Category Archives: networking

My Paradox of Choice

I recently listened to a TED talk that confirmed what I always knew. Choice is bad.

So having a lot of choice is bad because you are buried alive under an avalanche of options and it’s impossible to choose any one option.

That’s my life in a nut shell (hello, first world problem) . There are so many possibilities for what I can do with my time and my life that I just can’t make a decision.

This careeraphobia means I’m usually like a random visitor peeking inside any given industry/career/expertise area.

I do internships, I study random courses, I wander into weird niche part time jobs, I hang out in underground establishments and I sign up for things only to back out of them three seconds later.

All these things I do are great in their own ways but I leave as confused and unsure as I was to begin with.

Here is a brief list of the things I’ve studied/done/worked as: media, journalism, economics, marketing, psychology, copy writing, science, accounting, dispensary tech/customer service, hotel concierge, production runner, english teacher, editorial assistant, telemarketing, script writing, linguistics

The upside: I learn a little about a lot

The downside: I learn a little about a lot

So I’m coming to a point where I’m sick to death of jumping in and out of things. Partly because I am a high achiever. Partly because I don’t want to end up like my dad’s best friend Igor –

Igor (who lives in Moscow) also couldn’t make up his mind about what he wanted to do. At one point he was:

A professional tennis player

A professional chess player

A professional table tennis player

A teacher

A guinea pig breeder

None of this brought in much dough so he immigrated to Israel and joined the military service. He soon got bored of that and came back to Russia.

He still breeds guinea pigs, smokes like a chimney and has moved on to a new obsession – coffee brewing. I don’t think that’s likely to bring in much dough either.

So back to my dilema. The final straw for me was an entrepreneurial event I attended last week.

As a dabbler and a commitment-phobic I go to events only to blog about them, to hear inspirational people and to chat casually with people who are actually doing shit.

But an odd thing has been happening lately. I’ve been having the following conversations:

Me: So your business is about X? Tell me more!

Entrepreneur/business owner attendee: Yes my business is about X. Let me tell you about X: XXXXX XXX, XXX: X, X, X, X. XX! XX? – XX! What about you? What’s your business?

Me: Oh, I don’t have a business.

Entrepreneur/business owner attendee: makes this face ——>

………………….Ohhhhhh. So what DO you do?

Me: PR and social media.

Entrepreneur/business owner attendee: But one day you’ll start your own business…..right?

Me: Er….

Entrepreneur/business owner attendee: Well it was nice to meet you. Hopefully the next time I see you you’ll have your own business. (But, secretly they’re thinking —-

In perspective this is not a big deal. This is like the opposite of a big deal. I mean people are dying in other countries, right?

But if I don’t stick to something, whether it’s building a business or doing something else, I’m less likely to be able to help the dying people with my awesomeness, skills and expertise so it’s in everyone’s best interests really for me to find something to focus on.

Over the past two years I’ve met amazing people from all walks of life and they all have one thing in common. They have laser beam focus. They have one path and they don’t deviate from it.

They are freaking awesome. And it’s time for me to be freaking awesome too.

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Why Won’t You Network, Damn It!

As I sat in my first strategy client meeting today, discussing PR tactics and eyeing the Tim Tams someone conveniently placed on the table, the subject of networking came up; or rather, the lack there of in the company. The problem was that the employees in the company networked much less (well, actually, not at all) than senior people in the company. I don’t know if that’s always true so I won’t make a generalisation, but it is definitely true for the people and the companies I’ve had a chance to speak to. Based on this I’ve developed my own (cynical) explanations for networking laziness:

  1. People don’t do things unless there’s something in it for them: as the boss, why should you expect people to network on your behalf? What personal benefit would the staff get out of it? I, for example, love networking but if you ask me to go to a networking event for accountants because you want to me to find you an accountant I’ll refuse to go because I don’t care about accounting and it has no value for me.
  2. People don’t understand reasons for networking and how it ties in to business: When people don’t know why they are doing something, they are less likely to do it, especially if it involves effort and especially if it’s ‘extracurricular’ effort.
  3. Networking is hard: many people find networking outside of their comfort zone. I mean, it’s a bit like being a clown in a circus. You have to be entertaining enough to make sure that some randoms you’ve never met before keep paying attention to you. In the evening. Far far from home. When all you probably want to do is eat, drink, sloth and sleep.
  4. Work life balance: personal circumstances can be a bitch. If you have to suffer through terrifying traffic/stuffy bus rides/cramped  train rides you’ll be justified in telling anyone who tries to force you into networking, to F^$$K off.

To sum it up: People are motivated by their own self interests. ‘What’s in it for me’ makes the world go round. Even those of us who do seemingly selfless humanitarian acts do them out of self interest: gratification, satisfaction, personal sense of self worth, achievement, the feeling of being needed… you get my drift. It always comes down to reasons. And it follows that everything you do should have a good reason…. correction: a reason that’s good for you. So when people think about networking they should think about their whys. And when bosses want their people to network they should think about the team, not about their own goals. Because let’s face it, the best way to get someone to do something, is to give them a reason that’s good for them.

