Thursday, September 20, 2012

NETWORKING: It's Not Always in the Cards



Hand Shakes Beat "Card Handing"

This week I spent time in Vidalia, GA on the Symetra Tour – the LPGA’s developmental circuit.  I love the opportunity to chat with the future stars of the game, or anyone working their way up the career ladder with hopes of making a difference.  The chance to share ideas, and help provide insight that might jump start them with confidence. 

Along the way, there’s nothing like the feeling of that first business card.  The one from your first employer.  Or the one YOU create for yourself.  The one that makes you feel important, valued and professional.  (One up-n-comer handed me a card which I liked).

Mine was in Columbus, GA….a News Director by the name of Dick Byrd hired me on at the ABC affiliate there as a videographer and reporter.  I took the job because of what it offered.  Not just a paycheck – which we all need out of school.  But the chance to do news AND sports and a whole lot of other things.

I remember getting the business card.  And I remember the energy with which I passed them out at each story location.  I also collected a few dozen a month.  And I continued doing so at my next job and my next job.

I’ve got a drawer full of business cards from the career climb.  So many…  that I really can’t keep tabs on all those I’ve run into along the way.  It’s tough to keep track and assess value.  Those who’ve really become my friends are in my phone, but I still have the boxes of cards – fun to look back on from time to time.

My advice?  Don’t do it. 

* If the impression is good enough… transfer the data into your phone or the computer file.

* What to do with a box full of cards?  Rolodex is a thing of the past anyway.  People use their computer or even social/business media tools like Linkedin to connect with those you’ll have a professional or personal relationship with.

I told a group of students recently that while the most important thing they can do is to start to “network” or “connect” (ah… like yesterday)…. the climb to your first job or your next job shouldn’t be about the cards you keep… but the relationships you build from those who hand you the cards in the first place.  And if you do the card handing…. be sure it’s somebody you can help… not always somebody you think can help you.

To me, life isn’t about amassing connections.  It’s about building relationships.  And it’s not good practice (in my mind) to meet someone thinking about “what they can do for you.”  Instead, college grads and all of us for that matter should be thinking about what value we can provide for them.  

If you go around collecting cards… soon enough you’ll have cards that don’t go with faces that don’t go with friendships that don’t go with business.

Take a minute at the end of a business function or gathering of folks … and jot a note down on the back of the card to remember who it was who made the impression on you in the first place.  Then, if it’s worthy… add it to your file,

Let’s face it, not everybody’s for everybody.  You won’t truly “connect” with everyone you meet.  So my advice is to pass out cards wisely – to those you need to help or those you’d like to help.  And don’t ask for a card in return – unless you really see the relationship going somewhere.

Imagine this…. remember the game “52 pick-up?”  If you tossed your last 52 cards received into the air… and then picked them up – one by one -… could you put the name, business and title with the face? 

If you can’t… you’ve proven the point and answered the question “how many cards are too many to keep.”

I’d suggest that offering the relationship first is far more important than offering up a business card. It’s something we talk about in the business of sports and on our tours as we work to build our brand and our partnerships.  So if you're reaching for the sky... try reaching for the hand, and not the pocket or wallet.

Success is about the opportunities you create by collecting relationships…. not cards. Do you agree?  As always, thanks for following and sharing in this blog.


Line of the Day: Success is based on opportunities.  Making them happen should be what drives you.  And once you get them, over-deliver.

Follow me on Twitter  @KraigKann