Your Life as a Networking Event


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Assignment: Just for the Next 30 Days, Reclaim Old Relationships

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It has been a couple of decades, at least, since I bought one of those squiggly covered ruled composition books – the kind with the black taped binding. I was going to use it to write some poetry that had been ricocheting through my brain.

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The real poetry in my life has been the relationships I have had with hundreds of people.

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I decided to fill the book with the names of everyone I have ever known from all aspects of my life. This was life changing. It brought back simple memories.

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For example, I could name every elementary school teacher from K- 6. In the process, I was able to remember classmates’ names and something about them. This exercise gave birth to this assignment. Make a list of everyone you ever worked with in your industry. If you have been in the business for more than ten years, you are likely to have met hundreds. Perhaps you have a pre-computer Rolodex hidden away in a carton in some closet. Old invoices and tear sheets may stimulate your memory.

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These may be people with whom you worked shoulder-to-shoulder on an assignment. These are people with whom you had some kind of a relationship. Go beyond the obvious. There were art directors, creative directors, picture editors, art buyers, assistants, stylists, account executives, corporate folks, mentors, and many more.

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Reclamation

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Remember something personal about each of them. For example, there was Bob who was an account executive. Bob spilled coffee on a slide tray you had prepared for his client. You do remember slides, don’t you? Harry split his trousers reaching for a prop. Jane always had an ink stain on her fingers because she wrote with a  fountain pen. She had beautiful handwriting. Wendy loved dachshunds.

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Do the research. They are not likely to be where you left them. Find them!  Send them an email or better yet, a handwritten note. For example:

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Hi Jane. It has been almost twenty years since we have spoken. It took me two hours to track you down since you left Chicago. From what I can gather, you have moved at least three times since then. How do you like living in Phoenix? Thinking about you the other day. I was walking past an antique store in Old Town that had an entire window filled with a display of maybe a thousand fountain pens. I remembered your gorgeous handwriting. I remember the times we had when you were still at Dewey, Cheatham & Howe. I said to myself, got to find Jane and say hello.

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You will get a response most of the time. Do this even if your old acquaintance is seemingly no longer in the business. Reach out. Everyone knows someone to introduce you to. When you speak, ask questions. Listen to the responses. What do you have to give Jane?

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People love to be remembered. Don’t you? If you focus on making your questions about them, they are usually most happy to  answer them. And guess what? They will ask you questions about you.

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Four Configurations for Giving and Receiving

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Building relationships is about giving without an attachment to what you will get.

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1. Those who love to take. It feels so good that they can’t stop. They take so they may take again. This creates one way relationships. I remember a client type who wanted something from every one he ever worked with. Sometimes it was money.

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2. There are those who give, if they get. There is always a cloudy issue of having an attachment to every outcome.

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3. There are those who love to give. It feels so good that they keep giving. I was in this place until I ran out of gas because I forgot to take care of myself. Then I got it.

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4. There are those who open their hearts to receive – a kind of way of going to the gas tank. I create a natural flow so that as I give, I refuel. I am rarely tired or depleted. I give through my coaching, my relationships. I receive through my painting. There is always more. There is always enough.

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What do you have to give or do for those you are relating to without asking for something else? Show that you care by practicing personal random acts of kindness. Be genuine. Yep!  Practice the Golden Rule. Be open to receive when someone offers.

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