First off let's set the record straight. As far as the larger world is concerned I’m a nobody from the middle of nowhere. My family are ordinary people who have lived in the same Ohio town for over 100 years. I come from generations of proud entrepreneurs, trailblazers, and civil servants, but most people in the world at large have never heard their names, or mine.
Interestingly, being a little nobody from nowhere has had it’s perks. Small towns have worked like an analog LinkedIn for thousands of years, so I learned a few things that help me in a digital world back when networking was only face to face.
Introductions are great, but sometimes you have to do it yourself
Social media didn’t exist when I was in college, and was in it’s infancy when I was in grad school. Little did I know how much it would change my life, and open up my world.
I love to read, I’m always reading a few books at a time, and I’ve grown to have an affinity for certain writers. Writers, even New York Times best-selling writers, are often just as down to earth as the rest of us, and social media is a great way to tell a writer how much their work means to you.
That’s how I met Dave Kerpen several years ago. At some point I mentioned him in a Tweet, and much to my surprise, he replied. Every once in awhile I’d share something I thought would interest him, or give a shout out when one of his books was helpful to me in some way. I don’t remember when, but eventually he “followed me back” on Twitter.
When Dave, and Likeable Local launched their software product, Likeable Hub, I was an early adopter. I already knew that the product would be great for my needs, because I knew the guy behind the product. Although Dave and I have yet to actually sit in the same room, we’ve forged an interesting partnership over time.
Thus when this little nobody from nowhere pitched the idea of the #ArtOfPeopleProject blog, I found myself working with an author and business person I respect and admire. Did it happen over night? No, most things of value don’t.
Other times it helps to rely on your network
Every once in awhile we find ourselves in over our heads. Several years ago I was working as the executive director of a nonprofit in crisis. We were facing some tough financial realities and if I couldn’t raise $20,000 within a few days, we would be facing layoffs. I’d already done all that I could to write grants, host fundraisers, and better manage finances. At this point we needed to make some direct asks to potential donors, and I had already exhausted my existing network.
I called a woman I knew through the organization, yet she was not a close friend at the time. Still, I knew Mary would know who I should talk to, and I was pretty sure she was willing to make the introductions I sorely needed.
Within moments she’d shared at least three or four key contacts, made a few introductions via email, and had called to coach me a little regarding the best ways to connect and communicate with those potential donors. By the end of the week I had a check for $10,000 from one donor, and pledges from two more to cover the rest.
Everyone’s jobs were saved, and I simply couldn’t have done it on my own. Mary’s connections, and her willingness to share them so freely, made all the difference.
The Art of People is really the art of connecting
What I’ve learned from Mary, and Dave, and countless other people who are masterful networkers is that these introductions go both ways. Not only have these talented people benefited from connections others have made, but they share the love by connecting others any chance they get. None of us are ever so important that we don’t have time, or ability to connect others.
Recently I asked Dave to connect me with another author he knows, Dorie Clark. Although she is a very busy person, she took time out of her day to give me some valuable advice for my last Art of People Project blog post. I greatly appreciate the connection, and it’s a privilege to add her to my network.
If there is any way I can help any of you to connect with someone I’m always happy to help. Let’s connect on LinkedIn or Twitter and we’ll see how I can help you!
Want to embark on your own #ArtOfPeopleProject? Pick up the book and then feel free to follow along and comment here. You can subscribe to the blog via email list or RSS feed here
I’m @GrazianiTJ on Twitter and I’ll be using the hashtag #ArtOfPeopleProject, I’d love to hear how your #ArtOfPeopleProject is going.