Category Archives: social

social networking

All that’s needed to turn me from an introvert to a people person is the ability to skip small talk, at least in the beginning. Thank you, Internet!

Take today, for example. I was working on a wiki guide to social media on a client site when I heard a cheery voice introduce himself and say that he found me on a social network. A few minutes later, I was deep in conversation with someone I’d never met or even talked to before. He had noticed that my client contact had added me on LinkedIn, and that I was from IBM. Intrigued, he checked out my profile and read my blog. He was baffled by the Emacs posts, but he noticed my passion for social computing, and that was something that he was very interested in. We talked about knowledge management, technology adoption, influencing behavior, the different initiatives going on at the company. I recommended two books:

Influencer: The Power to Change Anything
by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, Al SwitzlerRead more about this book…
The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling: Mastering the Art and Discipline of Business Narrative
by Stephen DenningRead more about this book…

… and I’m definitely looking forward to more conversations.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if people in his company—and in other companies—could meet and talk to other people as easily as he found and talked to me? Wouldn’t it be great if people could skip past all the small talk and build rapport by talking about the things people are passionate about?

Creating opportunities

Okay, you definitely have to get this book. =) Read the chapter on
“Opportunity is Everywhere”, too. And “Repeat, repeat, repeat.” Great
role models, great stories, great tips.

Actually, just go and read the whole thing.

Darcy Rezac’s “Work The Pond: Use the Power of Positive Networking to
Leap Forward in Work and Life”. ISBN 0-7352-0402-0.

(Someday I’m going to have Amazon links…)

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Wanted: real-time calendaring for get-togethers

My social calendar tends to stay relatively full. I have to
consciously schedule breaks into it because otherwise I just pack it
with stuff. Google Calendar’s monthly view is great for keeping things
sorta organized. I’m really, really tempted to write a social app that
makes it easier to manage these get-togethers – what Filipinos call
“gimmicks”.

Such an app would have a floating list of non-time-specific
activities, with people indicating interest or even availability.
People should be able to take events from that list and schedule it
onto a group calendar.

There should be *some* way I can easily manage having multiple
overlapping circles of friends. See, there’s a reason why I’d rather
blend groups!

And all of this, of course, should be available from a mobile
interface so that I can go from one event to another.

But that’s too much interface complexity, so it has to stay inside my
head. ARGH!

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Networking tips: Bring your own nametag

I bought myself a pack of inkjet/laser self-adhesive name tags, which
turned out to be a remarkably good idea. Before heading to Dave
Forde’s networking get-together last Friday, I printed out a nametag
that not only gave my name but also included an experimental tagline:
“Tech evangelist, storyteller, conversationalist, geekette”.

Dave Forde’s networking get-together was a very informal one, just a
bunch of people standing around in a pub sipping beverages while
chatting. I was the only one with a nametag – a printed nametag, at
that! – and that garnered me quite a number of compliments for my
foresight. Despite the lack of nametags, I was generally good at
keeping everyone’s names sorted in my head. Having a printed nametag
on made it easier for people to remember my name in conversation,
though. Having felt the embarrassment of forgetting someone’s name
right after an introduction too many times, I’m glad I could make
things smoother for other people by wearing a nametag.

The nametag was also handy at the second networking event I went to on
the invitation of someone I’d just met at Dave Forde’s get-together.
At that event, people wore nametags of masking tape. Again, my large
printed nametag stood out, and the keywords on it prompted
conversations.

I think that bringing a prepared nametag to events is a terrific idea.
Even at events with proper nametags, preparing a nametag allows you to
pay more attention to design and to stand out from the crowd.

Clip-on nametags may be even more effective because then I don’t have
to worry about what material I’m wearing. They also allow other tricks.
I remember Richard Boardman’s nifty lifehack for
nametags. The CHI 2006 nametag holders were top-loading plastic, so he
put business cards behind his nametag. He also put business cards he
received into the nametag case. Very accessible location – no
shuffling around for a business card case.

Note to self: I should always carry masking tape and a marker to these
events. To help even more, perhaps I should always carry self-adhesive
nametags. Hmm…

Preparing a nametag was definitely a good idea. You should try it at
your next networking event!

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How to proactively network

Whether you have a business card collection that fills a bookshelf or
you’re trying to become comfortable with meeting new people, one way
to get much more value and happiness out of networking is to
proactively make things happen instead of waiting for them to occur.
Here’s how:

  1. Find out what people want. Ask people, “What can I do to help you succeed?” Keep asking until you get a good sense of what they’re looking for. The practice is good for them, too!
  2. Get out there and meet people. Too shy to talk to people at a networking event? Ask on behalf of a friend and you may find yourself more comfortable. Find conversation difficult? Think of it as an opportunity to discover ways to connect people to other people. You’ll find that good conversation isn’t really about you having something in common with others. It’s easier than that! All you need is at least one of your friends having at least one thing in common with others.
  3. Look for the connections. With every conversation and with every person you meet, think of connections you can make. Introduce people to other people and you’ll create lots of opportunities – and learn about people, too!

