Success Matters Edition #7 9/28/2007

Success Matters - Newsletter from Gerrie - #7 September 2007

Success Matters
Success Associates

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Celebrate your ‘second new year’!

New Year’s Day is the time of year that many people get inspired and motivated to make changes in their lives.

Have you noticed other cycles in the year when you feel that same inspiration to make changes?

September is one of those cycles, as one author noted. She referred to September as our ‘second new year’. Our inspiration to initiate new beginnings may be a flash back to our childhood when we began a new school year or when your children begin a new school year in September.

In September, people often challenge themselves to take bolder steps with their recharged energy during this ‘second new year’.

September is also referred to as the ‘season of harvest’ when we receive the benefits from our growth during the spring and summer seasons in our personal and professional relationships, professional challenges, and physical fitness activity.

One growth area that is challenging to all levels of leadership is getting out of one’s comfort zone and networking, perceived as a dreaded necessity by many professionals. During this season of change, it’s a perfect time to stretch yourself and expand your network reach.

Although many of us know that relationships are one of the most critical factors in sustained career success, many resist stepping outside their comfort zone and taking the time to build new relationships.

In this article, you’ll learn about a more personal approach to the traditional networking – it is the ‘new networking’ called ‘net-weaving’. Net-weaving is based on initiating reciprocal relationships and being a ‘strategic connector’. Both of these involve building relationships through being of service to others.

Many of you know people who instinctively net-weave and make strategic connections. They are typically people who seem to have a lot of ‘luck’ in their career. I’d love to think that luck just happens. However, luck is created by consistent and focused action.

There is a famous quote, “the harder I work, the luckier I get”. A few of my clients appear to be lucky. However, they are continually reaching out to others to be of help, to just check in with them, and being ‘curious’ about the other person. As strategic connectors, they also have many people within ‘six degrees of separation’ from them.

If you’ve narrowed your business relationships to your existing co-workers because it feels like you just can’t find the time for a lunchtime or evening event, I have a challenge for you through the end of the year:

Each month, attend at least one networking event or invite one person to lunch or coffee for the sole purpose of being of service to others.

Notice if you feel inspired by the new ideas that you acquire, more energized by the new connections that you make, and more productive and motivated with the change in your routine.

Have fun this season as you begin net-weaving and expand your ‘six degrees of separation’ community!

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” Dale Carnegie

“Six Degrees of Separation from Kevin Bacon:

Have you heard about the concept of ‘six degrees of separation’ from Kevin Bacon? Yes, it is a FACT. It’s an interesting FACT in that Kevin has never been nominated for an Oscar, yet he is well known throughout the entertainment industry and to most of you reading this article. Kevin has a unique connection with actors across many different types of entertainment, and can be linked to anyone who has ever acted (estimated to be a quarter million actors) on an average in under three steps.

John Wayne is well known, but doesn’t even come close to Kevin’s ‘six degrees of separation’ community. What is the underlying factor in John’s lower position on the list? John specialized in western movies, so he had a narrower network even after his 60-year career in movies.

The actor who comes out as number one on the ‘six degrees of separation’ list in the entertainment industry and recognized as the best connected actor is Rod Steiger. Rod moved across all different types of acting, specialized in different types of niches and was connected in many different subcultures.

From The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, pages 47-49.

We can learn a lot from Rod Steiger, Kevin Bacon, and John Wayne about building our own ‘six degrees of separation’ community and having a rich and reciprocal community to leverage each other’s talents.

It all starts with making more connections through net-weaving and being intentionally strategic in your service to others.

Many of my clients know that building relationships is a valuable and critical factor in sustaining a successful career, particularly in today’s dynamic business world. However, it also means NETWORKING! It’s a dreaded word to many because it brings up the awkwardness of having to walk into a large room with many people who don’t know you, making small talk, and then asking for their business card, information or a referral.

However, others love to meet new people, so networking to them is fun because they focus on learning about the other person.

When you ‘net-weave’ intentionally and with focus, you easily become a ‘strategic connector’.

What is Net-Weaving . . . the New Networking?

Net-weaving is based on the principle of reciprocity and the practice of intentionally and consistently making strategic connections.

Net-weaving is the consistent practice of making connections between those you meet and business, social, and personal opportunities that you feel would be a good fit for the other person’s needs.

It’s about having a natural curiosity about how you can be of service to others and offering reciprocal value in all your relationships whether it’s a casual conversation or a high-powered business transaction.

Reciprocal is defined as “virtually uninhibited sharing or giving. It occurs when one person shares goods or labor with another person without expecting anything in return. What makes this interaction ‘reciprocal’ is the sense of satisfaction the giver feels and the social closeness that the gift fosters”. (Wikipedia) There exists a natural give and receive between two parties.

