“Networking isn’t about connecting people; it’s about connecting people with ideas and people with opportunities." – Michelle Jennae
In working through a pandemic, every day teaches us a different lesson. One of the most valuable lessons is also the simplest – our network is our professional lifeline.
It is impossible to ignore that your organization is changing, hour by hour. Leaders everywhere are operating in a new and shifting reality without a playbook. They are doing their best to keep the business running while responding to news reports and government guidelines, sustaining what seems to work, setting new priorities, rewriting the rules, and implementing a slew of changes. Like it or not, now is the time to do more than just produce great work. It’s the time to broaden your impact and your network.
In today’s climate, remember to be realistic and respect others’ time. It’s likely that your connections, both new and seasoned, are concerned about their future and under pandemic-induced stress. They are juggling work, home, and family responsibilities. Because none of us can control what others believe, think, say, or do, you should be curious and stay optimistic.
Start with people you know. Invite a close work colleague to join you for a virtual coffee break and offer the choice of a phone call instead of a video call for a change of pace. Show up curious and ready to listen when you ask how they’re doing. Inquire about the changes they see in their department and across the organization. What rumors are circulating? Who is influencing decisions? What opportunities are popping up? Offer your help and if you want an introduction to someone or something else, ask for it. Use what you discover to reset your priorities and stretch your imagination. Explore the different ways you can contribute your skills to support the change initiatives and make an impact alone or in collaboration with your colleagues.
Next, move on to a new connection. Calendars don’t lie. If you are spending more time with your direct reports than with your colleagues, your boss, your boss’ boss, or other influencers in the organization, switch things up. Consider everyone who has participated in a video or conference call to be a potential member of your network, including the CEO, other executives, and your colleagues in different places and positions throughout the organization.
It’s important to stay true to your personality when you reach out to people via email, whether you identify as an extrovert, ambivert, or introvert. If you have an approach that works, use it. If not, adapt this simple 4-step plan and connect with anyone.
Now it’s time to target someone and create your email. Keep your emails short and specific. When you get a positive response, consider it a win. When you don’t, move on without taking it personally. Need more? Here is a sample email:
Subject Line: Here to Help! [Grabs attention & sparks curiosity]
Hi Adam, these days, you are leading the Reopen GlobalX/Austin Task Force. [this simple acknowledgement singles him out and gets his attention]
Forbes published this article last week (hyperlinked) on navigating a safe reentry to work. Check out the section on lab safety. [Adds value]
Before heading up our channel marketing team, I was a facilities lead and oversaw the redesign and installation of 6 floors of offices and labs in a space similar to ours. I am curious to hear about the challenges you are facing and, once I understand them, I’ll know how I can help you succeed. [Specific ask]
Any chance you can free up time for a brief phone or video call? What’s better, tomorrow or Monday? Morning or afternoon? [This simple ask is assertive and offers Adam flexibility which makes his saying yes easy]
Thank you. I am really looking forward to talking with you.
Name and contact info [Make it easy for him to call you or forward your request.]
You network is your lifeline. Give to get by being the colleague you want other people to be. Be approachable and as generous as possible with your time and expertise. Answer emails and whenever possible, comment on blogs and social media posts and share interesting articles and videos. When someone reaches out, say yes to an informational interview, make an introduction, and forward a resume without expecting anything in return. When the tables turn, and they will, the people in your network will be there to support you and happy to help.
Well hidden behind a mask of mixed emotions often lies a particularly difficult emotion that can leave us reeling and slipping into one of those can’t-catch-your-breath, ugly crying jags.
Pandemic life is our new reality and a daily lesson in navigating the
5 Stages of Grief and Loss, introduced by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her famous 1969 book, On Death and Dying.
Do these look familiar?
What we mourn is deeply personal. Moving through the stages of grief and loss is never a straight-line journey; it’s unique and unpredictable. Most days, we find ourselves simultaneously mourning myriad losses and experiencing a wave of distinct emotions.
Ignoring emotions is futile and counterproductive. Try Melissa O’Brien’s six mindful steps to tune-in and discover a healthy way to work with your emotions.
Tuning-in to emotions takes practice. Throughout the day, pause and ask yourself, what am I feeling right now? Work through the 6 steps and find a response that works for you.
