Landings Provides a Takeoff Platform

I have landed.  This incarnation of my career search has been successful. I am now employed by Skeleton Key a technology firm in St. Louis, in a business development role.  The first person Skeleton Key has had focused completely on bringing new business into the firm. Up until now, that’s been the Principals job, Mark Richman and Oliver Block.  There’s nothing like taking your bosses job…

Now, on to what’s really important.  Landing Provides a Takeoff Platform

If you’ve followed this blog at all you know that I have many people to thank for their assistance along the way to finding Skeleton Key, or being found by Skeleton Key, depending on your perspective.  I was actually introduced to Mark Richman by Gill Wagner (seen here on The Rise to The Top).  Tracking that backwards, I was introduced to Gill by Kevin Pannebecker.  Thanks again to both. They are truly Go-Givers.

When I landed I felt a momentary ease.  It was good to know that I would not be depending on Missouri’s failing unemployment budget any longer.  By the time I actually appeared in the office, ready to work, I realized that while landing felt great, I need to put the rocket boosters back on and take off again.  What?  Take off to where?

My landing provided me a platform (Skeleton Key) from which to launch.  It has also given me new cargo and a new message to add to the Giving Experiment mission.  Many time I have more questions than answers as I ponder how to package the message and new cargo as I continue the mission of giving, but last night and this morning have been especially clear.

With that said, here is an announcement regarding The Giving Experiment.  Look for changes, both stylistic and in the content, over the next couple of months.  I have a few more posts to make regarding my career search.  They seem relevant since I’ve started the story line already and have a few new people to mention along the way.

However, my little experiment is growing as I load a companies business development plans into the cargo hold. Growth is the goal here right?  It is why I started the experiment.

<<< About Skeleton Key >>> We focus in two area, IT Consulting and FileMaker Development. In many ways they go hand in hand, but let me explain for those of you who are not so techno savvy.  Our strengths in the IT business are cross-platform (especially Mac and PC) integration, Cisco issues and unique projects that require creative solutions.  We make Mac and PC play nice together better than anyone in the St. Louis area.  Oliver Block is a magician with Cisco. (Don’t tell him I said it though.)  Our FileMaker Development team is one of the best in the world.  We are a FileMaker Business Alliance Platinum Member.  If you don’t know much about FileMaker it’s worth a look.  There is not quicker, more flexible database tool for small to medium user groups.

head-shot Who are you giving to?

What is your motivation?

When will you commit to making someone else better off?

Where will you go if you get the axe?

Why aren’t you preparing for that?

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Make A Referral Week

February 27, 2009

marw125

Great idea I just had to share with everyone.

Thanks

Who have you refered lately?

What are you waiting for?

When is “the right time” to do business?

Where is your next customer coming from?

Why do we accept that which we can change?

head-shot Jason R. Thomas

JasonR.Thomas@yahoo.com

Running a recruiting desk for the past several years gave me a great opportunity to develop a very broad network.  I utilized many resources for no other reason than to network.  As I entered my career search I realized that much of the network I had created was about breadth, not depth.

Let me explain using LinkedIn.com as an example.  When my career search began I had very close to 2,000 direct connections which gave me a huge network of people with whom I could communicate on LinkedIn.  However, of those 2,000 people there were less than 50 who I could pick up the phone and call to share the news of my career search.  Less than 50 who cared a lick.

There are several reasons for that, one being most of the professionals working in my niche at the time were not on LinkedIn.  Historically, they are one of the last groups to join new web based trends.  Another real reason is that my LinkedIn network was designed as a way to attract new, fresh faces into my network in hopes that expanding the breadth would allow me to source more candidates.  Since I only conducted one search in the St. Louis market in 2 years developing a local network was not a priority.

Now I needed a new type of network.  One with heart.  One with depth.  One with local focus.  How could I leverage my current resources (breadth of connections) to create more beneficial resources?  The answer became clear as I search LinkedIn looking for people in the St. Louis area who shared some commonality with.  Did we go to school together?  Are we part of the same groups, or could we be?  Do we live in the same town?

LinkedIn does not encourage connecting with people you don’t know so reaching out to these people is a bit tricky.  It’s almost like internet dating.  As I browsed the personals and want ads.  Sincerely, I looked through LinkedIn’s “groups” for those that were based on locality to St. Louis.  I was fortunate enough to find a group specifically for Wentzville, MO Professionals started by Greg Younger.  Read Greg’s Blog.

