This month's guest blog comes from my friend (and editor of my book), Leslie Morris. I know you will like what she has to say:
by Leslie Morris
I met Thom 19 years ago. I’d like to tell you that my husband and I are some of Thom’s oldest and dearest friends but let’s not kid ourselves – this guy still has close friends from grade school! I would, however, tell you that we got moved up to dearest the summer my cousin Hal cut open Thom’s daughter Kate’s head (Hal is the surgeon who operated on Kate when she was six months old). Public note to Thom: you should write a blog post about how your network supported you during Kate's surgery!
Those of you who have read Some Assembly Required know me as Thom’s editor, his taskmaster. I have to tell you, I had a lot of respect for Thom before we collaborated on his book. After the fact, I had even more respect for him. Couple that with professional admiration and that his wife is the sweetest thing you’ve ever met and you get the picture.
For the last seven years I have made my living as a marketing consultant. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and love, love, love what I do. I love solving my clients’ problems. I love doing only what falls in the sweet spot of my expertise. Every last piece of my business comes from networking.
Right now I am the interim director of marketing at a software company in Dulles, Virginia. And we were fortunate enough to have Thom speak at our worldwide sales and marketing kickoff last week. Thom is a dynamic speaker.
Thanking me for bringing Thom in, one of my peers said, “I got a lot from Thom’s talk. He offers tips you can really use and is also approachable, a real person. He talks about things we can all relate to: Starbucks, kids’ activities, volunteering, church.” Like a proud parent I beamed then hurried back to my laptop to pass this feedback along to Thom.
Seeing Thom in action made me even more excited about his next book: Some Assembly Required for Lawyers. And on my flight home that week I started working on the outline. If you have ideas for us, by all means speak up! My contact information is below.
Here’s my two cents on networking. You don’t have to be outgoing to be a strong networker! I’m an introvert. I read. I knit. I run. Solitary activities, all. But apparently this doesn’t matter because I make the most of the time I am out and about. I chat with people in line with me at the airport, with other parents at preschool pick up and drop off, with other consultants. I belong to a few online discussion groups. I have a formal Peer Group. I freely give of myself because in the end it does all come back. My current gig came through Rebel Brown, a former co-worker and now a consultant that I have never collaborated with before but one whom I have long held in high professional regard.
One of my favorite things to do is to meet with consultants just starting out. I consider it payback for all the folks who helped me way back when. Their first question is always the same: "How do I get clients?" I tell them all the same thing, “It’s payback for all the nice things you did for people over the last 10 years.” It’s all those years of delivering on your promises, professionally and personally. It’s being thoughtful and asking how someone’s ailing mother is. It’s getting together for coffee to brainstorm on a new business idea a colleague has. It’s recommending a book.
My friend Jen and I had a conversation last night (both on our cells while transitioning between work and retrieving kids – Modern Mommyhood at its best) about breaking glass. Breaking glass isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes when you enact change you have to break a little glass. Why was this conversation important? It’s part of networking. It’s because we’re both consultants. We have very different areas of expertise but we know that talking through these issues with other consultants is critical to our professional growth and to the continued level of service we provide our clients.
Finally, I firmly believe that everyone is motivated by either chocolate or wine. I make it a point to ask new clients which it is. They laugh but then I know how to spur on action from them. Works every time.
So, are you a chocolate person or a wine person?
Have a great week.
Leslie Morris lives in Danville, California, with her husband and three daughters. She can be emailed at email@example.com.
Thank you to Leslie for being the first "Monthly Guest Blogger" of 2006 (I know, we missed January). Anyone who is a reader interested in being a guest blooger is encouraged to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.