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Pioneering Philanthropy in The Tea Room

Young Professionals Network- Pioneering Philanthropy 

I should really stop being on time for events. Being punctual in the event world is the same as showing up unfashionably early. No one is in their seat, the guest speakers are lost somewhere in the crowd and I end up getting slightly drunk at the bar to pass the time. Of course it helps when the venue is The Tea Room at the QVB and the event is part of the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA), which was the case this time.

This was the first official event organised by UNAA Young Professionals Network – a very fresh initiative which launched late last year. Titled ‘Pioneering Philanthropy’ the event featured four guest speakers from the non profit sector who spoke about the way they had brought about change through their organisations.

The speakers (right to left) were:

Sam Prince- founder of healthy mexican food chain Zambrero  and non profit organisation One Disease at a Time.

Robert Purves – President of World Wildlife Fund Australia and Chairman of Sustainable Business Australia (amongst many other things).

Rachel McLennan- co founder of Private Ancillary Fund Service for Social Ventures Australia and the CEO of Australian Philanthropic Services.

Mike Pritchett- director of Trapdoor Productions and co-founder of Kenya Aid, a non profit organisation established to support the Shikunga area in Kenya.

Philanthropic Insights

phi·lan·thro·py/fəˈlanTHrəpē/ Noun: The desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed esp. by the generous donation of money to good causes. A philanthropic institution; a charity…in case you didn’t know 😉

Each speaker had their own distinct way of looking at things. They spoke about how they got to where they are and what inspired them to create something on their own. Many awesome things were said. Most of them won’t be in here due to the fact that I forgot to record the whole thing. I did however manage to get some insights down thanks to the ancient art of pen and paper.

Sam (on what it means to be an entrepreneur): It’s about seeing a gap in the market, closing your eyes, having the vision and backing yourself to do it.

Rachel (on different forms of philanthropy and change making): A better description of how people can get involved is Time (active involvement), Talent (skills) and Treasure (donations).

Mike (on philanthropy): I don’t smoke a cigar or drive a limo so I don’t think the word ‘philanthropist’ applies.  

Rob (on different forms of philanthropy and change making): People are no longer satisfied with simply sending a cheque to a non profit organisation, they want to be more actively involved by offering their skills and talent.

The Wrap Up

The event organisers

It’s always great to hear inspiring people speak about their experiences and this time was no exception. Judging by the high caliber of the speakers, this is the beginning of a good year for the Young Professionals Network.

I’m curious to see whether the next event will focus on a more specific angle or topic. It may be just my journalism degree speaking but I love it when an event has a specific focus. I find this tends to bring together more like minded people with the same goals and aspirations, which leads to awesome networking opportunities and business opportunity “match making”.

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Networking Like a BOSS

I don’t have a business card. I know business cards are like a compulsory networking item. Yet every time I make a solemn vow to get them printed, something goes terribly wrong.

For example:

1. I procrastinate. I do the dishes, I play with my hair, I lie on the floor, I have a nap, I instagram random stuff like this:

2. I argue with the Kwik Kopy girl about this design:

-Kopy girl: “You want a double sided card? That’ll be about $220 for 100 copies.”

-Me: “It’s alright, just print them for me right now and then I’ll cut them out and glue them together myself. I’m going Lean.”

-Kopy girl: “….Weirdo….”

-Me: “…..What?”

3. I file a complaint on an Office Works girl:

-Me to Office Works girl: “I’ve been in here twice today, I bought the right memory stick and changed the file format like you asked me to do and NOW YOU TELL ME YOU DON’T PRINT BUSINESS CARDS??”

-Me filing a complaint: “She moves like a SLOTH, has no idea as to what she is and isn’t trained to do and she tried to hide behind the printer when I confronted her.”

So there you have it. I’ve given up. I’ve developed a parasitic way of networking. I just hoard people’s business cards and the poor dears get my details through manual labour. So this all may seem a bit stupid, but actually this type of laziness did spark a trend of startups for paperless business cards. I’m not sure if this trend is still going but I’m down with it.

There are a few apps for online business cards and virtual networking, so obviously there are others who are ready to move on from the cave man custom of swapping little pieces of paper.

Have a look:

1. Cardcloud

You can sync the app with Linkedin to create a business card based on your profile info and send it to someone’s email address by typing it in. OR if someone else is using the same app you can beam your details to them wifi style, but only if the app can detect them.

2. Cardflick

Works in a similar way

3.Bizzabo

Is an interesting one: It’s an event based app that allows people to RSVP to events and see who else is attending the same event. People can share their information with each other, eliminating the need for exchanging business cards.

Have a look at the demo.

4. Identyme

A one stop shop for your profile, resume, business card, portfolio and social networks. Not quite a virtual business card, but it’s on the right track.

Here’s a demo.

I’ve actually installed most of these on my phone…but then I realised I was too lazy to bother with them too. However, I’ve come up with the perfect solution for paperless networking.

High fiving.

Seriously. Imagine if you could get any person’s details by high fiving them? High five networking. How awesome is that?  It would make every event so much fun, especially after a few drinks. Drunken high fiving crowds. Sure your hand could get a little sore but that’s a small price to pay for paperless networking, I say.

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