Take Advantage Of A Networking Fail

Smiling friendly business man. Isolated over white.“Sir, may I relate a story for your consideration, because frankly it baffles me,” I said, taking the initiative to start this latest conversation between me and The Effective Detective.

“Of course, Watson, relate away,” he returned, smiling in an actually friendly way, versus the smile I associated with the hammer coming down on a point he was making.

“I attended a meeting of a group, and the purpose of this meeting was actually recruitment for the group. There were a goodly number of visitors, which made it a worthwhile function in terms of meeting new people, but I was a little shocked by one thing,” I paused for a second, and The Detective jumped in.

“I think I know where this is going, but I’ll be cautious,” The Detective’s smile grew bigger, “so please carry on Watson,”

“None of the members or leaders of this group went out of their way to welcome any of the guests, or engage them! They were nice enough if you yourself stepped up and introduced yourself, but many of them seemed more intent on engaging other members than the guests. This struck me as odd, since the whole purpose of the meeting was to recruit new members, wouldn’t it make sense to engage as many of the guests as possible?” I ended with the question, hoping The Detective would again, jump in.

Obliging me, The Detective took a breath and started to answer, “It would make sense Watson, and it would have helped their cause immensely, but unfortunately you are dealing with humans, and this kind of thing happens all too often. Especially when you have a group hosting guests. The members of the group are of course uncomfortable meeting new people, as are most of the guests, but they have an advantage over their guests. They already know a large percentage of the group. The natural social tendency is to associate with those you know. The guests have no choice, they have volunteered to step into a group where they may not know too many people, so they either retreat to a wall somewhere, or they bravely extend their hand and start engaging.”

“But sir, if the purpose is to build membership…” I floundered a bit, not sure I had made my point.

“Yes, yes Watson, you are absolutely correct. However, assuming this is a volunteer organization, no one is going to ‘lose their job’ for not being forward,” The Detective helpfully answered my partial question. “However, it is hard to go against human nature. The guests are outsiders, I’m sure if they join the organization they will be brought into the fold, but at a meeting like you describe, they are on their turf and want to be comfortable.”

“But sir,” I answered, a thought forming, “wouldn’t the people who went out of their comfort zone and introduced themselves to the guests be way ahead of the game? They would be perceived as the leaders in the group. In terms of business they would be the ones starting strong know, like, and trust relationships whether the person they engaged joined or not.”

“Watson, I see our discussions are having a beneficial effect on you. That was a brilliant observation! Keep that in mind next time a group you are a part of has a recruitment meeting,” The Detective exclaimed. “Shall we continue on with other issues?”

“Lets!” I agreed.


Woman relaxes in a marble tiled bath tub.“Sir,” I started out, taking the initiative in our current discussion. “I must admit to some confusion regarding the concept of favoritism.”

“Confound it Watson, you are slipping! I require a more specific query,” The Effective Detective answered with an annoyed tone to his voice.

“Sorry sir. In particular I am thinking about how companies tend to favor those who spend more with them, or invest in particular programs, versus doing the same with individuals in a work environment or perhaps even friends, a practice that is often frowned upon. My confusion is if one is right how can the other be wrong?” I clarified.

“Much better Watson, a much more specific and answerable question,” The Detective gave a slight smile. “As to your answer, I believe your confusion while understandable is misplaced. You are comparing apples to oranges. Favoritism as you put, in a personal setting is something I have no desire to address, and I leave that discussion to philosophers. Business on the other hand, both with customers and employees or contractors is a much simpler matter to deal with, since the concept of fairness is rather black and white,” The Detective took his characteristic pause allowing for an interjection or question from me.

“Why wouldn’t fairness enter into the equation in business matters, sir?” I asked

“It does, but not in the classic moral sense. You are being fair in business when you are being honest and not cheating someone. This has nothing to do about seeing different employees or customers as equal in value to each other. Customers are providing you revenue. The more revenue they bring in – without causing you undue stress or cost, the better you should treat them. They have earned it, and most likely they will respond in kind. Employees are providing you a service. If they go above and beyond they should be given special treatment as well. These are business transactions, not social interactions,” The Detective to take a breath, allowing me to get a word in edgewise.

