VOLUME TWO, ISSUE 12

3 Human Elements 

Two weeks ago, I was at a conference in Kansas City, Missouri, attended by politically active women from several Midwestern states. The conference focused on how to get more women elected to office at the local, state and national levels. A timely topic to be sure, given this last election - 3 seats in Congress previously held by women will be filled by men come this January and many more women lost state and local elections. And even though women make up 51% of registered voters, there's no evidence that women voters favor women candidates, regardless of party affiliation. In other words, we're not going to elect more women strictly through numbers. (I'd love to get into a discussion here on why it's a good thing to have women lead and how having women in leadership roles helps organizations boost their bottom lines...but we'll save that for another time.)


I don't think it will shock anyone to "discover" that in order to run a viable campaign, a candidate needs money...lots of it. Contrary to what you might think, though, it's not how deep a candidate's personal pockets are that can make a difference - it's how deep her network. (Someone should have told that to Meg Whitman who spent at least $140 million of her own money and lost.)


Our keynote speaker was a state representative who just won reelection to her 4th term, running as a Democrat in a heavily Republican district. She was surprised when she was first asked to run - not only was she a busy single mom...but she had no money. It turns out that having no money was no problem because she had something more valuable - connections. In almost 30 years as an educator, she got to know thousands of parents. She kept in touch with many of her students. And she volunteered in her community which gave people an opportunity to get to know her. When it was time to raise money, people donated not to a candidate, but to a person whom they knew and trusted. And they used their connections to raise money on her behalf, again because they knew and trusted her.


Most of us aren't going to run for public office. But there will come a time when we'll need support for a new idea, the inside track on a promotion, the "skinny" on a new job or a solid sounding board to help us solve a problem. This is when we'll need help, advocacy and encouragement. This is when we'll uncover the true depth of our networking pockets.


Have you checked your pockets lately?


Jennie Ayers
Senior Partner, Challenge It Now  
In This Issue
Holiday Networking: Two Steps for Success
Be a Connector
BoldWork is Coming!
Join Our Mailing List!
Quick Links
collaboration cubes
A Holiday Log Fit for Eating!
The custom of burning the Yule log goes back to the Vikings. The original Yule log was an entire tree, carefully chosen and brought into the house with great fanfare. The largest end of the log was placed into the fire hearth, while the rest of the tree stuck out into the room. (No wonder it never caught on in the U.S.) The log was lit from remains of the previous year's log, which had been carefully stowed away and slowly fed into the fire throughout the Twelve Days of Christmas. The custom of the Yule spread across Europe and countries personalized it. In Holland, the log had to be stored under a bed. In the U.K., the bark was removed before burning. And leave it to the French to sprinkle their logs with wine so that it smelled delicious as it was burning. After the log burned, its ashes were often saved to feed plants. (This ash was sometimes referred to as "potash".)

Even if you don't have a fireplace, you can still observe the tradition of the Yule log in a much tastier way - indulge in a buche de Noel, a delightful chocolate sponge roll layered with cream. Yum.
buche de noel

Enjoy your own buche de Noel.

Have a safe & happy holiday!

"Reframe Holiday Networking Events: Two Steps for Success" by Rebecca Ripley

(460 words- estimated reading time: less than 3 minutes)


Here's a sacred squirrel worth slaying - just in time for those holiday parties. Contrary to popular belief, networking is not about collecting as many business cards as you can while racing around a calamitous ballroom or someone's decked-out home. Toss that belief right out the window. Networking is about making connections.


Devora Zach, author of Networking for People Who Hate Networking (Berrett-Koehler, 2010), offers life-saving tips and strategies for anyone who doesn't get jazzed about networking events. She says, "Networking is the art of building and maintaining connections for shared positive outcomes. Real networking is connecting. The more authentic you are, the more resilient and valuable networks you create. Learn networking techniques that rely on being true to yourself, using strengths you already have. Work with, rather than fight against, your lovable introverted, overwhelmed and/or under-connected self."


If you dread holiday parties because you believe you are supposed to network non-stop, you will benefit from these two proven and practical suggestions.  


penguin taking a picture
Put the focus on others.

