Oh, by the way, give me some referrals even though I’ve done nothing to deserve them

23 07 2010

Okay, so that was not exactly what the sticker said on the outside of the handwritten note (not a thank you, btw) we received from what I’ll just call a “grey collar” worker we have in our lives right now, but it might as well have.

What it actually said was, “Oh, by the way, I’m never too busy for your referrals.” And, yes, it was on a black and gold very old-school-looking sticker almost exactly like the one below and it was stuck on the back of the envelope.Lame handout sticker

My first question is simply where does one get the chutzpah?! The reality is this person has done absolutely nothing yet to prove that he’s good at his profession, let alone deserving of some of our social capital in the form of a referral to a close friend or valued business contact. Have you ever been on the receiving end of such a thing? But wait, it gets better. At the bottom of this person’s emails you can also find the phrase, “Business is good, but I’m never too busy to serve a referral from you.” Everyone that receives an email from this guy sees that? Where are they teaching this stuff?! I’m afraid to think about how many other people in his industry see that and then cut and paste that sentence to add it to their own email signature. Shame on all of them.

Plenty has been written about classier and more effective ways to ask for a referral (here’s a good post), so I’m not going to go into too much detail here, but I did want to offer one of the best ways I’ve found to ask for a referral:

AFTER I’ve delivered or completed a job well done or did a temperature check with a client to which they responded positively, I ask if they personally know of anyone else that might benefit from what I’m doing or have done for them.

You can also ask if, by any chance, they have recently mentioned you or your company to anyone in a positive way (this tactic is noted in this intelligent post). I’ve found that people often do this, but don’t always have the time or even remember to provide an introduction or contact info to the party in need. And there are also cases where they don’t tell you when they’ve paid it forward on your behalf (kind of the point of paying it forward). Whatever the case, sometimes they respond with a, “As a matter of fact, I was just telling Barb over at TON Productions what a great job you are doing for us when I sat next to her at the Ad Club lunch last week. She asked me if I knew any biz dev pros well worth their fee.”

Then, if you know the contact, or even you if you don’t, ask your client if he’d mind if you followed up with Barb and mentioned that he shared that he gave you a glowing review. I’ve never received an objection to that request, and, btw,  if I’ve landed business because of a client’s good word of mouth on my behalf, there’s usually a handwritten thank you note along with a nice gift card sent priority mail to them stat.

Bottom line: I believe it is never appropriate to ask a client for referrals until you’ve proven your value to them, and you’ve confirmed that they’re happy. If you’ve had any examples of this not being the case, please share them with us because if someone is advocating this as a tactic, I want some real proof that it is effective. Although, I guess it is possible that this guy has just gone rogue, but I doubt it because it wasn’t too hard to find that lame sticker online. Sigh.

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It’s not you, it’s them

10 11 2009

I just received confirmation that my first “real” book is NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON, so I felt it appropriate to commemorate the occasion with a blog post that explains why I wrote the book in the first place.

The first copy of "I'm at a Networking Event--Now What???" by Sandy Jones-Kaminski of Bella Domain, LLC

The 1st copy of "I'm at a Networking Event--Now What???"

Also, since I’ve started having to explain what my new book is about to total strangers (airplane seatmates, wedding table mates, and so far 1 press person – OMG!) I’ve become acutely aware of exactly what it is about the book that initially appeals to the folks that don’t know me or what I refer to as my “How do you not know this?” corner of the world. So, I thought I’d share a few of the questions I’ve been asked and how I answered them.

Stranger:  So, what’s your book about?

Me:  Well, the title is, “I’m at a Networking Event—Now What???” (I usually then pause and wait for the giggling to subside). It’s a practical guide to getting the most out of any networking event, and if you read it you’ll feel like you spent some time with a fairly entertaining, tell-it-like-it-is networking coach.

Stranger: What made you want to write a book about networking?

Me:  There were 2 things:

1)   I was tired of all the bad behavior I was encountering at the majority of the networking events I’d been attending and I also wanted to help the folks in the 80% group of the Pareto Principle out there that just don’t seem to be fans of the activity. I’ve found that besides some of them being shy, most usually aren’t fans as a result of having been on the receiving end of some of the aforementioned bad behavior such as watching someone scan the nametags of others while they’re supposedly listening to you, and

2)   Then, there’s the fairly well-documented phenomenon in the Seattle area called the “Seattle Freeze” (you can Google this) which relates to the arms-length-only friendliness of the Puget Sound area in general, and the lack of genuine welcome many new settlers to the area often experience.

