art gearing up with lists of things that are going to get done ...early...right, early. Now, being a night person my idea of early is to stroll into the office at 10:30 A.M. put my head down, grab the phone, hit email and not look up until about 7:30 P. M. Then it's off to the horse barn for an hour or two and back to work in my home office until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. No alarm clocks that function at my house.
So the queen decided to turn over a new leaf and get to the office no later than 9:00. Make it an organized year. Good plan, great plan in fact. Get in bed early and forego watching reruns of "Numbers" at 3:00 A.M. Figure out my Monday morning costume so we (that's the royal "We") don't change clothes three times and shoes four or five before launching the recruiting blitz. Call the dentist, call the farrier, check bank balances, pay bills, Focus, update, give a damn,source, present and start the year off like rolling thunder. Ole! Charge! Let's hit it and get it! Uh Huh. Great Plans in my world always seem to derail before they can bloom, much less come to fruition.
Here's how it really went on my first day back for second semester.
As i switched off the light around midnight, the phone rang. A friend had just decided that Christmas being over she would drop it on her spouse that she was filing for divorce first thing in the morning. (That would be my super Monday morning only a few hours away) Albeit this plan had been in the works for months, emotion was running wild with logic far in the backstretch.
What i said, "You are pretty emotional, if you are not sure about this you can always give it some more thought before you take action."
What i wanted to say, " Gawddamnit, it's midnight, i'm turning over a new leaf this year, how about you take a chill pill and we'll talk when the sun comes up. You just have the predawn crazies."
That one put on hold i settled in for serious sleep to prepare for the turning of the new leaf.
Wrong. Twenty minutes into dozing the Great Pyr and the Standard Poodle decided that staying up all night as we normally do with me at the computer and reruns of "Numbers going they would have a serious disagreement over a chew bone.
What i said, " STOP, you guys are pretty emotional, how about you both take a chill pill get in your crates and let's not take anymore action."
What i wanted to say, "Gawddammit, it's 1:00 in the morning if you don't stop it both of you are going outside in the cold till spring. Your pal here is turning over a new leaf .
Back to pillows..ring, ring. My nutty next door neighbor is screaming that his smoke alarm is going off and he wants to know if my townhouse is full of smoke.
What i said: "No it's your smoke alarm that is going off not mine." "You are pretty emotional just think a minute." "Did you turn on the auto clean on your oven again and forget that you turned it on?" "Well turn the thing off, open the doors and turn off the smoke alarm before you take any further action.
What i wanted to say: "Gawddammit, it's 2:00 in the morning you lunatic, you do this four or five times a year and always call me. If God had wanted me to be a firefighter he would given me a big red hat and and an axe." "I am turning over a new leaf " So take a chill pill and i'll see if i can escape before you catch me to tell me about it when the sun comes up.
So it was "Numbers" until 4:30, coffee maker blew a fuse, got dressed in the dark, even glued on false eyelashes with a flashlight and off to the office. New leaf intact i started the administrivia of bills and banking to be ready to CHARGE when everybody else got to the office.
What followed was about four early phone calls from clients and 10 or so from candidates who had decided they were turning over new leaves themselves and i was the first victim on their collective lists. It was not yet 8:30 A.M. much less my normal late morning before i answer the phone time.
What i said: "I hate to hear that you... lost or going to lose/fire a top employee/ got fired or quit/going to quit your, job. Send me your job description/resume and let's see what we can do to get the ball rolling. You are pretty emotional , don't take any action yet. let's talk after i get the paperwork."
What i wanted to say: "Gawddammmmitt, i am trying to turn over a new leaf here, i am never in the office this early and now i damn well know why. All you loonies must have real light in your houses, no friends or neighbors or dogs that keep you up all night. I bet you don't have on one black shoe and one brown shoe and i bet your right eyelash is not hanging at half mast so you look like you have either been on a ten day drunk or you went to a party as a pirate and forgot to take off the makeup. I am going to take a chill pill, go home, change shoes, glue my eyelash back on or take the other one off and start all over now that the sun has come up. CHARGE will have to be something that happens on my credit card today cause it's after noon and no leaves have been turned over, just piled up in a pile.
So much for turning over a new leaf. I am going in at 10:30 in the morning, i am going to enjoy the 3:00 AM reruns of "Numbers". Dogs are more fun to play with at night, they sleep all day. I will decide what i am going to wear tomorrow when it falls out of my closet, so what if i change shoes five times. 86 on the eyelashes. I can get the bills paid before they turn everything off. Who needs lists. Let's just roll with it as it comes.
God made me an independent recruiter so i can talk to upset people all night and all day and enjoy solving problems. What's a chew bone or two amongst dogs, friends, neighbors, candidates and clients. If God had meant for me to go to bed and get up with the chickens he would never have invented the electric light bulb.
HOW WAS YOUR FIRST DAY BACK INTO THE ORGANIZED WORLD WE CALL EXECUTIVE RECRUITING?????
How much networking is too much networking, and when do you need to translate community into dollars and sense? Is there any use in staying in front of people if you don't get their business?
I have to tell you, this question has been on my mind for a while too. And boy, does it get expensive to meet and greet with our customers, let alone our peers. Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, cha-ching. Association memberships, cha-cha-ching. Conferences, cha-ching cha-ching cha-ching. And that's just the direct financial hit; most of us can manage this with a strategy, or at least a quick look at the checkbook balance. Our parents were right, there is no such thing as a free lunch.
The indirect cost, and often the harder one to manage, is the time associated with building and maintaining a network. If you want the payoff, you actually have to show up and join the conversation. Add value. Lurking doesn't count. But all of the reading, chatting, blogging, twittering - that constant pursuit of connection and knowlege online - it's an eyelash away from overwhelming. Oh stop, you know it's true.
I don't know what the answer is, but I do like connecting the dots in disparate parts of my world. And here's where those dots are taking me now. Three years ago I shifted from hands-on recruiting to running a software company, and one of the best pieces of advice I got in that transition was to begin with an exit strategy in mind. Simply put, I needed to know when to cut my losses so I didn't gamble more than I was prepared to lose. I think about that a lot, three years into the game, in many contexts: the strategy of my business, managing money and time, even the friendships I make and nurture along the way. It was wise advice because it forces a balance between my head and my heart... and growing up is, I suspect, the art and science of finding and keeping balance.
Here's what I have learned so far about networking, community, and the financial connection between them:
1. Networking is a marketing activity that builds visibility. It's a tool, like business cards or a website. You gotta have it.
2. Unless it's a really crappy product or service, people do business with people they trust. Business seldom comes before trust, and it never stays without it.
3. Time is the most valuable thing I have to spend, and I get 24 hours every single day. If I'm not thoughtful about how to spend it, I lose it. Period. The bonus is that I can plan, and I can choose.
4. It's important to show up, but it's really important to let others know what you do and how you can help them when the time is right. Another wonderful person gave me that piece of wisdom along the way.
Networking is a variation on the matchmaking we do as recruiters, making connections that may (or may not) produce revenue for a long time to come. But you can't stop feeding the pipeline, because when you do it dries up. So go back to the basics to set your course, my friend: write down what you want from networking, the amount of time and money you're willing to spend on getting it, and how you'll recognize when it's time to try something else. Then just do it. Aim, measure, improve, repeat -- the secret sauce of success.
In my day job, I’m the head of Products for Improved Experience, where we help employers use feedback to measure and manage engagement for competitive advantage in hiring and retention. Learn more about us here.
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