1.      Change your "direction of thinking" about networking. It's not about YOU - it's all about OTHER PEOPLE.  When you go to a party or networking event, don't think in terms of, "What will I say about me?" or "How will I present myself?"  Instead, program your thinking to go in a different direction. Ask, "When I meet new people, what will I learn about THEM"? Cultivate a networking goal of learning new information about other people - this works even when you're reconnecting with someone you've met previously. This is the Magic Key: take the spotlight off you and shine it on others. Networking is fun and enjoyable when it's about discovery, about exploring the passionate interests of others. Building strong, enduring relationships will follow naturally through finding new common ground.


2.      Use your natural strengths. If you have an introverted or even "centroverted" preference in the way you engage with others, plan ahead for the event. You likely strive for, and crave, depth in relationships and experience. You'll network best by focusing on a few individuals. Set a goal to meet one or two people and engage them in conversation. If asked, most people like to talk about themselves, so if you come armed ahead of time with a few great questions, you'll engage people in a way that provides meaning and depth. 


And pace yourself.  Through focusing genuine attention on others and relying on your natural strengths, you'll create meaningful, real connections. When you begin to tire, retreat. Find a quiet place to recharge. Then re-enter the bustling room and begin anew. Before you know it, you will have met your goal and can leave the event feeling good about your success.  You will have expanded your net in a way that worked for you. Happy Holidays!


"One Connector Who Dazzles" by Janice Criddle
(598 words - estimated reading time: less than 3 minutes)

Although the emphasis in this month's e-Musings is on networking during holiday events, we have to stay sharp all year long and take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way to build and deepen relationships. In an ongoing effort to improve my own networking skills, I pay attention to how others network with me. I've found that people fall into 3 categories: Meeters, Greeters and Connectors.


Meeters are people you run into at an event where it's appropriate to exchange business cards for any number of reasons. They make a point of getting your card, which they slip into a pocket...and then you never hear from them again. Maybe they didn't feel the need to follow-up; more likely, they're not skilled in networking follow through.


Greeters are people who get your business card and follow-up with e-mail or phone calls, providing you with information regarding their business or services.  Generally, Greeters are pretty good about making a point of "touching" you every couple of months as a way of keeping their name or business on your radar.


Connectors are people who find a way to actually create a relationship with you.  Connectors are more successful at building meaningful networking relationships - what they do warrants our attention.

"The richest people in the world
look for and build networks.
Everyone else looks for work." Robert T. Kiyosaki

I know a Connector. She is the CEO of College Bound, a non-profit that, over the years, has been able to get just about anything they want from me.  After examining her networking skills, I decided I want to be just like her when I grow up. 

people connecting
Connect with others.


Here's what she does: 

  • She dazzles you with her charm and professional expertise. She's very good at what she does and she is just plain likeable. You want to know her.
  •  She makes sure your needs are met. Since she truly cares about her clients, she goes out of her way to make sure you get what you need from the program...or she does a favor for a friend of yours...or she connects you with one of her get the picture.
  • She knows what she wants. She is exceptionally skilled at assessing how you can contribute to the needs of her organization. When she asks for something, it's specific, relevant and within your capabilities - and that makes it hard to say no. 
  • She makes it personal. I don't just hear from her when she needs something. When my family hit some financial hard times a few years ago, she offered concrete help (that year our children's participation in the program was "sponsored"), I get calls checking on my children's progress (even though they are no longer in the program) and the list goes on.

As I thought about her abilities, I realized that this was all sounding very familiar. Then it hit me - what she does are some of the very same things recommended by Jeffrey Gitomer in his book, The Little Black Book of Connections. As Gitomer says, "Your mother taught you everything you need to know about connecting before your were 10 years old: make friends, play nice, tell the truth, take a bath, do your homework."


I'm re-reading Gitomer's book. It's one of the most practical guides to networking I've come across. He very clearly explains how to make and maintain connections.  As I'm reading, I see College Bound's CEO and I confirm my commitment to work on changing my "networking image" - how others perceive me. Networking in and of itself is just an exercise. The real value is in building relationships that are mutually beneficial and rewarding. 

Check your own networking skills. Are you a Connector?


"Out with the Old" 

Say goodbye to "Challenge It Now" and our big orange ball logo. It has served us well, but we're embarking on a different journey. Starting next month, look for our new BoldWork brand. We're excited about it and we love it!


We hope you will as well.  

3 Human Elements
Challenge It Now focuses its energies on a common goal - through consultation, coaching and facilitation, we help professionals in business organizations create and sustain a workplace climate where the positive experience of work is optimized, engagement is enriched and performance potential is maximized.
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