Recently I had a networking attempt backfire on me miserably.  How could this happen?  I reach out to new people every single day, either by phone or in person and this rarely happens.  But this incident left a lasting impression and it was my fault, although I didn’t think so at the time.

Having recently accepted a new position in a field I never heard of a month ago, with a high risk compensation structure (all commission), I’ve been anxious to validate the choice I’ve made.  In my haste to be comfortable, I called an acquaintance that I’ve not spoken to in nearly 20 years.  A mutual friend told me that she was in this same industry I’ve just joined and I was hoping if I visited with someone else in this field, I would ultimately feel more secure about my decision.

So I called this person out of the blue and told her that I’ve accepted a position doing lead generation and would like to meet with her to pick her brain since she and I are now in the same industry.  What she heard was “Hi, I’m your new competitor, let’s meet so you can tell me your business secrets.”

I was quite horrified to be so misjudged and rushed to assure her I would never expect any such thing as revelation of her business secrets.  Rather, I was brand new to the field and simply wanted to validate my choice by learning that the market was healthy for this industry and the like.  Even though I’d just offended her, I felt offended because my motives were so misunderstood.

Just imagine if I’d approached her differently.  If I’d said I’ve just become a lead generator and had heard that she had already achieved quite a successful practice in the field, building her business from the ground up and I would appreciate a few minutes to hear her insight on the potential for the industry, while discussing nothing specific to her unique business practices.  Different outcome most likely.

Remember as you network, always seek to provide value first.  That value might be to make someone else feel important, successful, validated, an expert in their field or something similar.    It will help your agenda and will save you from unpleasant BFO’s…Blinding Flash of the Obvious.


NETWORKING…yes again…

“One connection will breed another if, in fact, you can help the person that you have connected with in some way. Help them and they will be inclined (if not compelled) to help you.”  Jeffrey Gittomer

This is the critical element in successful networking.  If you attend career networking groups, you already know that the unwritten rule is you seek to obtain leads/contacts and you are obligated to also provide leads/contacts.  This is why regular attendance is not only encouraged, but it’s bad form to not maintain. 

This is also why, once you land a job, you don’t just disappear.  Rather, you return for a final visit, usually with a dozen donuts, and share with the group the steps that led you to your landing.  And, ideally, you then act as conduit to additional job leads within your new organization.

The experienced networkers are easy to separate from the pack.  They will always ask, “What can I do for you.”

Networking can permutate into connections far beyond where you may have intended.  I met someone last week, seeking to cull contacts from him in my newest target sector.  When he found out that I’ve started a part time job doing lead generation, he suddenly perked up and said that he’d been seeking a provider of this service.  Not only did I bring him a solution I didn’t realize I had, he furthered my value to my new boss by suddenly becoming a new business lead.

Last week I had the pleasure of attending an intimate networking group of entrepreneurs.  The beauty of this group is that it acts as an outsourced sales and marketing staff for each of its members.  For a reasonable membership fee, far less than the cost of adding a salesperson, every meeting these members have the chance to give a brief presentation of their business goals and communicate their ideal target market.  Immediately following that presentation, members volunteer those in their personal and professional networks that would be worthy prospects.  Bingo, fresh crop of leads to cultivate.

Additionally, there’s nothing that beats the feeling of doing a good deed for someone else.  Try it today.


Human thoughts have the ability to transform themselves into their physical equivalents.  Napoleon Hill said this many years ago, but it still holds true today and is worth repeating.

Human thoughts have the ability to transform themselves into their physical equivalents. 

Most people know the story of the little engine that could.  Is this how people run marathons?  I personally have to work very hard to complete a mile, yet I have a colleague that ran 50…50 miles in a foot race.  Ponder this, running for perhaps 14 hours, temperature variance of 20 degrees from start to peak, and altitude variance of over 15,000 feet…what was he thinking?  Perhaps that he COULD and so he DID.

Is this how that lady lifted a car that had rolled over her husband and she knew it was the only way to save him?