The future is an enormous question mark. Take it a day at a time and do your best. In time, your future self will smile and say thank you.
The future belongs to the rebel and there’s a rebel in each of us. Author Francesca Gino identifies these 5 rebel traits. How many can you claim? How many are you up for developing?
Taking this quiz answers the question: what kind of rebel am I?
Want to know more? Check out this summary of Rebel Talent.
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what work makes you come alive and go do it.”
A person’s name is music to their ears. Correctly pronounce someone’s name when you greet them and you instantly make a connection that’s emotionally and physically empowering. Because it’s an audio, visual, and kinesthetic experience you quickly convey a sense of psychological belonging and inclusion. *
Belonging is one of the 4 pillars of a meaningful life presented by Emily Esfahani Smith in The Power of Meaning – The True Route to Happiness. (The other pillars are purpose, transcendence, and storytelling.) Pronouncing someone’s name correctly is a mark of respect.
On the flip side, mispronouncing someone’s name instantly short circuits the connection. Studies of K – 12 classrooms in 2012 concluded that mispronouncing the names of students constituted a racial microaggression by creating shame and disassociation from their culture. How many students witness these infractions grade after grade and learn that correctly pronouncing someone’s name isn’t important and unintentionally carry that belief into the workplace?
Jennifer Gonzalez identifies 3 kinds of people:
If you are a calibrator, bravo. Continue leading by example.
If you aren’t a calibrator, become one with Ruchika Tulshyan as your guide. Vow not to be arrogant, flippant, or lazy and get to work using the ideas she outlines in her article If You Don’t Know How to Say Someone’s Name, Just Ask:
When people mispronounce your name, try this:
At the Berklee College of Music in Boston, international students represent close to 28% of the student population. At the many commencements I’ve attended, I am always impressed by the care presenters take to correctly pronounce the name of every single graduate, faculty member, and guest.
Inclusion starts with us. Work to get names right and enjoy turning personal interactions into opportunities to make the genuine connections we all enjoy.
*John M. Yeager, Ed.D, MAPP
Enjoy this guest blog from friend and client, Amanda Reilly!
What Can We Learn from Rebel Leaders?
By Amanda F. Reilly, MS, MBA
Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino’s Rebel Talent: Why It Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life is an inspiring read for change agents in any industry. One significant paradox of professional life today is the contradictory status of the rebel – the employee who challenges the status quo. Today, most managers are tasked with shaking things up and asking their employees to do the same. This maxim has become part of workplace nomenclature, but “shaking things up” means different things to different people. How can we be different and creative yet still uphold the corporate values of our organizations? How can we implement improvements and make change stick? Many of us struggle to find the answers to these questions.
Although Gino started her research project as a way to understand the psychology of rule breaking in the workplace, it morphed into something more – a compendium of short stories and nuggets of wisdom about people who rebelled against norms, reframed problems, and crafted innovative solutions. As she points out, we often hold on to what we know, replicating and applying similar approaches for every problem. Gino explains that we “adhere to social norms – the unwritten rules about how to behave in a particular culture, society, or social group, ranging from a friendship to a work team to a nation” (Gino, p. 8). But that approach does not move one forward in business or in life. Instead, having the courage to break free from the confines of this thinking – and to be a bit rebellious – can help push us toward innovative solutions. As Gino remarks, “Rule breaking does not have to get us into trouble, if done correctly and in the right doses – in fact, it can help us get ahead” (p. xvi).
Rebels can literally be found everywhere. As an example, Gino uses Napoleon Bonaparte’s unconventional and empathetic leadership style, which engaged and motivated his troops to win battles. Captain Chesley Sullenberger – the hero pilot better known as “Sully” – had a commitment to lifelong learning that led him to fight the complacency of routine and to reframe every flight as an opportunity to learn “some new knowledge or insight he had not considered before” (p. 85). Sully also took great care to understand how mistakes happened; he “learned from cases where human judgment failed under pressure” and viewed “expertise . . . as a continuous process” (p. 89). And Chef Massimo Bottura, owner and chef of Osteria Francescana, who was recently featured on the 60 Minutes segment “The Pavarotti of Pasta” is a “humble rebel” in the food industry. Bottura, who values learning and experience over sticking to tradition, reflects that “when you think you know everything, you’ve stopped growing. . . . [K]eep your eyes open and ask questions. You should always keep the door open to the unexpected” (p. 222).