Both factors motivated me to start hosting what I started calling Pay It Forward (PIF) Parties, and then I wrote a few white papers earlier this year on my “12 Rules of Networking.”

The response to the above generated lots of interest (1200+ downloads of my white paper), as well as the encouragement to write a book, and that gets us back to where I started.  As I was working on the book, I was always on the lookout for supporting evidence for my own theories and beliefs about networking best practices, and while I liked to think of them as rules (as in etiquette), I kept finding proof that they’re also the most effective.

For instance, one of the studies I site in the book comes from the folks at Upwardly Mobile Inc. and the Graziadio School of Business Management at Pepperdine University. They conducted a study on the habits of what they call, “elite networkers” and their behaviors as they relate to networking in general.

Finding worth sharing #1: 70% of executives credit networking as THE activity that leads to career opportunities, and 75% of study respondents said they spend fewer than two hours each week directly managing their networks. Bottom line: If done right, you can spend a manageable amount of time on it.

Have you actually developed reciprocal and quality relationships with your contacts? Can you count on them when you need a favor? Do they know that you’re there for them when they need the favor? These are the key questions most elite networkers can answer positively.

Finding worth sharing #2: Not surprisingly, the study notes that most people approach networking fairly ineffectively. They focus on quantity of contacts instead of the most important factor—the depth of the relationship (or my interpretation – trust between the 2 parties a.k.a. good social capital[1]).

I’ve noticed loads written about whether people will recommend you or not as the ideal measure, and while that matters if your only goal for networking is getting more leads (whether they be job or biz/sales related), I believe that good social capital should be the real goal. I strive to cultivate quality relationships that often turn into friendships where a natural by-product is that I know when/if I need some help or a favor I can unhesitatingly reach out and ask for what it is I need, actually receive it directly or indirectly, and then work to make certain that others know they can count on the same from me.

But back to the idea that “It’s not you, it’s them.” I also wrote my book because I wanted to encourage reluctant networkers to recognize that it’s not their fault that the person scanning the other nametags is doing so. You’re not boring — they’re just RUDE! And, I believe that we can help rehabilitate these people at the networking events we attend by “flipping the script,” and instead of being passive and waiting for someone to ask what brought you to the event, so that you can launch into what probably feels like a canned elevator pitch you may have even paid some coach to develop for you, you can act as if you’re walking into a gathering of your closest friends, and simply beat the other person to the punch and ask them what they’re working on these days and whether they need help with anything in their life right now. The idea is that by setting the example of showing genuine interest, and potential assistance, the recipient will hopefully follow your lead and respond in kind so you can actually have a meaningful conversation. And, if they don’t, you’ve just learned that you should save yourself a whole bunch of time, follow-up and trouble, and politely move on.

pif_logo1Based on my own experience, many of the Google alerts I’ve been reading, and the popularity of the PIF Parties I’ve hosted or attended, offering help to others first appears to be an approach that’s really starting to catch on. Hopefully, my book will provide the encouragement to get folks confidently back out there, and maybe I’ll get to meet them at an event soon because, quite frankly, I’m a little tired of running into most of the same usual suspects (a.k.a the 20%) at the networking events I attend. 😉 I welcome the opportunity to meet some new people in the New Year!

[1] Social capital is defined as the resources such as information, ideas or support that individuals are able to procure by virtue of their relationships with other people. The uniqueness of social capital is that it is relational…it only exists when it is SHARED.


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Social Media is indeed an ant’s eye view

3 06 2009

Ants Eye on Gehry

Originally uploaded by ariehsinger

I recently had coffee w/Sean O’Driscoll from Ant’s Eye View, and was not only impressed with the work they are doing, as well as his work with the WOMMA, but I was also inspired by the amazing photography he shares to illustrate the Ant’s Eye View brand.

And, as part of Bella Domain Design, my hubby Keith and I are starting our own ant’s eye gallery. While loading something into Flickr today, I found this fantastic shot taken in our home town of Chicago. Below you’ll find one of ours:
Tiptoe Through the Tulips

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Speaking of white papers

13 04 2009

Just read an Online Media Daily Q&A with Steve Patrizi, the head of ad sales for LinkedIn. Some background here…I met Steve after his keynote presentation at the BMA event I attended in Chicago last November and was so impressed I invited him to come to Seattle to speak at the upcoming MarketSmart conference here on May 15, 2009.  It turned out Steve was booked, but we’re very lucky to have Torrey Lincoln presenting in his stead.LinkedIn Lapel Pin anyone?

Now, back to the Q&A…it appears Steve and his super smart cohorts are working on something I’d definitely recommend watching for since conducting my own networking white paper experiments in March & April.

