Exit Your Comfort Zone and Become a Networking Pro

networking
This is an excerpt from Ambition Redefined: Why the Corner Office Doesn’t Work for Every Woman and What to do Instead by Kathryn Sollman. Kathryn is a recognized leader in helping women navigate the many stages of work and life.

Become a Networking Pro

One of my coaching clients, a 56-year-old woman from California who was navigating her way back to the workforce, realized she needed to network far out of her comfort zone. She emailed me this question:

I have connections at organizations where I’d love to work in a flexible way, but they are either people I’m not close to or people I don’t feel comfortable approaching. Call it anxiety or an old-fashioned sense that I’d be “using” them to get a job, but it’s an obstacle for me. How do I get over this? Just be pleasant and directly state what I want? That’s it, done?

Yes, that’s pretty much it. Here’s how to do it well:

 

“The best things in life are often waiting for you at the exit ramp of your comfort zone.” -Karen Salmansohn

 

Establish even a very loose connection.

Networking involves a shared connection, not just out-of-the-blue cold calls to strangers. Networking connections do not need to be people you know well: you can establish connections through relatives, school or employer alumni groups, club members, or a friend of a friend of a friend. Figure out how to give your connection the comfort level of knowing that in some way you are connected. It could be as simple as having children in the same soccer league or being connected to the same person on LinkedIn.

 

Be specific about the help you need.

No one wants to hear, “I’d just like to pick your brain about flexible fundraising jobs.”  That’s a conversation that could wander aimlessly with no easy end. Busy people want to slot you in for a quick brain dump of specific information they have at hand. A better approach would be, “I’m trying to get an idea of how most large fundraising departments are allocating part-time responsibilities among functions, and I’d like to see how yours is structured in relation to peer organizations.” If you lay this out in an email or LinkedIn message, your connection can think about and summarize a worthwhile, bite-sized response. This very focused networking request would help you gather information about where and how your skills and experience would most likely fit at your connection’s organization and many others. When you ask a dozen networking connections the same question, you start gathering valuable anecdotal research.

 

Limit the amount of time your connection needs to invest.

A Travel Guide to Training Around the World

global travel

Learn from Other Cultures

Every year I have the opportunity to travel and conduct business around the world. Learning from other cultures is something I treasure.

The world is getting smaller. When I run into someone I know halfway around the world, I’m no longer surprised. And I’m reminded daily that social media is an exercise in global communication.

Getting a team trained, no matter where they’re located, can be a daunting task, even without cultural differences. Add in the need to think globally, and it can be overwhelming.

That’s where Donna Steffey and 15 other authors can help, with their book Destination Facilitation: A Travel Guide to Training Around the World. As someone who has conducted training in 25 countries, Donna is someone I was eager to talk with about developing a global mindset.  

Donna Steffey, MBA, CPLP, president of Vital Signs Consulting, is an international trainer, author, facilitator of the ATD Master Trainer™ Program, and adjunct faculty member at Lake Forest Graduate School of Management.

 

“Cultural Intelligence develops intentionally with your commitment to increasing your global mindset.” -Donna Steffey

 

The Impact of Globalization on Training

How are the major trends in technology and globalization impacting the field of training?

DestinationFacilitation-EditedbyDonnaSteffey-bookCoverThe traditional face-to-face classroom training is now less than half of all training done. According to the Association for Talent Development (ATD) 2017 State of the Industry report, that means that 51% of training is delivered via webinars, mobile, self-paced online, or other methods like DVDs or Podcasts. This represents a 10% change in the last 5 years away from traditional classroom training. With over 300 multi-national organizations employing over 35 million people around the globe, online technologies really do become the best method for reaching remote employees.

We see a trend toward mobile learning with 67% of people saying they now use mobile devices to access learning. What is interesting is that only 20% of organizations have formal mobile learning programs.

A trend known as micro-learning is becoming popular to shorten the path from learning to succeeding. Micro-learning is a bite-sized chunk of learning lasting 3-10 minutes and only covering 1-2 crucial points. It often includes interactivity and testing. According to the Dresden University of Technology in Germany, micro-learning improves retention by 20%.

 

67 percent of people use mobile devices to access learning.

Launch the Best You

launch

Time to Launch

Not too long ago, I spoke with an astronaut about what it takes to launch into space. Since I don’t work at NASA and am not a rocket scientist, we were way outside of my comfort zone. He was patient and talked me through the various parts of a successful launch.

It occurred to me, as he was sharing his extensive knowledge, how so many of the elements in a rocket launch are appropriate for launching things right here on planet Earth.

 

“We are more fulfilled when we are involved in something bigger than ourselves.” -John Glenn

Energy Required

The factor that really interested me was the energy required to launch. We talked about the amount of fuel it takes to propel a rocket into space. I learned that the Space Shuttle had over two million pounds of solid propellant in its boosters.