According to Gino’s research, you can easily practice cultivating the five core elements that are essential in a rebel leader, simply by adjusting your mind-set:
We all have the ability to enact change and be a positive, productive rebel. Learning from others who have led from the trenches, we can examine our own path to see how small wins slowly push the needle toward innovation, creative enrichment, and fulfillment in both our professional and personal lives.
Gino, Francesca. (2018). Rebel Talent: Why it pays to break the rules at work and in life. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
CBS. Chef Massimo Bottura: The Pavarotti of Pasta [Video file). (2018, December 30). Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/chef-massimo-bottura-the-pavarotti-of-pasta-60-minutes-interview/
What are the unique skills, insights and experiences that each one of your employees, colleagues, and clients bring to their work? Cultural diversity is on the rise and five generations are working side-by-side. Success demands that we ignore the stereotypes and make genuine connections with people.
Tune-up your leadership skills with help from Rebecca Knight’s Managing People From 5 Generations.
When you peer into your crystal ball, do you see a career move in your future? If yes, you’re in good company. Twenty-eight percent of people surveyed by University of Phoenix hope to change jobs within a year and are either actively looking or will consider a move for the right opportunity. Your success in landing the best job hinges on the people in your network, the colleagues and friends who will alert you to new opportunities before they are posted and introduce you to their colleagues who are influencing decisions or doing the hiring.
Who do you want to add to your network? It’s OK to blur the lines between your personal and professional life. If you are female, you’ll see in this excerpt from a recent study, Understanding the Dynamics of Network Inequality that it’s especially important to think strategically and approach events with a plan that targets the specific attendees you want to meet. In an experiment at an I. T. conference, attendees received an e-mail with networking recommendations from the conference organizer four days in advance. In the control group that received generic advice, “women met fewer new contacts, spent less time talking to them, and added fewer connections on LinkedIn” than men did. However, naming specific (though randomly selected) attendees to connect with allowed women to increase “the number of new contacts met by 57%, the time spent talking with new contacts by 90%, the number of connections added on LinkedIn by 29%, and the odds of changing jobs in the 12 months after the event by 1.6.”
Looking for a networking recharge? Checkout Andrea Nierenberg’s 9-step I.N.C.E.N.T.I.V.E system.
We are so happy to be presenting the Unleash the Power of Your Story workshop on May 30! A good story can lead to new business, motivate people to support an important cause, or foster new relationships. Everyone has many stories - the challenge is deciding which story to tell and then telling it well. In this fun, interactive, and supportive workshop, learn how to craft stories that make an impact from expert storyteller Cheryl Hamilton.
Cheryl Hamilton is a relentless storyteller and professional public speaking consultant. She routinely appears in productions throughout New England, including on The Moth MainStage, Soundbites, and The Corner. She is also the director of Massmouth, a Boston-based non-profit organization that promotes the timeless art of storytelling. In her role, she curates the national television show Stories from the Stage in partnership with WGBH and World Channel. She is also the creator and curator for Suitcase Stories, a performance series that honors refugees and immigrants. Cheryl has delivered thousands of presentations nationwide for audiences of 5 to 1,500. Learn more at www.cherylhamilton.com.
In an open office, “headphones are replacing walls when people want to block out everything (and everyone) in order to concentrate.” In his latest column, When Headphones Get in the Way of Office Communication, New York Times Workologist, Rob Walker offers advice that’s universal. No one appreciates being interrupted mid-thought or mid-project. The next time you want someone’s input or ideas, choose the right approach:
Since they can’t wait to share their ideas, and enlist you as their sounding board and brainstorm buddy, the extroverts among us could lead us to believe that they’ve got a lock on innovative ideas. Change makers Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Rosa Parks would quietly disagree. If you’re curious about what the other half is thinking, ask them.
Soliciting ideas from observant and deep thinking introverts calls for curiosity, carefully observing people in action, and subtly adapting our communication style to match theirs. When you meet people where they are and you ask what they think, await their reply, then acknowledge them, you send a powerful message: you value their ideas and respect a myriad of different approaches to thinking, learning and communicating.