Posts Tagged ‘special interests’

It’s a small world after all!

November 4, 2012

Six degrees of separation is finished!

Long live two degrees of separation – in today’s global market place. Let me share an amazing story with you. Last week I presented to the team at Mondo Direct, a leading recruitment firm in North Sydney. When I arrived, the CEO, Simone Allan mentioned that she had run into someone I knew last week – Alban – also in recruitment. I mentioned that I had a LinkedIn message from Alban the day before.

Apparently, Simone and Alban were both attending a conference in Shanghai and happened to be in a hotel lift together and started to chat –  as you do….. The topic of networking was mentioned and Alban (who is based in Singapore) said that he had learned a  lot about networking from Robyn Henderson, a woman who presented a few years ago to the recruitment company he was working with at that time in Sydney.

Simone’s response – “I know Robyn, she is speaking to our team next Tuesday in Sydney.” Can you believe that? What are the chances of a conversation in Shanghai between two people who knew me (and I worked out I was in Tweed Heads at that time) – chatting about something I was doing in North Sydney.

Tweed Heads – Shanghai – Singapore – North Sydney – true networking in our global marketplace

Closer to home, I regularly watch the sunrise on my morning walks and hopefully see a whale or two, though the season is almost over, so the whales are few and far between this week. Point Danger is a beautiful headland between Snapper Rocks and Duranbah Beach and has a great view of the horizon and is a fantastic whale spotting location. Yesterday I was walking past Point Danger and stopped to chat to a photographer I had spoken to a couple of times previously. Whales were few and far between and he mentioned that he puts his photos on flickr – and had taken some great cloud photos that morning.

We chatted away as you do on an early Sunday morning and I said I would check out his photos which I did later that day. They were excellent and as an amateur photographer, I thought I must look at some of his earlier shots and see if they were always as good as they are now. So I randomly flicked back through his photo library and there were many brilliant nature images.  Then I saw a photo of my Kingscliff hairdresser, who had told me ages ago about a  trek he did through Tasmania and Cradle Mountain. Amazingly,  Larry the photographer and Trevor the hairdresser were on the same Tasmanian trek.

Those two degrees of separation are at it again.

In my networking presentations I often say that no one wears a sign dangling from their ears or their wrist with a list of all the people that they know. If they did, you could then know before you even start a conversation, the reason for connecting with them.

The randomness of networking is what really makes networking exciting. Two strangers meet, share a general conversation and then indirectly find they have mutual connections, shared interests or knowledge. Trust is built through communication and when there is a third party connection and sometimes almost an endorsement of that person, you are inclined to trust them that much more.

Bill Gates  calls this the trilogy of trust, the trust that one person has in another that is passed on to a third party. We certainly do live in a very small world.

Chances conversations not only expand your network but also make you realise how small the world really is today. Can I encourage you to speak to at least one total stranger every day? You will be surprised who you meet.  And always remember that every best was once a perfect stranger.

Happpy networking until next time.

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Gratitude – things can’t make you happy, only you can do that.

October 22, 2012

Out of the blue I had an phone call from an old friend last week – we hadn’t seen each other for 10+ years. Unfortunately the call was to let me know about a mutual friend, an old flat mate,  who had been diagnosed with cancer some time ago and didn’t have long to live. As you can imagine it was quite a distressing phone call and I committed to make contact with the sick friend and see her asap.

Of course we made all the excuses – sorry for not calling for so long, I meant to phone – all those pathetic excuses that we use when we realise that life has galloped away and many of the people we had such strong friendships with years ago are still around just doing their thing. And we are busy doing our thing, and the months and years fly by.

We move in different networks, live in different cities, but the strong connection is still there. The foundation of trust that was built thirty years ago when our lives were very different. And it’s amazing how much you can recall of the “old days.” The very sad thing is that as mutual friend’s names came up again and again, so many of them had died or had tragic lives.

Little did we know in our ’20s what lay ahead. Young, naive, almost gullible at times, but open to ideas, experiences, fun, friendships and socialising of course.  And now as one of the “old gang” is dying it makes us all realise just how vulnerable we as baby boomers are. It is our friend this time, who might it be next time?

When I did visit my dying friend, we talked about the ‘old days’ in the ’70s and ’80s when we worked together at one stage, looked at some old photos and laughed as we tried to remember who some of these people in the photo even were. My friend had worked at the one organisation for 20+ years and recalled that it was the best time of her life.

I was quite surprised to hear that and even more suprised when she asked me, “was that the best time of your life too?”