“So you are saying that favoritism in the business environment both with customers and employees is a good thing, and in fact should be promoted?” I asked.

“I thought I just said that,” snapped The Detective with more than a trace of irritation. “Remember though, you still must treat all of your customers and employees fairly and honestly. Having favorites does not mean giving someone who gives you less money inferior service, or denying an employee something just because they happen to have a lower level job. Service and respect are given freely to all.  Perks are given to those who contribute something extra to your success, and although the perks can vary in value, they should be freely given at all levels of contribution.

“Something I wish the cell phone companies would learn,” The Detective finished, throwing his latest bill on the floor, closing our conversation.

The Mystery of The Incomplete Explanation Part 2

“Where were we Watson,” started The Detective.

“I believe you were just going to start a further explanation of point two from a previous discussion, sir. Lost Customers to be precise.” I quickly replied.

“Quite Right. Actually, this one in a way, is self-explanatory. It astounds that more business people don’t see it.

“You see Watson, in the haste to get new customers, because everyone knows they are the life-blood of a business, business people often forget they already have a source of said ‘life-blood’: people who have already bought from them. Unfortunately, too often they either take them for granted – assuming that because they were so impressed with the service and/or product they received, they will come running back when they need something additional, or they don’t think of them at all, acting as if all customers are new customers. Of course, the result is the customer does not think of them either.

“A truly ‘lost’ customer must be approached cautiously. After all, there has probably been no real communication for some time. But you must find a way to reestablish contact. Direct mail, email, the method may depend on the data you have. Here is where caution comes in. Suddenly pummeling them with reminders that you are still in business and why the heck have they not visited you, or the same old flyers you send out would be counter productive. These are people who have done business with you before. They want to – and may already,  think of themselves as special, as having done you the kindness of having done business with you – no matter that you may feel you saved their business, made them look good to their client or boss, or simply given them a great deal! Your perception is irrelevant.

There must be some kind of offer to entice these lost souls. It needn’t be anything large, just something of value. After all, they were your customer once, if you provided a quality product and good service, they probably would most likely welcome the contact; a much easier sale I would say. In all probability it wasn’t that they did not want to do business any longer, but, like for most of us, life simply got in the way, and since the business did nothing to reestablish the relationship, it slipped away like an old High School friend,” finished The Detective with a flourish.

“How poetic!” I exclaimed.

“Yes, well, sometimes it is easy to get carried away Watson, let us not dwell on that,” replied The Detective sheepishly.

“Of course, sir. Shall we take a break before going into another mystery?” I asked, giving him an opportunity to slip away from the subject.

“Excellent idea, Watson, Excellent idea!”



The Mystery of the Disturbing Discussion

It had been a bothersome day for me. I had made the mistake of reviewing some commentary that had disturbed me. It wasn’t the subject matter per se, and not really the opinion of the author’s, since everyone is entitled to that, but rather something about  the tone of the discussions. I decided to see what The Effective Detective thought about it, and perhaps soothe the sense of discontent I was feeling.

“Good day, Watson,” the Detective cheerily greeted me, “ah, but from your look I would say that it is not such a good day for you.”

“Quite observant, sir,” I replied.

“Well, that is part of my job now isn’t it,” he laughed. “Have a seat and let us discuss what is causing your long face.”

“I was reviewing a discussion online…” I started.

“Political, religious, or business?” The Detective interjected. “Not that it actually matters, I suspect that it wasn’t the content that was bothering you, but rather something about the progression of the discussion,” he finished.

“Good lord man, where you looking over my shoulder without me noticing you there?” I asked, shocked that he seemingly read my mind.

“Elementary, my dear Watson,” The Detective replied with that slight grin of his. “There could only be two things that would cause you to look so down in the dumps, one: that you whole heartedly disagreed with the thoughts being bandied about and yet you refrained from joining in the discussion, resulting in frustration, or two: that there was something about how one or more participants in the discussion were acting, and you became distraught because you could not figure out just what that something was. Since you looked more thoughtful than angry, I easily deduced that it must be the latter. Pray enlighten me.”

