Friday, April 21, 2006

Six Degrees of Connection

Six Degrees of Connection by Tyson Greer Imagine the last networking event you attended. Now imagine enjoying it. Networking is not rocket science. It is a skill you can learn. Darcy Rezac, managing director of the Vancouver Board of Trade since 1986, has shaken hands with more heads of state, captains of industry, and folks like us than you and I probably ever will. Rezac draws on the small world phenomena work of Cornell mathematicians Duncan Watts and Steve Strogataz. Rezac contends, "We're all connected to each other by as few as six handshakes." But without an effective networking strategy and skill set, as Rezac says, "It's just a whole lot of hand shaking going on." In his book The Frog and Prince: Secrets of Positive Networking to Change Your Life*, Rezac uses the classic fable to delve into the art and science of networking. Rezac says that when wannabe networkers working a room—or a pond—focus on "What can these people do for me?" they're asking the wrong question. The right question is, "How can I be useful to these people?" According to Rezac, the difference between glad-handing and successful networking is that the power goes both ways. Discover what you can do for someone else without expectation of return. Networking is about good things going both ways. It's also about maintaining a connection. This is where your Windows Mobile powered device comes in. In the six degrees metaphor, not all connections are equal. Only a few people are pivot points and, according to Rezac, you want to be one of those. You can use your mobile device to keep notes on the people you already know, or add more to expand your network easily. Jotting or recording a few notes on your Smartphone or Pocket PC is much more discrete than opening your laptop or pulling out a tattered notepad. As you meet people, make a few quick notes in your Pocket PC, or if you have a Smartphone, add names and phone numbers to your contacts. Later, when you sync your device to your desktop computer, you can type up more extensive notes or add voice notes from your Smartphone. To view the notes you've added to your contacts on your Smartphone, open a contact name. Scroll to the bottom of the entry and select View Notes. You can also make voice notes to refer to later. Categorize your contacts into buckets, such as "Sales" or "Real Estate" as well as the usual Business or Personal categories. That way you'll be able to filter by category to find relevant information quickly. Here are a few more tips on how to improve yoru networking skills while at a meeting or event: While you're there Instead of watching for the right moment in the conversation to thrust your business card at your new friend, listen for an opportunity to share a contact that can help her with something she needs. Maybe she mentions she's always wanted to go on a fly-fishing vacation. You just happened to have met someone who talked a lot about the best fly-fishing vacation he ever took. He found the best places to go, and where to stay. You, being organized and having recorded his name in your Smartphone, can find his name quickly by filtering your contacts on Vacations. You can also call him to confirm his willingness to share the information. If the person you're talking to has a device that allows beaming, it's easy for you to beam the contact information directly. Just line up your devices for IR beaming, or if your device is bluetooth enabled, turn on bluetooth to beam. You can also use your Smartphone or Pocket PC camera to take a quick snapshot to store with their Contact information. (After getting their permission of course!) The picture will help you remember names and facts later. After you leave Have you ever looked at a business card a week after an event and wondered, "Who the heck was this?" Maybe you had written something down, but couldn't read the illegible note you'd scribbled on back of the card. After the event, sync your device with your desktop computer and fill out the notes, tasks, and contact fields on your desktop. Later, you'll have the full record on your device, available to refer to when you meet again. To make sure you fulfill any promises you made to follow up, create a Task for yourself with a due date. Take advantage of the fields for birthday or anniversary dates, spouse's name, and be sure to use Categories. Use the Notes section of your Calendar event to jot down the people you expect to see at the next month's event. Note: A good third-party notes or task program for your Windows Mobile powered Smartphone extends the power of your device. Try one of the following: Tasks Oxios ToDo List 5.0. This program allows you to add contacts to your tasks, add notes, and see categories. You can also see the due dates of each task. Notes Smartphone Notes. Though you can't add categories to the notes, you can type in your thoughts and sync them to your Notes program in Microsoft Outlook. Before you go to the next event Check those notes! Who was there last month and what were they planning to do? George was looking forward to an anniversary cruise with his wife. Anna was presenting a concept to a new client. Ramón was going through interviews for a promotion. When you see George, "How was your cruise?" And when you see Anna, "How did your new client like the concept?" And when you see Ramón, "How did the interview go?" As Rezac says, "It's all about establishing relationships, then maintaining them. People do business with those they know and trust." One of Rezac's secrets of success is the simple concept that all networks have value. He says, "It's a counter intuitive notion that every single contact you make is important. But you have no idea when that contact may be important or when you can be important to that contact. If you focus only on people you think might be useful to you, how would you know?" So get out there in the pond, shake a few hands, and as Rezac suggests, end each conversation with this question, "Now is there anything I can do for you?" *A new edition of The Frog and Prince will be released in the fall of 2005 by Penguin (Prentice-Hall) as Work the Pond. About the Author Tyson Greer is CEO of Ambient Insight LLC, a research and development firm that specializes in wireless productivity products and mobile learning technology. As a mobile maven, Tyson makes a habit to keep in close touch with colleagues and customers on the latest mobile device she can get her hands on. Related Articles Choosing Your Next Windows Mobile Device Windows Mobile in the Classroom Say Ah! to Windows Mobile Enterprises Discover GPS and Windows Mobile See all articles

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