For the curious, so far, I have had over 400 downloads, an offer to include the entire HR version in an upcoming book titled “The Unwritten HR Rules” (by the former VP of HR of PepsiCo), AND the single highest visit day (today!) at 504 views and counting! (UPDATE: the final count for 04/13/09 – 605!)

You can read the entire interview here, but what I was especially geeked to read was this:

One new area that we have just started exploring is white paper distribution. A lot of companies have been doing that for a long time, and it’s a good lead-generation vehicle. The first phase of this is simply using our ad server to run ads targeting certain members to say ‘here’s a white paper you might be interested in.’ The next wave will allow for more searchable database activity and virally distributing white papers.

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Having trouble with Space Invaders?

7 04 2009

A timely and worthwhile discussion is taking place around this essay by 2 folks in the “high tech practice” at McKinsey (Soumitra Dutta and Matthew Fraser) regarding the subject of current behaviors around social networking.  If you feel as if your space is being invaded via some of today’s on-line tools like Facebook and LinkedIn, then you should read the “Conversation Starter” via a free registration on the McKinsey site. I definitely recommend it, but also want to share that some of the comments from the international readership are clearly just as discussion worthy.

I’m loving how much I’m seeing the “R” word (as in reciprocate) in this conversation, and this comment by Deborah Frangquist from San Fran in particular, “The basic rules of networking apply just as much online as in person: give more than you ask for, give before you ask, cultivate win-win relationships.”  Sounds a little like my recent white paper, doesn’t it? 🙂

NOTE:  You can request a copy of our new April white paper titled, “12 Rules of Networking for 2009” via THIS LINK and please feel free to share it. This version is for everyone, not just the HR pros.  That one is still available, just contact us for details.

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Networking for HR Professionals…the White Paper

17 03 2009

Many of you know me to be a networking enthusiast and “Connector” (Tipping Point/Gladwell reference), as well an experienced marketer and business development pro.  Well, recently I was asked to author a white paper where I offer 12 Rules of Networking for HR industry professionals.  As Bella Domain’s principal consultant, the originator of the Social Capital Assessment, and the current VP of Networking for one of the largest chapters of the American Marketing Association, it actually made sense to me that I was tapped for this worthwhile task.  Besides, me resist a soapbox? No way. Additionally, as some of you may also know, I am a HR industry vet with experience as an executive level outsourced HR services provider as well as an executive manager of in-house HR.

For some, it’ll be a refresher, but for all, this white paper will offer some valuable insights on what to do, and just as importantly, what not to do as you’re out there working hard to build good social capital while growing and nurturing your valuable network. You’ll also learn why you might want to become a “pay it forward” focused person, in addition to how to be more memorable while putting forth all that effort.

Please check out our Networking page or click HERE TO REQUEST THE FREE PDF of this informative 6-page white paper and don’t hesitate to contact me if I can help you, your company or association with either your on-line (i.e. LinkedIn) or off-line networking.

Final note:  Be sure to watch for the webinar and videos on this topic coming to a desktop, on LinkedIn or via an iPhone near you soon!

Timely ways to use LinkedIn

4 02 2009

Loads of muckety-mucks from the tech and social media worlds spent some time at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland recently and here are the 4 things that caught my eye in Mike Arrington’s (Tech Crunch) brief chat with Reid Hoffman the CEO of LinkedIn:

MA: In December you took the CEO role back from Dan Nye. Your reasons for that are well published, but now that you are CEO again, what are you short term goals for the company?

RH: We have a number of tools but most people don’t know how to use them. Lots of ways of finding the right information. (READERS: FEEL FREE TO CONTACT BELLA DOMAIN FOR HELP W/THIS.) Focusing on product marketing or merchandising them.

MA: How can people use LinkedIn in a tough economy to get a job?

RH: Be present, fill out your profile, which will help people find you. It’s essentially SEO. Second, be active in using it. First, searching, if you are looking for contracting gigs, reach out to companies you want to work with, tell them you are available. Second, use the answers service. Ask questions that generate discussions. Or answer to demonstrate expertise.

MA: How many users come to the site? Registered users?

RH: Over 34 million registered, 9 million in Europe, growing by over 1 million every 17 days. Twelve million people visit every month.

MA: How is the economy affecting your business?

RH: Everyone knew we’d get an uptick from job seekers, free agents, consultants. A pleasant surprise is the recruiting space, all of our customers are keeping or increasing their spend. Recruiting business is growing. We have three principle lines of revenue, advertising, subscriptions from users, recruiting tools.