Corporate Speed Dating Anxiety

Networking Blog

I’m going to a Salesforce partner event this morning called the “Salesforce Partner Exchange for DISA” which I’m sure will be a fabulous event. They do a great job putting these things together. A lot of great information comes out of them and you get a better understanding of not just the organization in focus, but the partner community that is supporting that organization as well. All of that is great however, one of the big draws for these events is the networking aspect of it.  You’ve got a lot of different people from all the different parts of the Salesforce value chain and community including product vendors, services vendors, consultancies, other customers, and just a whole slew of different types of people that are engaged around this type of event.  For a lot of people that’s a big draw, myself included.  You want to meet other people that are a part of the community and see how they fit in, see how what they are doing dovetails with what you are doing, are there any synergies and so on and so forth.

In these types of events, a lot of times I feel a little bit uncomfortable. It feels a little bit like I’m speed dating people.  You go in and you meet this person, you have a 3 to 5 minute conversation with them, and then you move on to the next person. It all just feels a little bit artificial. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is but I often feel a little bit put off by the personal interaction in those circumstances. I mean I’ve met a lot of great people at these types of event. I’ve met people who have over time really become integral parts of my business and close personal friends but it hasn’t ever felt very natural to me. So all in all I always have a little bit of dread of going to these things. I feel kind of uncomfortable because I’m not a naturally outgoing person in the sense of meeting new people.  I talk to people that I’ve know for a while to the point where they’re almost all searching for ways to get me to shut up but it’s hard for me to go into something like that and meet people that I haven’t met before.

As I was thinking about all that this morning, I realized that everyone’s in the same boat at these events. So there shouldn’t be a feeling of discomfort about this idea that you’re speed dating each other. My plan for today is to address that head on and essentially try to do briefer types of meets.  One of the classic mistakes I make at an event like this is I’ll meet somebody, find them really interesting, spend the next hour talking to them and probably minimize some  of the value that I could get from an event like this.

One of the points of an event like this is to expose the diversity of the community to you so that you can really expand the breadth of folks that you know. There’s always the possibility in these to meet people that can help you, that you can work together with, and that you can socialize with. Getting too locked into any particular conversation is probably counterproductive so I’m going to try to be much more concise in my meetings. I’m also really going to make an effort to do more with the time that I have in these and not be locked into my phone. Eyes on your phone is basically the universal sign for don’t talk to me.

I’d love to know how other people address this type of issue. I know it’s fairly common for those of us who aren’t natural networkers to try figure out how do I do a better job of taking advantage of these types of events and meet people that I have something in common with.  So I’m going to try to do a better job today of reaching out to people and being the first person to say how instead of just being the respondent. I’d love to know what tactics and techniques work for other people who aren’t naturally extraverted at these events.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Using local sports to expand your network

sports and netwoking

The other night I had the opportunity to go to the Inaugural Monumental Sports and Entertainment Business league event at Verizon center and I think it’s a really interesting and exciting concept.  As happens in any medium to large city, you end up over time doing business with the same network of folks that you know and for better or for worse you stay within those networks. There’s a lot of benefits to that. It’s great to do business with people that you’ve known a long time and that you trust but it can be a bit limiting. The problem is that it’s hard to meet the right kinds of folks that you’re going to want to work with going forward and I think that is the neat thing about something like the Monumental Sports and Entertainment Business League. What they’re trying to do is draw on the fact that they’ve got a ready built community of people that share a common bond or common passion for something and in this case its hometown sports whether it’s the Capitals, the Wizards, or the Mystics. It’s a shared passion for something that gives you that sort of immediate common bond with other people.

I never thought about it this way but when they were opening up the event they were talking about the fact that Verizon center was the largest gathering point for people in the area. There are so many people that are so passionate about their hometown sports it does provide a sort of unique opportunity to group people around that and expand your network.  I know that as you meet, greet, and talk to different people it’s amazing how the fact that you have that common bond eases you into making some of the normal hurdles you associate with understanding where other people are coming from as a business standpoint easier to overcome.

Now I don’t know if there are other teams around the NBA or NHL who do this but I think it’s just and absolutely incredible concept. I’m excited to get to the next event and continue to meet some of the great people that I met at this past event.  So I’m curious as to what other people’s experiences were at sort of closed community network events. What other types of shared passions have helped bond together communities around something where the purpose of that event is one part whatever that activity is and the other part is about the networking and expanding your circle of folks that you may want to do business with?

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Maintaining the health of your social and professional circles

Maintain the health of you social and professional circles

I’m going to try something new out today. I’m not going to tell you that this is a tried and true method I’ve used to maintain a healthy network or that this has led to me being a happier or more successful person because I’ve never tried this before. All I know is I was thinking about this the other day and I think I’m just going to go ahead and give it a shot. So I have talked quite a bit about how important maintaining your network is. I think sometimes when you say networking it makes it sound really commercial and I don’t necessarily mean it in that sense. Certainly some of your career success and your professional success is predicated on the folks that you know but it’s not just that those people connect you to opportunities. It’s that those people help you experience new things and learn about things you otherwise wouldn’t know. It’s the same thing in your network that is purely social.

Those are people that are going to influence what you think about and how you think about the things you think about. When you get right down to it, those are huge factors in not just how successful you’ll be but how happy you’ll be.  So I’ve decided that I’m going to try something today that I’ve never tried before. I’m going to reach out to one person that I haven’t talked to in a really long time.  The thing that got me thinking about this was one of my childhood best friends, who’s been a friend for practically forever, and I hadn’t spoken to him since our 20 year high school reunion. What prompted us to reconnect was finding out that his father was going to pass and you know that’s one of those things that just shouldn’t happen that way. So I’m going to be a little more proactive and I’m going to talk to someone that I haven’t really spoken to in a long time. I want to ensure that I maintain that connection to people that I’ve known for a long time, I’ve always enjoyed speaking with, and not take it for granted; because it shouldn’t take something terrible to bring us together.

The second thing I’m going to do is reach out to somebody that I believe can change my life.  Someone that I maybe don’t know but would like to know because I think that what they do or what they stand for is exciting or interesting or could be a changer for me.  Maybe I’ll be successful or maybe I won’t but at least I’ll have tried to make that connection.

The third thing I’m going to do is reach out to somebody who I maybe only connected with via email or had casual routine or business sort of exchanges with. I’m going to reach out to that person on the phone and see if the person behind the mail is somebody that I would like to talk to on a more regular basis.  So I’m going to do all those things and I’m guessing those will take me less than an hour. I’m just curious where it will lead.  I’ll report back on if those things translated into anything either that were worthwhile either personally or professionally.  I’m curious what other people think or if other people have attempted things like this. Do you regularly make an effort or schedule time to refresh or renew relationships that may be getting stale over time or that had been neglected?  What are the things that you do to maintain the health of your social and professional circles?

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.