Here is the hard part folks.  You can only let the computer do so much of the work.  It will help you get wide but you’ll have to risk a little to get deep.  I sent Greg a not asking if he’d like to go grab a cup of coffee and network.  Greg promptly agreed that we should meet.  He also shared some information about his motives for starting the LinkedIn group which revolve around helping the Wentzville City Parks & Recreation Department raise money to improve the facilities and has evolved into The Friends of the Wentzville Parks.  We’re accepting donations now, but more on that later.

All of this has been easy.  We’ve not met yet.  Now get out the shovel because we’ve got to make this network DEEP.  When Greg and I met we each took some chances in sharing our stories. Greg about the Friends of the Wentzville Parks.  By the way, because he took a leap of faith in sharing his passion on the subject and openly asked me to help he gained a board member for the new group.  I shared with Greg my Go-Giver story up that point and we have truly found common ground in developing a Go-Giver spirit.

Since that first meeting, Greg and I have met several more times in several different settings.  Each time our network gets stronger.  That’s right.  Each time he and I met our network gets stronger….Because it gets DEEPER.  It’s not that we necessarily meet new people each time but when you know someone a little better, nourished that relationship a little more; tend that little plant growing from the small seed you planted.  When you do that.  When you give more VALUE (law 1) to that person in the form of AUTHENTIC (law 4) you and they do the same allowing you to RECEIVE (law 5).  As I know more about Greg I am able to understand his interests and better place them first (law 3). Your network gets DEEPER and stronger creating more wealth generating opportunities (law 2).

Who do you need to give some AUTHENTICITY to?
What VALUE does your network get from you?
When do you make it a point to INFLUENCE people by placing their interests first?
Where are you looking for new COMPENSATION?
Why do we struggle with balance in our desire and willingness to RECEIVE?

Jason R. Thomas

Jason R. Thomas

If you’ve been reading this blog for 5 days or 5 minutes scroll on down to the bottom left of the page and hit “RSS feed” to keep tabs on me.  Or scroll up to the top of the page and do the same.

Also, I invite comments.  My effort is really to share my experience, my Experiment in giving.  Without input from the world it’s hard to know if there’s an impact to the reader (YOU).

To play a little catch up here, Kevin Pannebecker overheard Greg Younger and I talking about The Go-Giver and a local coach  consultant who’d been asked to design the coaching program for the material.  Kevin, being the go-giving connector he is, introduced Greg and I to Dixie Gillaspie and arranged for us to meet.

I don’t know about you but I have a tendency to be a little bit nervous when I’m meeting a guru.  It just doesn’t happen that often I guess.  Meeting someone who’s so profoundly connected to the concepts that have started to take over my mind.  It’s a bit intimidating.

This reminds me of a point I should be talking about.  In The Go-Giver, the main character, Joe, makes a statement to Pindar, the guru, about his surprise that Pindar is willing to meet with him and share so much.  Pindar’s response is to tell Joe that it is common practice among extremely successful people to give of their time when asked to mentor.  At first glance, this is one point I really doubted.  Then again, how many times had I asked to be mentored?  None, I assumed (we all know what that does) that people wouldn’t have time.

Moral: Respect people enough to let them manage their own time.  Don’t assume for them.

Dixie is one of the most approachable people I’ve met.  I think it comes from the following of the Law of Authenticity.  There is no pretense or judgment, just Dixie being herself.

As we chat, each of us shares a bit about ourselves and what’s brought us all to this table. The interconnectedness is astounding and definitely worthy of conversation.  That we are all here to learn how we can help one anther there is a race the magic networking questions: “How will I know when I’m talking to someone I should connect you with?”  Greg gets there first to the astonishment of Dixie, who’s obviously accustomed to leading the giving parade.

Dixie’s response is interesting, she needs to connect with diverse groups who would like to learn The Go-Giver model in a series of presentations / coaching sessions.  At that point, the modules are in place and she’s really working on putting them in front of people who will challenge them before moving on to training other coaches.  In addition, she’s always interested in meeting people who’ve read The Go-Giver and are willing to share their reaction.

For me this is almost a water shed moment.  I am fortunate enough to know some people who really might be good contacts for Dixie.  I mention an a lawyer in Chicago I’d met through my recruiting practice, Scott Becker.  Scott is one of the best networkers I’ve ever seen in action.  He knows everyone within a specific segment of the health care market and EVERYONE knows, and respects him.

Dixie’s insights into my career search have proven to be invaluable, both in terms of my perspective and the view others are given.  Perspective makes all the difference.