“No, it wasn’t.  Acutally I am living my best life now. It’s certainly not perfect, but I am healthy, happy and enjoy my life. It’s great. There is certainly room for improvement, but I love my life.” She asked what was so great about it?

And I described that morning to her – I woke early, walked to the beach, waited for the sun to rise – a huge red ball in the morning sky, saw eight whales heading south, a couple of them playing along the way. Chatted to a few friends, and strangers – whale watching has a way of uniting total strangers as they watch the whales do their thing. And one breached right in front of me – now that is a sight to behold. I read the weekend papers, had breakfast and just had a relaxing morning.

To be honest I think my friend thought I sounded pretty boring – but over the years, what I have learned is that things can’t make you happy – only you can do that. And if you are not living your best life – only you can change that.

I do wish I could wave a magic wand and take my friend’s pain and illness away. But reconnecting with this group of long time friends, made me realise more than ever how precious life is. And  how grateful I am to have choices every day how I want my life to be. Sometimes there are tough decisions to be made and I try not to shy away from them too much. I am responsible for everything in my life – the good and the bad.  Yes there are a million things I would change if I had my time over, different choices I would have made for sure. But the present is all there is, right here, right now.

I don’t ever want to look back at years of my life and say that was my best life. I like to thing that I can create my best life every day.

What about you? Is there a time in your life that you think was better than today? I’m not talking about that fantastic holiday you had last year, or the day you won that huge contract. I’m talking about a length of time – months or years that you thought was better than the present. What would have to change for you to think you were living your best life today? Don’t get me wrong, I have bad days, I had a couple of really crappy ones last week, but you move on, you make decisions and you get back on the bike.

I saw a great bumper sticker today – it said – “expect a miracle”. What miracle are you expecting?

My advice would be don’t wait for the miracle, it might happen, and it might not. While you are waiting, why not start by being grateful for what do you have?

This year, at the end of each day,  I started writing down 3 things I am grateful for. Even on the bad days, I am still grateful for the lessons.

Happy networking until next time.

Nature and Networking – another great way to connect

October 4, 2011

Many of you know I am a humpback whale fan – and am blessed to live close to the Rainbow Bay/Greenmount Beach/Point Danger area close to the Qld. border.At this time of year, At this time of year, I am always on the look out for whales as I complete my morning walk around the headland – as many of the humpback whales head south from their annual migration to Hervey Bay.

This week, I (and many people on the walking trail) saw an amazing sight – a pod of six whales, possibly two mothers and their calves were swimming in a row and as each came to the surface and exhaled a high water spout – it appeared almost as synchronised breathing. Each of the six water spouts came up within 10 seconds of each other. This amazing sight was hypnotic – almost like six fountains spurting into the sky across a very calm ocean and it continued for many minutes as the whales gracefully made their way along the coast line.

And the other side of this wonderful sight was the conversations that were started with people, who you previously walked past with a friendly “morning” but not much more. These beautiful whales had brought many people together and we could not help but comment on this amazing sight. And consequently share our names, our whale experiences and engage with each other.

Watching rows of surfers lined up waiting for that perfect wave, actually turned away from the waves and turned to face this extraordinary whale parade was quite a vision – times like this you really wish you had your favourite camera to capture the magic moment.

And just as in networking at business networks, the next time you see that person with the whale connection, you have certainly gone from stranger to acquaintance and engage in conversation again and again.

What are your passions? What are the fun things that you like to do in nature? Maybe you have not thought of creating networking opportunities out of these situations – but there is no faster way to connect with someone than to find that you are both passionate about the same thing.

As the market continues to tighten, maybe it’s time to take the blinkers off and look at combining more of your passions with your everyday life. Remember no one wears a sign on their forehead saying be really nice to me, I am going to introduce you to your next biggest client, new best friend, flat mate, partner – whoever. Yet every connection we make starts with a simple word – “Hi!”

In the next thirty days, why not set yourself a task to combine your special interests with your networking and ideally speak to at least 10 strangers in the next thirty days about your passion/special interest – ideally why you are doing it. Remember, don’t try to sell yourself or anything else – just connect, engage and have a quality conversation. Who knows where it may lead?
Have fun until next time.

Networking & Sporting Events – a great combination

October 4, 2011

What a great time of year to be networking with all the sporting finals and the World Cup happening. Last week was a great opportuntiy to reconnect with a number of clients who are football mad – even if their teams ere not in the finals. Pre-game everyone has an opinion on which team will win and why. And of course it’s another story post-game – “if that last goal had not hit the post”, or “they truly just missed out” – and so it goes.

