Sink Your Networking With One Track Thinking

A few months ago, I relocated my family back to a city we’d left about seven years earlier.  I had lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma for well over a decade and really adored the city…despite exercising my best sales and networking efforts, I was in love – and she was moving to Houston, Texas- so I packed up and went.  Looking back, a change of venue was exactly what I needed.

In late 2009, I had exited one career and was underway with a new one, as a leadership and talent development consultant.  The problem, though, was that most of my contacts in Tulsa had associated me with my previous career in the investments business, re-branding myself was proving difficult.

Soon after the move to Houston, I had built a new network, was enjoying success in a new career field and actually caught that girl I had chased to Texas. This past fall, we returned to Tulsa.

tulsaskyline1144x500Now the challenge was to re-establish my network in a city I had left seven years prior (having kept in touch with only a handful of people) with a radically different career focus than 1997-2009 had needed.

It is easy to get sucked into a new job.  Your first 100 days feel like a sprint, and if you are driven AT ALL, most people want to make sure they are seen as a contributor as quickly as possible.  This new role for me was no different.

This job is a little bit success coach + a scoop of sales messaging + talent development + grit seasoned with a little bit of flip cup & bacon – seriously, these people LOVE US SOME BACON! #baconfriday

Today, I work as the senior sales enablement manager for a SaaS (Software as a Service) startup, ConsumerAffairs.com. It is a dream. Ten years ago, I was part of a scrappy young professional movement in Tulsa that was screaming from the rooftops about what this city needed to become to stop the brain drain in Oklahoma.  Today, I work for the very type of company our grew said was absolutely what this city needed…but I digress.

My daily focus centers around activities which enable our sales team to do better, succeed faster, and win more deals.  (It’s a really fun job that is a little bit success coach + a scoop of sales messaging + talent development + grit seasoned with a little bit of flip cup & bacon – pork-diagramseriously, these people LOVE US SOME BACON! #baconfriday) Interestingly enough, our team often sells to marketers and senior executives for brands of all size.  Lately, I’ve been purposefully scheduling one-on-one meetings with colleagues outside my company, as I re-establish my new network in town.

In late December, I attended our local Association for Talent Development chapter, where I identified a number of people to get to know better.  As is the practice for me, I immediately (after meeting them off-line) went to LinkedIn and established a connection.  Then, as I often do, I sent a quick message (via the site) to a few, inviting them to visit our new training center and chat over a cup of coffee.  One person, however, took over a month to respond. But her message astounded me… As it turns out, her company has BLOCKED LINKEDIN on their network, and she didn’t see my message for nearly a month! And she works for a Fortune 500 company!

As it turns out, her company has BLOCKED LINKEDIN on their network, and she didn’t see my message for nearly a month!

Every month, our sales development representatives work hard to locate and rope in sales qualified leads for our account executives.  We have a small army of SDRs who are tremendous…and heavily reliant on LinkedIn for much of their outbound efforts…

money coin stack lg (2)On its own, LinkedIn serves a variety of purposes: gathering  background on a potential connection; gathering basic intelligence on a company; connecting with new prospects; and, yes, keeping a conversation going after meeting someone at a professional function! This reality, though, served as a good reminder.

At the ATD meeting, my connection had actually given me their business card, but I didn’t simply email her directly…Instead relying on the method that I would most likely have expected to hear from someone following up under similar circumstances.  It never occurred to me that her company would have an IT policy that was so restrictive as to block what is arguably the world’s largest business networking website. Today, I received a frantic message after she happened to find my message on LinkedIn by coincidence.  We’re setting up coffee for later in the week….over email!

Let this tale serve as a strong reminder that if we get stuck on the one-track thinking that is centered on what WE expect, it just may be the same kind of thinking that prevents us from actually connecting with others the way THEY want (or otherwise NEED) us to connect with THEM.

How do YOU prefer for people to reach out to YOU?

 

One thought on “Sink Your Networking With One Track Thinking”

  1. Great message, Scott and All the Best in your return to Tulsa! Hope 2017 is a Super year for you. We will miss you here in Houston but do stay in touch! JC

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