Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Influencing vs. Manipulating

Influencing is not manipulation.

Manipulation has a hidden agenda and is about tricking someone into doing what they don't want to do. 

Influencing is getting folks to feel safe/open enough to take in new/different information and consider other courses of action.

I have manipulated a three-year old into going to bed (haven't we all?), proudly turning off the light at the end. I have tricked someone into showing up for a surprise party they didn't know we were throwing. I have been deliberately mislead into signing a document for a new water heater I did not need (somedays I am not smart). Not all manipulation is for evil intent. However, the common themes are misleading or misrepresenting information to get someone to do something they might not otherwise choose.

You try to keep control of the other party when you manipulate.You can only manipulate most folks once. It's a one-time deal and builds no trust, confidence or relationship.

Influencing is the other side of the coin. It's about relinquishing control and offering advice or guidance (which may or may not be taken). Influencing is about committing to offering an open, honest dialogue, taking responsibility for offering the best information one has but not directing the application of the information or dictating the choices.

Mentoring is influencing at its best.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Networking - a little maintenance every day

There's a woman on LinkedIn who has over 1000 contacts. There are many more who have between 3 - 50. Neither size of network is more success than the other. There is no 'winning' the network pool. It all depends on how you maintain the network, not how you add to it.

A well-maintained network is ready to help with a crisis - yours or someone in your circles. It has relationships that go beyond a filed business card.

Maintaining a network can be done - like gardening - in big chunks or a little effort every day.

Feeding suggestions
  • Send out interesting articles targeted to folks who might actually want to read them, one small group a day/week/month.
  • Remember the anniversaries and celebrations of those in your inner circles and participate where appropriate.
  • Take folks out for tea once in a while. Or meet for a drink. A walk. A phone call.
  • Make sure your contact information stays up-to-date or latest news gets broadcast.
  • Say "thanks!" when someone helps you out.
  • Solicit ideas from your network - even on small things - just to open a conversation.

Weeding suggestions
  • Don't feel you have to respond to every call for help if you a) don't really know the person or b) have no advice/lead/contact to offer. Networking is not dependent on how much you put in but the quality of what you put in.
  • Spend more time on those on your inner circle than outer. Cherish those who might cherish you back over expanding the frontiers of your network. (unless, of course, you have time for both)
Planting suggestions
  • Follow up with new(er) contacts soon after you meet them so both of you can remember the context that prompted the connection.
  • Make a coffee or drink into a threesome or fourseome!- you don't have to do everything one/one and sometimes it's fun to introduce new or interconnected folks.
  • Solicit ideas from your network - even on small things - just to open a conversation.
There are tons of little things you can do every day without every attending a single networking event. Every meeting, phone call or email is an interaction that can build your network with sincerity and appreciation.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Role Models at the YWCA

Last week, I attended the YWCA's Women of Distinction Toronto awards. Talk about marvelous horn tooting!  Yes, the chicken was rubber but the company was spectacular.
We heard:
* Be brave for yourself
* Judge less. Understand more.
* And to tell success stories because "images of success shape aspirations - we need to see them to know how to dream them"

The winners thanked their children, their mentors and their communities. Plus the dessert was chocolate.

There is so much work yet to do - not just to correct imbalances and old thinking - but to inspire other women of all ages to run further and dream even bigger on any front!

Don't do work that doesn't fuel your passion; there are not enough hours/years that we can lose any on things that don't matter to us!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Speed Mentoring

By definition, there's no such thing, given that mentoring is a relationship meant to examine long-term goals. Speed mentoring events are really networking opportunities in a style often compared to speed dating. It's a way to meet a bunch of potential mentors very quickly.

I find it funny that, yet again, we're disguising "networking" as the more palatable "mentoring". (cheese sauce on the brussel sprouts!) They are two sides of the same coin. We need to build a community that contains (or leads us to) potential mentors. Networking is how we build community; we network every day.

The "speed" events can help you network quickly with lots of folks since research says it takes about 3 seconds to establish if there's a "connection"... (really? hmmmm...)  Networking events are a great tool to use but, like speed dating events, you only get to pick from what turns up. Building a community, finding a mentoring, all takes time.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

6 words create the most impact

I read the book review first . Describe yourself in approximately six words. Even Oprah got into the act.
Much more interesting than a resume. More engaging than name and title. I challenged my mentorees and peers: "Introduce yourself well in six words."

You say name, department/company and...
(My name is XX from YY...)
  • six words on who you are
  • six words on why you're there
  • six words on what you want
Pick one of the three choices.

Choice picks from my circle include:
  • It's all good. No, it's not.
  • Don't give up. Do give in.
  • Program lead, acronym user, BB addicted.
  • Manager, father, rugby play, accountant.
  • Defined by costs, projects and coffee.
  • Trying to understand drivers and loopholes.
  • Can be bribed with whipped cream.
You need to be "meeting-appropriate". You also share who you are. It's an elevator pitch with personality.
Try it; play around; join us....

Thursday, May 3, 2012

What's trust?

A facilitator faced the crowd, read the highlights of her resume, and concluded "So that's why you should trust me."

Now, perhaps if she had been reading a list of successful investments and then been urging us to invest with her, that could have made sense. Or if she had listed any well-executed tasks and then told us to trust her with another similar task, that too would have been ok. But she was talking about us - a room full of strangers - trusting her totally and implicitly with our fears, secrets and psyches.

All of which raised some interesting questions - what is trust? how is it earned?

There are varying degrees - just like "love" - and I doubt many of us have really thought hard about it. We trust or we don't. We use our 'gut' as a reference and we forge ahead. There are probably a few givens to explore:
  • you can't demand trust with folks you've just met, no matter how great your resume is
  • you can't assume trust with folks you've known, unless you've actually discussed the issue
  • you can earn trust either quickly or by degree but it should be a conscious effort
  • the only way to test trust is to be vulnerable with the other person and see what happens (again vulnerability can be by degrees)
Trust is not a pedigree - it's a relationship.

I'm going to ask my new mentor what he thinks...