I run home as quickly as I can to introduce Scott to Dixie.  (Okay I drove but you’ll have to wait until next time for the rest of the story…)

Who have you always wanted to meet but never taken the chance?
What long lost member of your network should you be connecting with a new contact?
When is you next appointment with someone you admire?
Where do you love to meet people?
How do you maintain information about your network connections?

“Jim this is Matt.  Matt this is Jim.”

I’d always used this format.  Simple, to the point and WORTHLESS.  If Jim and Matt happened to be standing face to face at this moment, and would probably have had to share a pleasantry anyway, they may indeed speak for a few minutes more.

If you really want to introduce people, you’ve got to give them something to break the ice.  Think about the most difficult part of a conversation with someone you’ve never met.  Many times it’s finding the common ground to get the conversational ball rolling.  From there it’s a down hill slide that most intelligent people can handle.

Let’s take this one step more.  Let your imagination wrap around this scenario for a moment.  You meet Jim at a cocktail hour one evening and have a wonderful conversation about youth baseball.  Jim runs the baseball league in a neighboring community as a volunteer and they are struggling to raise money for a new facility.  A few weeks later, you meet Matt.  Matt has just moved to your area, is in career search, but in his spare time he used to work with his son’s baseball league.  A few years ago he was instrumental in raising money to a new league facilities.  He really misses having that volunteer interaction now that his family has moved.

Okay, so it’s obvious you’ve go to introduce these two guys right?  They’re not standing next to each other so you think “I can email them.”  I know during my conversation with Matt I would have mentioned that I met Jim a few weeks ago.  I would have committed to him to connect them.  For me, that is the first part.  YOU must make a commitment to follow through with you thoughts of connecting.

Sitting in front of you computer, hands on keyboard you realize “Jim this is Matt.  Matt this is Jim” just won’t cut it.  Jim will likely be very confused.  My suggestion is address you email primarily to Jim since Matt knows it’s coming, but include them both as recipients.  Then tell Jim the story of meeting Matt.  Why you think they should meet.  Think about the first few sentences of the conversation, what would make it easier for you if roles were reversed.  Be sure to tell Jim that Matt is also in a career search.

Most importantly though, keep you email engaging.  Help each individual look forward to connecting with the other.  Paint the picture that there is obvious mutual benefit, because there is, or at least that the benefit to one party is so strong that the other feels compelled to help out a little and meet someone new.  Then leave each individuals contact information, phone and email, so they can connect on their own terms.  You don’t have to broker a deal for them.  If your that invested in the connection then I’m going to question you motives.

Use the same ideas when introducing people face to face.  You’ll be able to leave the conversation quickly and continue mingling, doing your thing, knowing that the new relationship you introduced gets a little head start.  Now it that’s not giving, I don’t know what is.

Who have you connected?
What stops you?
When is the best time for you to introduce people to one anther?
Where will you be when you’re introduced to someone who changes your life?
Why wait until then to start changing your habits?

Jason R. Thomas
Jason R. Thomas
If you’ve been reading this blog for 5 days or 5 minutes scroll on down to
the bottom left of the page and hit “RSS feed” to keep tabs on me.  Or scroll up to the top of the page and do the same.
Also, I invite comments.  My effort is really to share my experience, my Experiment in giving.  Without input from the world it’s hard to know if there’s an impact to the reader (YOU).

At this point in my career search I needed to continue networking with people.  Meeting new people and focusing on targeted companies and individuals.  I have a large online network through Linkedin.com, which will explain why many of the links you see here are to that site.  I developed 2000+ direct connections there as an open networker.  I focused on building a broad network as a recruiter with the intention of using it to identify appropriate candidates and prospective new clients.  However, I did not really know very many people in my network.  I decided that the best thing to do was start with what I have and try to deepen the connections there.

I went through my contacts on LinkedIn.com and sent personal notes to all of my direct contacts within the St. Louis area specifically.  I also looked for groups that would focus my local networking and found a Wentzville Professionals group started by Greg Younger.  I dropped him a personal note as well.  He was one of the few to respond in kind so we easily struck up a conversation.  A few days later we met for breakfast and networking. Greg Younger and I have a lot in common.  We are about the same age, each have a young child and wife and live in a relatively small town (Wentzville, MO) on the western edge of the St. Louis Metro.  Greg also happens to be the premiere Financial Advisor for the Wentzville area so I was very pleased to be meeting with such a well networked individual.  As we spoke I mentioned The Go-Giver and how it had changed my career search.  I did so as a means of explaining that I was more than mildly interested when I asked him what his perfect client looked like.  We talked about it for a few minutes and I thought little more of it.

