be networking and ALWAYS be looking for a way to help your tribe.  Networking is not about you. Networking is about paying it forward.  Sure, you will gain as well, but you will gain so much more if you change your thinking.  Now go out there and connect!

Loss Aversion

Balancing stones

Why the negative strikes fear more than the positive and how to overcome it.  As a self-employed real estate and engineering consultant (yes = sales!), I was tallying up my overall debt to asset ratio tonight to determine my net worth (and where it is going- but that is another topic).  My assets by far outpaced my debt (ya me!).  I was actually quite surprised because I have been operating in a state of panic since re-careering into this new realm of full commission!  It got me thinking about the power of the negative and, more importantly, how to turn it around.

It is a commonly known human phenomenon that negative outcomes effect decision making more than positive. Well, perhaps not commonly known, but any University of Florida MBA (my Go Gators! plug) is intimately familiar with Daniel Kahneman’s Noble Prize (Economics) winning Prospect Theory.  Daniel Kahneman, with Amos Tversky, theorized that people’s decision making behavior, particularly applied to economic decisions, was governed more on the potential risk of loss rather than the final outcome. This is basic loss aversion.

Moreover, they described that the loss may actually be a lesser gain than an alternative rather than an outright loss.  This, of course, depends on the reference used in evaluating the options.  Kahneman theorized that people judge the risk based on a frame of reference.  Alternatives less than the frame of reference were a loss even if they were simply a lower gain.

Without going into the statistical probability comparisons and calculations (because we all love statistics and math!), the crucial take away of the Prospect Theory is learning how to best frame, bundle and present options. Taking my net worth example above, for instance, instead of looking at my debt level separate from my assets, I should focus on the net assets (and be glad assets are higher!)

Take my advice – frame it in the positive to better guide the decision.



How are you handling subversion in your firm?  Don’t think you have any? You’re probably in denial. Subversion exists in all organizations. Moreover, subversion is helpful.  In improving processes and management, subversion is a valuable job disrupting the ‘SNAFU’ or operandus modi status.  Subversion can be the chaotic first signal that something is amiss.

Sure subversion sounds like inciting discontent.  And normally this malcontent element would be something an intuitive manager should weed out – and quickly. But in the case of a dysfunctional group, the so-called ‘loose cannon’ may be the prescient voice announcing valid discontent.  How you handle the subversion can result in improvements.  Listen to this voice.

Provide a platform for them to communicate issues and you may be able to either improve your system or make personnel changes better for you and the employee in question.  At the very least, you may be able to isolate a critic removing the infectious attitude.

In the worst case, the negative element is fired or leaves of their volition.  This is not necessarily a victory as it is widely known that employees leave bad managers rather than organizations.  Therefore, the danger in ignoring the subversive view is allowing discontent, dysfunctional and malcontent people and/or processes to fester while building a high turnover.   High turnover is costly and negatively affects your brand reputation.

If you have a high volume of dealing with subversive employees, perhaps you should inspect your people management and processes.  The problem may not lie in the subversive employee but rather in your company processes and culture.