For example, when I visited a former colleague, Laurie*, in her new store I discovered that my chiropractor, Karen*, would be an ideal customer for Laurie since her children are competitive swimmers. As soon as I left Laurie’s store, I called Karen to tell her about Laurie’s store, featuring fashion and competitive swimwear, and encouraged her to visit Laurie!

Karen would benefit from shopping in Laurie’s store, and Laurie would benefit from a new customer. They would both benefit from making each other’s acquaintance, and have fun in the process. The value and fun that I experienced was making the connection between two people who I felt would offer reciprocal value to each other.

* Laurie Aylward, The Foggy Goggle, Malvern, PA
* Karen Lewis, Gentle Touch Chiropractic, West Chester, PA

Being a Strategic Connector Increase Your Luck Factor!

The actors who are at the top of the ‘six degrees of separation’ list are strategic connectors and display qualities that are available to everyone – authentic curiosity about other people, self-confidence and sociability, and positive energy. According to Gladwell, Connectors are “people whom all of us can reach in only a few steps because, for one reason or another, they manage to occupy many different worlds, niches, and subcultures.”

Ok, you’re saying . . . so we’ve heard about Kevin Bacon, the six degrees of separation, net-weaving, reciprocal value, and strategic connectors … how does this help me to sustain my career success?

Do you know anyone who always seems to be ahead of organization change and experiences a lot of ‘luck’?

Before a reorganization or change in business direction is announced, they have already landed a great new job, and most likely, an increased compensation package. These people are most likely ‘strategic connectors’!

There are many organization changes in our dynamic business world, yet people often wait until there is a crisis to act on their instincts. They see impending workforce reductions, and hope that they aren’t impacted. They haven’t been happy in their job for a long time … much longer than they care to admit, and struggle through another year with the justification that their current position / company is familiar and they wouldn’t have the flexibility, vacation, or compensation that they have in their current position.

Then, the job search cycle – it seems long and overwhelming!

Let’s look at real scenarios about a few people who are strategic connectors and have consistently added value by their friendship, support, and keeping in touch with the many people in their network. It’s about ‘who’ they are and their high value in relationships.

Client Scenario #1: The Client decided that his current position didn't align with his values. Although he was a consistent top performer, he was continually frustrated and stressed about what was expected of him, and he didn't feel that he was performing even close to his best. Once he decided to make a change, he contacted trusted advisors in his network, asked for their feedback about his situation, synthesized the information, and was able to quickly target companies that would be a good fit for his abilities. He landed an ideal job within 3 months with over 25% increase in base salary!

Client Scenario #2: This Client won a number of awards for her exceptional leadership and business acumen that resulted in high profitability for her organization. However, her job was challenged because of a change in company leadership and ownership. Twice, she landed new promotional positions at least one month before organization changes would have impacted her job. She read the signs of change, contacted her trusted advisors in different companies, and discovered opportunities in the ‘hidden job market’.

Both people had the courage and foresight to read the signs, and trust their instincts. They are also very generous people who enjoy keeping in touch with people with whom they have built relationships over many years.

Would you say that they are ‘lucky’ or ‘strategic connectors’ who have sustained their career success because they are recognized for ‘who’ they are and people know what they stand for?

We refer to this as their ‘unique genius’ that is reflected in an authentic and credible personal brand.

Our next edition of Success Matters will focus on the steps to becoming a more masterful strategic connector!

Coaching Questions

Where do you get ‘stuck’ in initiating reciprocal relationships? Be aware of unexpected meetings when you miss an opportunity to make a connection vs. when you engage in spontaneous, passing conversation in a way that your connection becomes a lasting relationship with reciprocal value.

Identify the factors that lead to more meaningful connections, and intentionally implement these practices. That’s being ‘strategic’ in building reciprocal relationships.

What successes have you already experienced with net-weaving and building reciprocal relationships?

Many people net-weave naturally, almost unconsciously. When you identify what you enjoy doing and do well and communicate your enthusiasm to a new acquaintance, you reinforce your success and also have more fun in being a ‘strategic connector’.

Book References

‘The Tipping Point’ by Malcolm Gladwell. Time Warner Book Group, 2002

‘Never Eat Alone and Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship At A Time’ by Keith Ferrazzi, Tahl Raz. Doubleday Publishing, 2005

Special Events

Speaking Event: “Career Revitalization … Redefine Success – Discover Your Passion and Play to Your Strengths”

Tri-State College Library Cooperative, Annual Conference: September 21, 2007, held at Immaculate University, Immaculate, PA

Professional Coaching

Coaching is a confidential partnership between you, the Client, and your Coach to help you achieve your next level of success faster and with greater focus and clarity.

If you want to discover your ‘unique genius’’, define what you stand for, and embrace more meaning and fulfillment in your work, contact Gerrie for your exploratory consultation at

Gerrie Dresser is an ICF credentialed Professional Certified Coach (PCC) and practical, innovative career strategist.

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Author is Gerrie Dresser, President of Success Associates Coaching & Consulting.

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