A few days later I saw Greg again at The Missouri Networking Group.
As we ate lunch Greg made sure to tell me he had read The Go-Giver and was excited about it.  Since our last conversation over breakfast I had made a few more connections associated with the book.  In the process of connecting more deeply with my LinkedIn.com connections I called Joe High , who is also a financial adviser.  Joe’s focus is the high net worth investor and Joe has proven to be one of the most prolific networkers around.  In our conversation about the Go-Giver, he mentioned an associate of his who had been asked by the authors to develop curriculum for coaches and consultants based on The Five Laws and other principals in The Go-Giver.  He mentioned that Dixie Gillaspie also happened to be based out of the St. Louis area. I had also read about Dixie a few days earlier in one of my favorite blogs, written by The Nametag Guy Scott Ginsberg.   Scott’s blog has been driving me to “Put myself out there” as he calls it.  Placing myself outside my comfort zone.  Asking questions I wouldn’t usually ask but would wonder.  Really put in terms of The Go-Giver, Scott’s information pushes me to follow The Law of Authenticity, and The Law of Compensation by meeting more people than ever before.  Anyway, take a few minutes and read his stuff.  It is also amazing.

Now, as you’ll recall, Greg and I are talking about The Go-Giver at a large networking gathering.  I mention that I had heard about someone who’s based out St. Louis and has been asked to develop the coaching and consulting piece of the material in the book.  This conversation if overheard by Kevin Pannebecker , who owns and operates Sparkling Image of Eastern Missouri.  Kevin is truly a connector in the Go-Giving sense.  Kevin suggests that he should introduce Greg and I to Dixie.

Who is waiting to hear from you?
What are you waiting for?
When do you take time everyday to feed your hunger for knowledge?
Where do you find daily inspiration?
Why don’t we see the multiplicity inherent in connecting people to one anther?

To be continued.

If you’ve been reading this blog for 5 days or 5 minutes scroll on down to the bottom left of the page and hit “RSS feed” to keep tabs on me.  Or scroll up to the top of the page and do the same.
Also, I invite comments.  My effort is really to share my experience, my Experiment in giving.  Without input from the world it’s hard to know if there’s an impact to the reader (YOU).

Calling To Say Thank You

January 14, 2009

The day after I finished reading The Go-Giver, I called John Woodhead to express my sincere thanks for suggesting the book.  He was delighted to hear it had impacted me so strongly and invited me to a networking get together later that evening.  Now, I’ve never been a big bar patron, but the opportunity to meet and great people associated with John was more than I could pass up.

The group met at a nice little place in Clayton called Roxanes.  While there I met several people who I am still communicating with.  One of the is Robyn Obermoeller who started Hope Campaign.  Robyn’s concept for Hope Campaign is inspiring and our discussions about building Hope Campaign grew into talks me coming on board to help her develop the idea to fruition.  In the end, the timing was not right on either end.  I was happy to share my thoughts with Robyn and some contacts that will hopefully be valuable as she continues to build Hope Campaign.  By the way, if you are in the market for real estate in the St. Louis area take a look at Hope Campaign.

At the networking meeting I was also able to meet with John again and his wife, Kelly.  He introduced me to several people and I took some time to observe the group.  Watching people interact and learning from how others introduce themselves and their associates.  As I might have noted previously, networking for me has been a business venture.  Dollars tied to each connection.  That is not the approach needed for Go-Giver so I find myself re-learning some relatively basic things.

The good news is, this re-learning is really a return to natural communication away from manipulative communication.  As a recruiter, I was taught to get the referral by virtually any means necessary.  In many models I tried it quickly became a pushy sales guy approach because of the lack of trust developed within the relationships.  Just think, after 3 minute conversation I’m asking you to give me names and numbers of people I should talk to about a job.  During that 3 minutes I might not have listened to you for more than 30 seconds.  It sound crazy I know, but that is the standard method.  Also, as I met new people here at Roxane’s I again realized that despite my personal leanings towards the introverted I need people surrounding me to do good work.

In closing this post I’d like to say Thanks to John Woodhead one more time.

I would also like to ask you, as the reader, where do you need to challenge yourself to make some changes?
What keeping your from being a Go-Giver?
What are you waiting for?
Why do you expect different results from the same old processes?
Who do you need to call just to say “thank you?”