“Spot on as always sir,” I answered after a slight pause. The Detective gave a slight bow. “The person who had started the discussion confused me. He reacted to every objection to or observation about his points not with an attempt to consider, or even understand it, but rather to either belittle, or turn it to his point of view in some way. He seemed to be incapable of saying, ‘Good point! I shall consider that.’ ”

“I have seen that attitude too often myself Watson,” sighed The Detective. “It has brought down many a good business person, I’m afraid. It is not so much that they are convinced they are right, but rather fear that someone might think less of their expertise or decision making if they stray from their stated beliefs. It has caused business people to pursue product lines or services for which there is no market because they believe there has to be, when just a minor change in their direction towards an existing market could lead to success. They are afraid to admit that they don’t know everything or that they might be mistaken, when the fact is we must always be willing to learn and admit mistakes or lack of knowledge.”

“Even you sir?” I teased.

“Especially me, Watson, especially me.”




The Mystery of The Curious Complainers

I could always tell when The Detective was on to a mystery, his impatience with me directly corresponded to the level of concern he had for what was confronting him.

“Watson! Where are you when I need you? Ahh, there you are Watson. Have a seat and some brandy, I have a mystery to discuss with you,” The Detective was particularly short this day. Not a good sign.

I took a seat as well as a small snifter of brandy, and bade The Detective continue.

“I have noticed a disturbing trend around election time each year Watson. Business people everywhere seem to descend into a deep hole of self-pity and recrimination against the rest of world about this time, and they seem to have no compunction about letting everyone know about it.”

“You mean they seem to be complaining constantly?” I volunteered.

“What’s that? Yes! Yes, excellent Watson, complaining! That is exactly it; all they can do is complain! It would seem that scads of these business people – entrepreneurs if you will, who claim nothing can stop them on their way to achieving their goals seem to be brought up short at this time of the year. Obstacles that hadn’t stopped them from developing their business so far, suddenly will utterly destroy them. It seems to peak around every four years; festering, and building until finally erupting into a massive waste of time and energy. Whatever the reason, I find it quite annoying.”

“What difference should it make to you sir?” I asked, quite sure of the answer, having been down this road before.

“None really,” he admitted, “but confound it Watson! Can’t they see? It is so bloody… so bloody…”

“Ineffective, sir?” I volunteered.

“Yes! Exactly Watson! Ineffective. Complaining does nothing. Only action changes things. Why worry about what might happen? Rather, adapt to change and face the issues when they come. I just don’t understand this complaining thing. They should all just stop it!” raged The Detective.

“Perhaps you should have some brandy as well sir,” I said offering a snifter.

“Yes, perhaps I will. Then we need to move on to the next mystery Watson. I fear this one is unsolvable,” replied The Detective, visibly calming.

“Yes sir, I am afraid your deductions are quite correct there. There are more effective uses of our time as well.”

“Well put Watson, well put.”

dreamers, managers, and leaders

want to be an active participant in your group for reasons other than power, prestige, or money. When you have a manager who is truly also a leader, you have an amazingly powerful combination. We seem to have a shortage of these kind of leaders these days, people with powerful dreams (besides becoming rich on the Internet), that can not only inspire others to join them, but organize and guide them. A lofty goal to shoot for.]]>

the leader who serves


why won't they listen?

only 41% of employees believe their managers listen to the ideas they present to them.
37% (more than a third) felt their company’s management was inaccessible to them.
a majority 60% felt their company’s suggestion program was ineffective. But here’s the interesting part. According to one research firm, each employee suggestion was worth approximately $6,000 to a company in cost savings, etc. So why does it sound like hardly anybody is listening? One reason (and the one close to half of the people participating in the studies mentioned above would probably believe) is that employee suggestion boxes are just there for show. A sop to keep the employees quiet. The big reason – at least what I would hope – is like so many other well intentioned projects, many (and perhaps most) employee suggestion programs do not have systems in place to handle the incoming suggestions. Is there a central place to accumulate them? Is there staff assigned to review, filter and pass on the most “promising” suggestions? Hanging out a box for people to put pieces of paper in isn’t a system – it is a recipe for further employee frustration and disengagement. If you want input, then make it possible to listen. ]]>

A committee of one

full time leader, part time manager