Two million pounds!

All of this is to fire up the engines, create liftoff, and escape the velocity of the Earth’s atmosphere. The rocket must overcome gravity drag.

What may have been a simple, elementary explanation for a non-scientist crystallized some ideas for me.

If we want to launch something big, it often requires more fuel than we imagine.

 

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” -Moliere

 

Feed Your Success

Asking for Help is a Sign of Strength

Leadership Skill: Asking for Help

I don’t even recall how the argument started.

Somehow a simple text message morphed from a few sentences to an arrow that found its mark, spearing into an area that was still inflamed from other hits.

You know how that happens. A few words conjure up deeply-held emotions, past hurts, yet unspoken pain.

We worked it out, my friend and I, and our friendship survived and deepened because of it.

At the end of one difficult conversation, he said something that stuck with me: “Skip, you may think you’re fully transparent, and I guess in some ways you are. But,” his voice trailed off.

I waited, wondering what the next words would be.

“But, you’re not really good at asking for help.”

For many years, I’ve told the people who work for me that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

There is truth to Richard Bach’s quote, “We teach best what we most need to learn.”

 

“We teach best what we most need to learn.” -Richard Bach

 

My Request for Help

Keep reading to see my personal request for help. I can’t tell you how appreciative I am for the assistance.

 

Learn to Ask for Help

I prefer to give—to be someone who serves. When I was a teenager, I worked in a restaurant and just felt better when I was the one pouring a drink rather than sitting there getting served. It just makes me comfortable. I’d rather host a party than attend one.

Pride can stop us from asking others. But so can humility. Pride says, “I have no need of anyone because I can do anything.” Humility says, “My needs are not worthy enough to bother anyone.”

So you can’t judge the “why” behind someone not asking.

Learning to ask for help just seems harder for some people than for others. When others ask in a polite manner for something, I’m in awe. It impresses me. I guess because it’s hard for me to do. And it’s a crucially important leadership skill.

Keep reading to the bottom and see what I’m asking.

 

Asking for help:

Shows vulnerability.

Brene Brown teaches the power of vulnerability. She says that, “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”

 

Increases our connectedness.

Nadeem Aslam writes, “Pull a thread here and you’ll find it’s attached to the rest of the world.” As I ask you to help me, I’m increasing that attachment to you and to others.

How to Achieve Stadium Status

stadium filled

Take Your Business to the Big Time

Every coach, actor, athlete and performer wants to achieve stadium status. And every brand covets the opportunity to be at the pinnacle of public awareness.

John Brubaker knows the strategies behind the biggest names who have risen to the top of the game. He shares the tactics and strategies you can employ to help your own business soar. John is a consultant, speaker, and author of numerous books, who teaches how you can turbocharge your performance. His latest book, Stadium Status: Taking Your Business to the BIG TIME, immediately caught my attention. I recently asked John to share more of his observations.

 

“You aren’t wealthy until you have something that money can’t buy.” –Garth Brooks

 

What is stadium status?

Stadium Status: To be a big enough star that you could fill an entire stadium when performing a concert, you know you’re big once you’ve achieved Stadium Status. —UrbanDictionary.com

That scholarly journal, “Urban Dictionary,” defines stadium status very succinctly: essentially, it means that if you’ve achieved stadium status, you are a big star. Stadium status is, on some level, a goal that lives within every artist, entertainer, and entrepreneur.

 

“Don’t compare your preseason to someone else’s postseason.” –Coach Morgan Randall

 

Lessons from Garth

Toward the back of the book, you talk about Garth Brooks. What can non-country music stars learn from his performances?

Brooks is so dialed in to his customer’s perspective that, in every arena he performs in, the morning of the performance he sits up in the back row or in the obstructed-view seat that is the worst in the house. He does this to better understand how his customers see him and how well they see him. The back row customers tend to be some of the most loyal fans at any concert. These are folks who have probably pinched pennies and saved up for months to purchase his tickets.

To give a few special fans in the back row a true front row experience, at the beginning of his shows Brooks sends security guards to the “nose bleed” seats in the back row. Arena security asks to see the customers’ tickets and then explains to them they are sitting in the wrong seats. Right when they begin to get confused or upset because their seats can’t get any worse, they’re told that they’ll be escorted to the correct seats Mr. Brooks has waiting for them . . . in the front row. I saw him do this in the early nineties in Pittsburgh’s Mellon Arena and again in 1999. And he continues to surprise and delight fans today.

Everyone can benefit from putting themselves in their customers shoes. Secret shop your own store, call your 800 number and see how long you get put on hold. Email or reach out to customer service on social media to experience how your customers experience your business. I promise you that you’ll get an education money can’t buy.

 

“In any team sport, the best teams have consistency and chemistry.” –Roger Staubach

 

What’s the best way to use affirmations?