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  January 9, 2015
Making It Personal...

 

 

"The currency of networking is not greed but generosity" 
                                  ~ Keith Ferrazzi

 
A few days ago I received a personal e-mail from a name I didn’t immediately recognize.

The e-mail caught my attention due to its opening line...

"Happy New Year’s Jim!  It’s been a long time and I hope you and the kids are well... "

The email went on to give a brief summary of what he’s been up to lately and then it asked me to do him a small personal favor.  Would I please be so kind as to cast a vote for his new product entered in some popularity contest connected with the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

He signed the e-mail - Michael Pressley, giving me his new mobile number (it was a local exchange giving me even more reason to believe that I knew him).

I carefully studied the name and it did sound familiar... but I truly didn’t remember where I knew him...

I quickly went to my phone to see if his name was in my contact database but it wasn’t there...

Immediately thereafter, I logged onto my LinkedIn account and discovered that he was indeed a first level contact of mine... as I read through his bio information, I saw that we had both been involved in the same entrepreneur organization, some 15 years ago, and that we had several common friends... but I still couldn’t place the name or face.

It was then that I decided to call the number that he had provided.  

Michael picked up the phone on the third ring and I introduced myself... telling him that I had received his e-mail and sheepishly asked him where we knew each other from.

It was then, he who had to apologize as he explained to me that he had sent out the email to his entire list of LinkedIn contacts with the exact same message... (thinking that most of his contacts actually had kids).

I felt somewhat deceived at that point...

I asked him point blank if he really knew several of our common contacts from LinkedIn. However he put my concerns to rest after reciting several personal pieces of information about several of them (information that wasn’t easily accessible from public sources).

We ended our conversation by saying that we were both surprised that our paths hadn’t met sooner based on our many common friends and interests (San Diego is a relatively small town) and decided to set up a meeting to formally meet and discuss how we might be able to help each other in the future.

This chain of events really got me thinking about social media, networking and how personal relationships have changed over the past 10-20 years.

I am embarrassed to say that I personally have over 2,000 LinkedIn contacts and about 500 Facebook friends... but only 200-300 of whom I actually might personally know...

And for those I do know personally, many of them I wouldn’t actually recognize, even if they were sitting right in front of me, due to the extended period of time since we’ve last seen each other.

These are people I grew up with... people I went to school with... people from organizations I used to belong to... and people I used to work with...

I have to admit that sometimes it’s nice to catch up with an old friend or acquaintance... at one time our lives intersected and made a mark or impression but over time, we have lost touch, and social media was the means for reconnecting.

At first I was quite selective as to whom I would add as contacts or friends... but over time... I will now pretty much accept anyone who asks... this is how I came to have so many people whom I am digitally connected to.

Networking is all about meeting and connecting with people... including a variety of people you don’t actually know personally... but who have a direct connection to someone you do know...

At least this is how networking should work...

With the advent of social media... it’s now quite possible to "connect" with literally millions of people with just a few clicks of a mouse...

The problem is that none of these people actually take the time to really get to know one another... it’s just a numbers game.

What good would it be for me to have President Obama, Bill Gates or Oprah as LinkedIn contacts if I really have no way to really personally connect with them?

I want people in my network that I actually know and trust... people who will take my phone calls... people who make time to see me from time to time... people who continue to create shared experiences with me...

These are the kind of relationships that I want in my life...

Real networking comes from putting the effort into forging relationships a long time before you actually need to ask for that favor.  Most importantly, it means that you are doing things for other people first.

But when do most people look to establish or expand their network... when they are job-searching?... when their kids can’t get into the college of their choice?... when there is a personal crisis in their lives?

Looking to establish a personal network only when you need something is short-sighted and somewhat selfish...

Now we all live busy lives... we barely have enough time for our own families... our work obligations... and our own hobbies and interests... sometimes there is simply not enough time to create or re-establish relationships...

There are a lot of networking books out in the market... but none better than Keith Ferrazzi’s classic book Never Eat Alone.

In his book, he explains that there are several different methods of reaching out to people you know, want to know, or want to know better.

One easy method is found in the title of his book... never eat alone.

Everyone needs to eat and sharing a meal is a great way to reach out to people... be it an early breakfast... a casual lunch... or an informal dinner party bringing several interesting people together to share in a rich experience...

Last week I wrote about New Year’s resolutions and goal setting... so one of my primary resolutions this year is to reconnect with as many old friends as possible.  Not because I want something... but because I simply want good friends back in my life whenever possible...

So don’t be surprised if you get a call from me asking you to lunch or an invitation to my next dinner party...

And if you happen to find yourself in San Diego... please don’t feel bashful about contacting me... I’d love the opportunity to meet... break bread... or have a drink... while we look for commonality...

Building a strong successful network is about adding one good friend at a time... and putting more into the network than you’re taking away...

Networking is more about farming than hunting...

It’s about people, connection and working toward a common goal...

...and like most things in life... you only get after you give..

Thank you for your support of OptiFuse where we want to know what we can do for you... not the other way around.



Jim Kalb
President

Email -  jimk@optifuse.com
Website - www.optifuse.com
Blog - www.optifuse.blogspot.com 

Twitter - @OptiFuse

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