Time to Meet and Greet!

Here’s an amazing article from The Ladders Marc Cendella which I wanted to share with you. It’s time to get out and meet and greet to help your career! It’s all about the networking!

“A phone’s never landed you a job, a promotion, a raise, or a new customer, yet you might allocate more of your day to kissing up to your device — updating apps, clearing calendars, jumping at every new email alert — than to building up relationships with your peers. And that’s a problem.”

You need to ask yourself if your awesome technology knowledge is getting in the way of your getting ahead. Here are three reminders:
Talk to people.  If you only interact with your fellow human beings through technology, you’re really missing out. Real people have a great “user interface” — they smile, laugh, frown, generate unique and sometimes surprising insights, and can give you instantaneous feedback on their reactions. Real people can also solve problems, agree to quit being a complete hassle, slip you the critical bit of info you were missing, or be spontaneously impressed by your fantastic-ness. Ya never know. If you insist on texting-emailing-facebooking as the only way you’ll connect with others, you’ll miss out on a good part of your career (and life’s great enjoyments, too). So more often than you’re comfortable with — put down the phone, close the laptop, and go talk to people and see if that doesn’t work out better for you. Stop optimizing.

Setting up your voicemail to email you the text of your latest messages is a neato trick.  Downloading the app that pings you every time your Google alert mentions your name within 100 words of “technology-savvy” is spiffy. And connecting your printer to your phone to your iPad to your desktop so that you can wirelessly print your resume from the beach house is awesome. But all your optimizing is really just goofing off, procrastinating, and avoiding dealing with the pain of going through your real “to do” list.
Quit kidding yourself. Tickling your tech toys is high-tech half-gassing it. Put the gadgets down and put yourself back to productive work.
See the real world.

Reading industry blogs, watching focus groups on your laptop, and making killer pie charts of industry trends can give you a command of the industry heights.
But you’ll be missing out on the devil. He’s in the details, it’s known. And you can’t get a feel for the details if your face is grinding a screen all day.
“Management by walking around” became a popular catchphrase to get comfy desk-dwelling Mad Men out of their chairs to mingle with the plebs.
Today, let’s call it, “experience by closing down”… power down the iPhone, close the lid on the laptop, and put away the Kindle.
When you actually let go of the technology intermediary, what do you observe about how people use your product, talk about industry problems, or collaborate to achieve goals? Just watching people, and chatting with them about what they’re really hoping to achieve, can be eye-opening.
Most professionals find a world of difference between their personal observations and conclusions based on digitally digesting industry ephemera.
Turn off the power and turn on your insight. You’ll be better for it.”

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A TALE OF TWO COMPANIES (AND VISITS TO NEW YORK)

After graduating college with a degree in broadcasting, in the early 1990s, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. Months of driving around Texas to various television stations left me with an empty tank of gas, little money in the bank, and a lot of rejection from news directors. Ethnic reporters were “in”, and I was just too white with too little experience and nobody willing to give me a chance. 

So, one afternoon, I wrote down a list of all the companies I wanted to work for as well as listed of all the people I knew that worked in the same city as those companies, whom I could use to network and see if they had any contacts I could, well, contact. 

Viacom, the parent company of both MTV networks and VH-1, was at the top of my list. If I wasn’t going to work as a news reporter, I could darn well work as an entertainment reporter, producer, or coffee maker in New York. The details of how I was going to afford to live there, or even where I was going to live, hadn’t entered the picture yet. I just knew I needed to move and would regret not trying!

MTV Networks

I wrote a letter to the chairman of Viacom, Sumner Redstone, who in turn passed my inquiry to Tom Freston, who in turn passed my letter to a Dwight Tierney, a VP of Marketing. His administrative assistant was a real piece of work, not the nicest person on the phone. But, in reflection, I suppose she was just protecting her boss. Or maybe she really was a real dragon. After several months of back-and-forth phone calls (I don’t think there was email back then), as well as a video audition tape, and many clever in-the-mail gifts, I decided it was better if I flew to New York to try and score an interview with Mr. Tierney. Of course, I didn’t have one when I flew to New York with my friend Suzanne, but ingenuity sometimes leads to great results.

While Suzanne was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art one afternoon, I went to Dean and Deluca, dressed in a suit, borrowed one of their aprons, bought a large glass of iced tea and a brownie, which I put into a box with my resume, cover letter, and hotel information and the bottom, and proceeded to take them to the delivery entrance of the Viacom building. 

This was before September 11, so security proceeded to assume I was a delivery man and took me to Dwight Tierney’s office, where I presented my box of goodies to his very surprised secretary. Unfortunately, he was out of the office, but a week after I returned home to Texas, I was invited to return to New York to meet with Mr. Tierney, which I did, as he was impressed by my efforts. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a job for me, despite all of my suggestions of what I could do for the company and his department, but in the end, I felt the satisfaction of knowing I tried my best, pursued every avenue, made all the necessary calls, and never gave up. You might not always get the job, but you will definitely have expanded your career network!

VH-1

A few years later, and having built up my career network, I decided to see if I could get an informational interview with the Director of Marketing for VH-1. As it turned out, my wonderful friend Kimberly, who was working as a corporate concierge in Manhattan, kindly sent me his contact information, along with the contact information for many other people she had met while at various cocktail parties and work functions. Cold calling is never easy, but I did manage get him on the phone (and not hang up). It’s always a good idea to have some sort of reason to be calling a person, and luckily he remembered Kimberly and was happy to set up a time for us to meet for half an hour to discuss his career and VH-1.

I flew to New York, with my updated resume (just in case he wanted to see it). Our conversation was informative and professional, but despite his high position, he did take the time to discuss what it took to get a job at VH-1, and other interesting facets of his career. Remember, an informational interview is always about the person you are speaking to, unless at some point they do ask to see your resume. 

After our chat, he told me to please keep in touch (there wasn’t an opening in his department), which I did for several years, until we eventually we lost touch. Did I regret going to New York twice in search of a job with Viacom? Absolutely not! Was I a bit disappointed that I didn’t get a job? Certainly, but because I did what I wanted to do, and TRIED, it gave me the courage to ask for other informational interviews, be bolder on the phone, learn better interview techniques, and allowed me to have more confidence than I’d ever had before.

Remember, keep on keeping on!