More thoughts on networking

Figured it was time to give another update on my voyage of discovery as it relates to networking.

Some time ago, Amy arranged an opportunity to meet Jason Seiden during his stop over  through SFO.    Being the hanger-on that I am I asked her if I could meet him too.  As the logistics unfolded, it worked out that I would meet him for drinks and Amy would meet him for dinner.

When Jason arrived early, he sent me a message saying that he would meet me in the bar where he’d be making friends.  When I got there, that was exactly what he was doing!

There Jason was, chatting it up with some random guy, as if they were long lost buddies.  I made a comment that the whole ice breaking thing was very hard for me, and I couldn’t imagine doing that myself.

His reply really stuck with me.  He said “I used to have trouble with it, until I realized I was just being an A**hole“.

To this I responded [with what I considered a witty retort]  “I don’t think I’m an A**hole…. but maybe I’m wrong.”

and then the conversation moved on

As I have done more thinking about this, I realize there is a lot of truth to the idea that to effectively network you have to get over yourself. Making it the responsibility of the other person to break the ice is inherently arrogant.

This led me to the belief that, we need to get over our idea that we are center of the universe to make progress professionally.

Networking just happens to be one example.

What we are feeling inside is that we are not important or interesting enough to step outside our comfort zone and connect with others.


what we are really doing is suggesting that we are too important to bother taking the risk.

Having an honest intention, is really not the point.  The results are what matter and in this case, my results were a raft of missed opportunities.

Scary, powerful and actionable.

I am doing my best to learn that, moving forward professionally requires taking risks and challenging my perspective.    While I would not call myself an expert by any stretch, I can honestly say I’m making progress.

I no longer listen to that voice inside that tells me I have nothing of interest to say.  Instead, I listen to Jason’s voice in my head, that says quit being an A**hole Meg!

If nothing else it makes me smile, and since that is another goal I figure I’m ahead.

Some thoughts on blogging

I was recently asked about blogging and   I decided to blog about it.

My first observation is that if you are even asking about the topic of blogging, you should be blogging.


I can say with certainty, that you will learn a lot as a result of blogging, and this learning is something I wish for you.

I am not going to suggest it’s easy.  In fact, it’s a big leap of faith.  It is also  powerful and rewarding.

So, how to start?

First read these

Once you are convinced you are ready to take the plunge, I recommend you focus on the following:

  • Get your online profile in order.  Update your LinkedIn summary to make you seem human.  Write a decent About page that gives people a sense of you and your blog.  Use a consistent photo online that looks like you.  People like to read blogs from real people.  Making sure that you attract readers that connect with you is more important than getting a lot of readers who are just random.  Giving them a sense of who you are and why you are blogging helps make this connection.
  • You have to give to get.  Start reading other Bloggers work and commenting.  Comments are very important.  They help make a blog a conversation.  Don’t just say “great blog”,  add feedback that enriches their conversation.  This is not just important in the general karmic sense, it helps you become a better blogger yourself.
  • Write first, advertise second. Make sure you have at least 4-6 blog posts written before you start looking to get readers.  You want to make sure that when people do find you that they come back.
  • Don’t be needy about readers, just focus on what you are trying to say.  Getting readers takes time.  Lots of time.  You will find yourself amazed that readers will find your content long after you have forgotten you wrote it.
  • Set a realistic goal for on blog frequency and stick to it.  I recommend you push yourself to blog at least once a week for the first few months.  After that you can tune your frequency to your readership.
  • Get support – consider a group blog to help enrich the conversation and take the pressure off.  Get people on your team to read your posts, recommend you to their friends and to help encourage you on to success.
  • Give yourself a break – Interestingly, after two years of blogging the most consistent feedback I hear from my blogger friends, is that they have a hard time posting due to concern about how others will view the work.   My advice for this is to not take yourself so seriously.  The reality is that not many people will be reading initially, so it really doesn’t matter.  The purpose of blogging is to start a conversation, not set yourself up on a pedestal.  If you are worried about what others think you are missing the point entirely [and you are forgetting my advice about being needy].

A few more tips from Mark

  • Authenticity and passion are key and you can’t really have one without the other. In other words, blog about what truly gets you excited and energized; don’t try to blog on something just because you think you “should” or that it’s “smart.”
  • Be abundantly welcoming to readers’ input.  If you can make readers feel comfortable about asking questions or adding their contribution, they will build a long term relationship with your blog and likely refer others.

