A Month of Networking

Special torture. Writer Rachel Gillett did it so you don’t have to. She documents an entire month and it’s perhaps not the most surprising read in the world but you’ll feel for her and you’ll also definitely take her advice.

During the first week of the challenge, I eased into networking by inviting coworkers to lunch. This low-pressure situation promised to help us practice our conversation skills. I asked my coworker Rose to invite another colleague, David, to join us for lunch—and on the walk to our lunch spot I felt very deeply the true awkwardness of this scenario.

I think we were all aware of the social connotation when someone asks you to lunch. One can’t help but wonder, what’s the motivation here, what’s the angle? So as we sat down to eat, I wanted to dispel any fears of a hidden agenda. Our networking lunch was simply an occasion to get out of the office, get to know each other better. After brushing the initial awkwardness aside, we enjoyed a delicious family-style meal of samosas, saag paneer, chicken tikka masala, lamb korma, and naan. We ate like kings, kvetched like yentas, and it was great.

My Painful (And Sometimes Fun) Month Of Networking – Rachel Gillett, Fast Company (16 March 2015)

Read the full piece.

Become the smartest person in the room

I’m not certain I agree with this because I do agree with the Aaron Sorkin line from Sports Night:

 If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. If you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

But, still, it’d be nice to be one of the smart ones and reportedly there are ways to pull that off which don’t involve hiring a bunch of clowns. According to Gwen Moran in Fast Company:

READ . . . A LOT
It stands to reason that actively seeking out challenging, thought-provoking information will make you smarter. A widely reported 2012 study done by researchers at the University of California, published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, found that students who spent 100 hours or more studying for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) actually had changes in their brains. The findings indicated that such intensive study showed changes in the parts of the brain associated with reasoning and thinking.

How to Become the Smartest Person in the Room: Here are Ways to Both Appear Smarter and Actually Up your IQ – Gwen Moran, Fast Company (11 June 2015)

I like that one. I like that a lot. I’m less keen on the very next piece of advice which is some junk about regular exercise. Sheesh.
Read the full piece.

Better networking for beginners

From Harvard Business Review where they’re probably more into setting up contracts and contacts in hard business than writing, but still:

Meet in person if possible. In a globalized world, geography often intervenes. Last week, I had an initial call with a friend-of-a-friend in Singapore, and we’re not likely to connect in person anytime soon. A phone call is a good start (they’ll at least remember your name and know something about you), but it’s a much weaker form of connection than the alternatives. Video conferences are slightly better; as I describe in my forthcoming book Stand Out, my friend John Corcoran, a Bay Area podcaster, makes sure to conduct his interviews with Skype’s video feature, even though he only uses the audio tracks, because he wants to establish a face-to-face connection. But wherever possible, find out when the person will next be in your city (or vice versa) and make a plan to connect then to cement your new tie.

The Right (and Wrong) Way to Network – Dorie Clark, Harvard Business Review (10 March 2015)

Read the full piece.

Haaaaaave you met Ted?

There is an argument – posited by Cadence Turpin on Storyline and picked up by Lifehacker – that you shouldn’t introduce someone by saying “This is Bert, he’s an investment banker”. You should instead say something like “This is Susan, she snores louder than anyone I’ve ever known.”

Okay, maybe not. But as an example of making a memorable introduction, about valuing someone and about revealing a bit too much, that works. I just have trouble coming up with an example introduction that is neither job-related nor frankly annoying. Yet I get and like the point:

Introducing your friends for who they are rather than focusing on what they do will remind them they are loved before and beyond their titles. It’s an easy way to remind them that you see them for their hearts instead of their accomplishments.

Our resumes are just paper.

I want people to know my friend Carolyn is amazing at her job, but more than that, I want people to know the stuff inside her that makes her a great friend. The stuff that makes you want to stand by her at a party, in hopes that her thoughtful observations and quick wit might rub off on you.

Let’s stop introducing the people we love based solely on what they do, who they cash their checks from, or what’s on their twitter profiles. Let’s instead start reminding them of who they are. Let’s start conversations that don’t begin and end with who has the most interesting job in the room.

A Better Way to Introduce Your Friends at Parties – Cadence Turpin, Storyline (12 August 2014)

Read the full piece and see if you can do better than I. That’s a thought, I could introduce you as the one “who does better than I”. Cool.

Take a moment to look around you

This afternoon I was saying to someone that I realise I rarely stop to look around. As in the Ferris Bueller sense of how life moves pretty fast and if you don’t look, you may miss it. Fine.

Except, I then spent this evening at a poetry event. I went with one friend and by chance knew many, many people there. At one point in between the poets performing, I took the moment to absorb that I was sitting in a group of seven people I like very much. The chance of it, the people involved, it was startlingly special to me and I looked.

Relax, you’re not that busy

Stop thinking of relaxing as a ticket to laziness and build free time into your day. Relaxation relieves stress, lets you enjoy the moment and improves your problem-solving skills. So take naps. Breathe. Meditate. If you’re always rushing, develop a morning routine to set a calmer tone for the rest of the day. Don’t be so busy you’re not enjoying the precious little time you have on this earth.

How to Stop Being Busy – Sasha Graffagna, SuperheroYou (2 June 2014)

Read the full piece for more interesting and sobering, even correctly chastising thoughts.

Don’t just have a production meeting, have a strategy one

Previously… I’ve recommended that you take yourself off with a coffee and an iPad and work through what BBC News would call a production meeting for one.

It still stands. Even working for yourself, taking a set time to work out specific things you need to do is well worth it. But today I spent about four hours on a much richer, deeper and more serious meeting with my wife Angela Gallagher.

She called it a strategy meeting. Everything we do together, all our business plans, every project we have on separately, we got them all out on the table and we worked through each one.

It was exhausting.

And you should see the pile of OmniFocus tasks I’ve got to do now.

But, wow, it was worth it.