These are tough times for job seekers.  Proactively seek positive food for your spirit.  Read for inspiration.  Zig Ziglar’s Life Lifters is a great start.  Surround yourself with those that encourage you.  Sometimes this might not be your immediate family, especially if you are trying to break out of previously established long-term patterns.   Get frequent physical exercise.  It is empowering to control what you can control.

Put yourself among people as frequently as possible.  Seek to help others.  This is a quick pill to feeling good about yourself and you never know who you might meet or what you might learn from doing this.

Try new things.  Open your heart and your mind to doing things differently than how you’ve done them in the past.  This includes opening yourself to the ideas of others.  How many people do you know that now work for themselves or found a non-traditional way to make a living?  I know many and they aren’t all brilliant, but they probably are highly risk tolerant.

Make each effort one that gives you a sense of pride.

What does it take to be a #1 salesperson?

After just completing Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Red Book of Selling, I wanted to share what I found to be most valuable reading.  It ends with a list of the top ten qualities of a very successful salesperson, in her opinion.  Here are my favorites from that list:

Have a contagious positive attitude.  Whatever attitude you have will be contagious, so make sure it is a positive one.

Be excited about the prospect of helping others.  No one wants to be sold, but everyone likes to buy.  Work to see what’s in it for them and the rest should flow more easily.

Be self-assured, but not arrogant.  No one wants to know about your new BMW, your trip to the Riviera or your country club membership.  I’d rather be puked on…at least that’s an accident.  But confidence…that’s always welcome.

I like people and they like me.  People buy from those that they like.  If they don’t like you, they will choose your competitor.  This never fails.  The buyer can always justify their choice.

Don’t just be book smart.  Would you rather be professional or humorous?  Which do you think sells more?  Which makes better friendships?

Have unspoken integrity and be visibly honest.  This is my definition of authenticity.  If you don’t have it, your customers will see right through you…and you won’t sell them on anything unless you are the cheapest.  What will that do for you?

Get the details right, but always stay focused on the big picture.  Don’t get bogged down in the details.

Channel your inner kid and be able to see things through that kid’s perspective.  Kids are full of wonder and possibility.  This tends to lessen with time and experience.  Work against this natural tendency.  Read, exercise, study, practice, write, speak, surround yourself with people that are vested in your success.


A man’s mental attitude in respect to defeat is the factor of major importance in determining whether he rides with the tides of fortune on the success side of the River of Life or is swept to the failure side by circumstances of misfortune. Source: Napoleon Hill

What does this mean?  More tritely stated, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.  

If you are unemployed and are spending your time visiting career networking groups to any degree, chances are you keep hearing about the importance of maintaining a positive attitude.  Sometimes, under the guise of good intentions, just by seeing you at a career networking function, people will volunteer advice telling you to “keep your chin up” or “work on your attitude”.  Truth be told, I’ve gone to some networking functions in a great positive mindset only to be set off track by someone assumming I need a kick in the pants.  Thanks, but I’ve got that department well under control.

Today I was sharing, with a colleague, concern I have about reducing exposure to a friend of mine that has been giving me steady doses of discouragement about my job search.  Too much activity, undirected activity and not enough down time are various unsolicited advice tidbits I’ve received from this self-described friend.   Hearing these false assumptions makes me all the more clear minded that I am doing exactly what I need to be doing to find success and fulfillment in my career future.  But the frustration of selling my methods to this disbeliever makes me question the time invested to do so.

The colleague, a professional life coach, told me that I should be grateful to this friend because she was challenging my beliefs.   Making me question my methods and clearly defining that I am on the right track is among the most useful ways I can be spending my time right now.

If you are in transition and unsure of your next step, whether it is what to do tomorrow or what industry to pursue for a career, take some quiet time each day.  Read whatever stimulates you to think about what matters to you.  Spend time daily looking within yourself for what you need to do next.  There will be plenty of outside factors, human or otherwise, to steer you here or there.  Don’t delegate this important responsibilty to anyone but yourself.  Take charge of your destiny.

No career decision is final, but make a decision or you won’t make progress.  If that decision turns out not to work for you the way you intended, make another informed decision.   You’ll be getting closer to what works best for you by eliminating what doesn’t work at all.