And lastly

Let us know you’ve started.  We love to learn of new blogs and Bloggers and are anxious to be on your team.

Passionate employees

Our own Amy Wilson writes an interesting comment to Mark’s post and I think we should investigate this more.

For those keeping score at home, yes I am writing a post, about Amy’s comment to Mark’s post.

People wonder how I write so many blogs, and all I can say is it’s a gift.

Amy Wilson said

May 16, 2010 at 11:45 pm I was really intrigued by “the John’s” assertion that employee satisfaction is a useless metric – that what you really want is passion. This got me thinking about how passion compares with engagement. It seems that passionate employees are a subset of engaged and actively disengaged employees … and that engagement is a circular continuum rather than a linear one (much like politics) – that there is a fine line between the most actively engaged employees and the most actively disengaged ones. The question is: are you harnessing your passion for good or evil in your company?

In fact, the point that struck me on this topic was the comment made that the most passionate people are often not the happiest.

Their passion can often lead to dissatisfaction when they see progress stalling.  I know that to be true in my own past experiences.  If I do not channel my passion constructively, it can eat away at me in a very destructive way.

Notice my choice of words here

I have to be accountable and mindful of  my passionate personality.

I need to make sure that I put that passion to good use.

The same is true for those of us who have the benefit of leading passionate people, it becomes our job to put that passion to work for the benefit of the company.  If we don’t, it’s not only an engagement problem, it can become a morale killer for the entire team.

With great gifts comes great responsibility. 

Finding and focusing your passion is the key to unlocking your own greatness, or the source of your own downfall.

You decide.

What was the middle thing?

I also really enjoyed the Churchill Club event on the Power of Pull.  In addition to Mark’s remarks about passion, I found myself really taken by a comment made near the end.

The comment was about the idea that companies spend their energy attempting to attract-develop-retain talent.

In fact, that is typically how a Talent Management lifecycle is described.

When you look at what companies say vs. what they actually do, you quickly notice that more energy is spent on attracting and retention of talent vs. development and in some sense this is a bit bass-ackward.

If, however,  you focus more energy on developing people, the rest will get a lot easier.

If you are a manager this is even more applicable to your situation.  When you focus your efforts on developing your team to be more effective and better able to leverage their own strengths, yours will be a team that others want to join.

I would also note, that a great way to help your own team develop is to lead by example.

Yes, I said it — if you are working to grow your own abilities and impact for the company, you are helping your team follow your lead, and thus supporting your company’s Talent initiatives.

Good, huh?  This is why I make the big bucks.

What I believe

Just when I think I’ve seen the best TEDTalk I get a new favorite.  This one really worked for me, even with the jab at my favorite technology .

Seriously, quit reading this blog and go watch this TEDTalk.

It matters.

The law of diffusion of information is where we live and understanding why we invest our time in the cause of Talent Management vs. other pursuits is not about convenience or accident.  It is about what inspires and motivates us.

I believe that work is changing

I believe that business is changing

I believe making work better is a valuable goal.

I believe that recognizing the humanity and the potential of our workforce is a worthwhile purpose and I believe companies who get this right will have better business results.

This is what I believe.

What do you believe and what is in that for me?

That wont work here, because we only employ stupid people

Recently I have begun to notice how many HR Policies have as their core assumption that people are stupid and must be given a very short leash or they will will do harm.

I can’t help but have the reaction that this is a very bad reflection on the HR process and is probably bad to believe in general.

The thing about assumptions like this, be it in a social media policy, or a benefits process, or a talent strategy, is that they have a way of proving true.

I would like to call this Meg’s second law (remember I have already put down another law) — please let me know if I accidentally lifted this from someone else and I’ll happy attribute.

When you assume your workforce is stupid they will learn to prove you right.

HR Department, please remember that you put yourself at the center of acquiring, developing and retaining talent.  So if your workforce is dumb you might need to look in the mirror and find out why.

When you find yourselves wanting to build policy that has, at its core, a distrust of the mental capacity of your workforce, I would like for you to consider a different assumption instead.

How about you start with the assumption that you employ smart people who are just in need of access to the bigger picture, the organizational goals, and the core values of your company, and then maybe give them some space to do great things.

If this is not going to happen where you work, I suggest you might want to consider moving to an organization that employs smart people, or you might have your own reputation tarnished in the process.

Seriously, if you only have stupid people working at your company, you need a better place to practise your HR craft, because those people are going to take you down with them,


if you are creating stupid people as a result of your policies you might want to quit doing that.