Make things happen. Find out what people around you want or need, and
look for ways you can help them grow. Life is a lot more fun that way!

For backstory, check out The power of proactively networking

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The power of proactively networking

I’ve reached another turning point in my life, another coming of age.
I’ve realized the power of proactive networking, and I have a feeling
that it’s going to change my life.

You see, I used to shy away from networking because I couldn’t think
of how I could add value to the conversation or what I could take
away. I went to a few networking events before I got tired of being
given the once-over by schmoozers who moved on when they realized that
I couldn’t give them any deals or opportunities. As a student, what
could I offer? And what could I ask them for? I didn’t want to waste
their time, didn’t want to prevent them from meeting other people they
could deal with.

I was insecure. That was exactly how I felt when I moved to Canada
from the Philippines, torn away from *my* network and suddenly back at
the bottom of the totem pole. I didn’t believe I could offer any
value, and so I couldn’t.

Over the past year and after so many conversations and books, though,
I think I’ve finally found myself—and I can’t believe that I hadn’t
realized this earlier.

How did I go about it? I credit two books with sparking a particularly
large number of aha! moments: Keith Ferrazzi’s “Never Eat Alone” and
Tim Sanders’ “Love is the Killer App.” Both books taught me that my
love of reading and learning could be valuable to other people, so I
had something to start with. My interest in other people helps them
discover more about life and themselves—another reason why people
enjoy sharing their insights with me. I give people an opportunity to
help, and in so doing, they grow as well. All I need to do is ask.

As I practiced the suggestions in these books, I found it easier and
easier – and more and more fun. I discovered that by consciously
reaching out, I could enrich my life and the lives of people around
me.

I don’t think of it as my “network”, not in the cold and calculating
sense of just wanting to add more nodes to a graph. No, these are
people whom I want to help grow and who care about my growth.

And last night, I realized something amazing: the power of
proactivity, of making things happen instead of waiting for things to
occur.

After a wonderful conversation about all sorts of topics including the
meaning of life, the challenges of entrepreneurship, and the joy of
networking, I asked my seven guests point-blank what they wanted and
how I could help them succeed. They told me—and my mind kicked into
high gear, thinking of whom I could introduce to them and what I could
help them with.

*This* is one of the things I’m not only good at, but I love doing.
Perhaps this is one of the things that I am meant to do. I’ve jokingly
described how I enjoy stuffing large amounts of information into my
brain in order to bring out one or two relevant items when people need
them. I’ve applied it in geeky contexts before: familiarizing myself with a list of open source
packages (all of Debian, at one point) helped me recommend just the right package for Jijo Sevilla when he was working on a point-of-sale system, while my background in computer science helped me tell Simon exactly which keywords he should use to find a good algorithm for a feature he wants to include in his product.

I want to do it with people, too. I want to keep people’s wants and
haves in mind. I *love* making those connections.

This was one of Sam Watkins‘ brilliant ideas,
some years ago: write down your wants and haves on your card, and
exchange this with others. OpenBC is a social networking site that’s playing around with the idea, too, which is why I like OpenBC a lot. The key point is: proactively find out what people want / have, and make those connections happen!

One of the difficulties I had was figuring out how to keep in touch
with people, how to do followup. Followup is incredibly important.
Proactively choosing to make things happen makes it really easy to
follow up and exercise those networking muscles. Every person I meet
and every conversation I have has the potential to reactivate old
connections, and I want to review old connections to find out what I
can help them with now. If they’re in my network, it’s because I think
they’re cool and I want them to succeed – and we’ll keep growing
together!

That gives me even more confidence when it comes to meeting other
people. I now bring *lots* of value to the conversation. Sure, I’m not
a CEO or even someone with decision-making power. Even as a student,
though, I can help people succeed. I’ve been told I have interesting
ideas and that I’m a good listener. I love asking questions and having
conversations. And I know lots of really cool people. I want to know
more peopl because the more people I know, the more interconnections I
can make and the more stories I can tell.

“Your network is your net worth,” said Tim Sanders – and mine is growing. I care about the people in it. I want them to succeed. I want to learn from all these interesting people – strangers, acquaintances, friends. That gives me the chutzpah I need to walk up to someone I’ve never met – the power of proactive networking.

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