I was very fortunate to learn a valuable  lesson from one of my early mentors Doug Malouf, 20 years ago when I first started speaking professionally. I was checking in with Doug after a big presentation I had given. And I made the comment, that they were all raving on about the cricket results and I really had no interest at all.

And I will never forget his words, “Robyn, it’s not about YOU, it’s about your audience.” If they are interested in cricket for whatever reason, it is important to them, get interested. I pleaded that I didn’t understand the game, “so ask them to explain it to you. Robyn, what will get you through your speaking career is always knowing the two teams at the top of the ladder and the bottom of the ladder – across all codes. Scan the sporting pages, and even if you don’t totally understand the game, you can always ask the question – what you do think about XYZ? (whoever was in the headlines that day).

I always took on board Doug’s suggestions, what’s the point of having a mentor if you don’t listen to them? So the next presentation I gave, remembering this was the early ’90s, when pagers were around, I came back from the break with the latest cricket score – 4 for 198. I didn’t exactly know what it meant – but the audience were delighted to hear it. 

  In the next few weeks Australia will stop for 3 minutes (plus) for the running of the Melbourne Cup. Why not consider running a sweep for your clients? Decide on a budget for prizes 1st, 2nd, 3rd and last placed horses. The prizes need not be expensive gifts – maybe some of your clients would donate a few prizes for the sweep and vice versa.

Make contact  with your clients the day prior to the Melbourne Cup telling them about the sweep and advise you will email them their house on the morning of the Cup. Have fun on Melbourne Cup Day and of course you will need to email them the day after to advise who had the winning horses. Don’t be surprised if when you make that first or second contact, the client  says something like, “we were just talking about you the other day, saying we would have to get more “widgets” (whatever your product or service is).

Good networking is based on great communication and staying connected. Have fun with the Melbourne Cup sweep – and look for an event in your local community to celebrate the race – it’s always a fun event and you never know who you might meet on the day.

Have fun, be friendly and most of all value your connections.

What do you take to a business networking event?

August 14, 2011

Now some of you might be thinking, well I take some business cards, and some blank cards (in case I meet someone who doesn’t have a card on them), a pen, a notebook. What I would like to talk about with this blog are the non visible or non obvious things you take to a networking event or to work everyday – these include:

1. Your connections – all the people that you know from years, months and weeks ago, people you currently and previously worked with, your friends, current and past bosses, neighbours, school friends, people you have studied with, your LinkedIn and social media connections.  Yet no one is wearing a sign saying be really  nice to me, I am going to introduce you to your next boss, partner, flatmate, best friend, employee or connection. That is why it pays to be friendly to everyone – you never know who they know!

2. Your current and past roles/jobs/careers – you may be studying, even retired – but you still have loads of current and past experience. Not every job we are doing, is currently utilising ALL the skills we have. And sometimes a chance conversation triggers a discussion about something we do know about that is not necessarily obvious with our current job title.

3. Your passions and special interests – whether your passions include something as obscure as  breeding peach faced parrots or mainstram as following a local Aussie Rules, Rugby Union or Rugby League team – very few people have a solo passion – there are always others who have similiar passions. And again if we are at a business network, unless we are a guy wearing a rugby tie (which is a dead giveaway or our passion) or a Rotarian wearing a Rotary badge, our passions are not always obvious. Yet asking someone what they do outside of work and what they are interested in can start an entire conversation stream. And before we know it we have built trust through communication.

We are made up of  all 3 areas and if we were to put a value on the little piece where all three areas overlap – it would be PRICELESS.

How? Well let’s imagine that Hawaii is one of your favourite holiday locations – you have been there many times, visited all the Hawaian islands, know all the best deals available, where to stay, eat, what is worth seeing and where to shop. You know ALL the bits that are NOT in the guide books.

Now let’s imagine that Sue is going to Hawaii for the first time, has planned a 14 day holiday and is now overwelmed with where to go and what to do? Would you think that 10 minutes of YOUR time might set Sue on the right path and save her money, time and energy.

That’s where the definition of priceless comes in. Your knowledge, life experiences, connections, wisdom, current and past jobs, passions and special interests are PRICELESS.

So, the next time you go to a networking event – never ever allow yourself to feel intimidated – you have so much to share with anyone and everyone you meet. Network, have fun, befriend strangers – and never be surprised how much value people may place on your expertise.