How I Stopped Loathing Networking and Started to Love Kibbitzing

Don’t kvetch about your upcoming networking function. Have fun kibbitzing instead!

The problem with networking is that it’s called networking, which doesn’t sound like a fun thing for humans to do. It does sound like a fun thing for computer equipment to do.

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    The other thing is that everyone’s always doing it and everyone’s supposed to be doing it, which is another reason I always hated it. I don’t want to do what everyone else is doing. It’s been beaten to death.

    So, I stopped calling it networking and started calling it kibbitzing, which is both more accurate and more species-appropriate. Kibbitzing is what old Jewish men do at the schvitz or the deli, usually about something unimportant. Kibbitzing often precedes kvetching, which literally translates to “straining” but is used to describe complaining, usually about your significant other or your good-for-nothing son-in-law.

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    Gamify your networking

    The other problem with networking is that it sometimes feels really contrived. I know it’s totally necessary, but I never got over the feeling that everyone there would rather be somewhere else.  

    So, after changing its name, I started treating it like a game to make it more appealing. I’d go to kibbitzing events and dare myself to walk up to perfect strangers and introduce myself and at the end of the night I’d count the number of business cards I had and see if I beat my personal record for random walk-ups. Then, I’d play this other game where I’d see how long I could go before there was an awkward silence, or before I started talking about myself or my business.

    I went an hour once. It was a proud moment.

    Then, I started paying attention to people who did it better than me and then I took notes. I work with one of those people right now. He’s fantastic. He’s a ninja. I went to a lunch with him a few months ago and it totally upped my game. After that lunch, I went back to the office and wrote this down (for purposes of this post, I’m going to call him Jon Fishman. His name is not Jon Fishman, but the drummer of my favorite band is).

    Listed below are the seven successful tactics Jon Fishman uses when he is in a networki … er … kibbitzing … situation.

    • Jon Fishman fills up almost all his meals and social beverages (breakfast and lunch, coffee and beer, sometimes dinner) with meet-ups with clients, potential clients and contacts. I’ll tell you this: he’s absolutely killing it at the firm.
      
    • Jon Fishman studies up on the other guy before the meeting, then comments during the lunch on things he already knows about that guy.

    • He also studies up on the restaurant he’s going to. I can’t tell if that’s because he’s a foodie or because he’s trying to be prepared for the meeting. I think it’s both. Jon loves to eat good food. That doesn’t hurt.

    • He waits until the end of the meeting to discuss business, if he has business to discuss.

    • When he’s finished with his meeting, he does a recap where he tells the other guy what he (Jon) is going to do for him when he gets back to the office (like make an introduction, or send him an article). Magically, this prompts the other guy to do the same thing. I’m sure that helps both of them better remember those things too.

    • (Incidentally, prior to the meeting, he had already asked himself this question: What can I do for this guy that will help him? If he couldn’t come up with an answer, and sometimes even if he does, Jon asks the other guy what he can do to help him.)

    • When Jon gets back to the office, he then does exactly what he told the other person he was going to do. He makes it his first priority. He doesn’t wait, or return calls, or return emails. He knocks it out. He also uses this as an opportunity to send a thank you or follow-up email to the other person and comment on how much he enjoyed the jovial little kibbitz they just had.
     
    Good stuff, Jon Fishman. Way to kill it.
     
    And that’s how kibbitzing helped me to stop loathing my next networking event.

    Alex Gertsburg is a litigator, corporate lawyer, and head of the Gertsburg Law Firm, a seven-lawyer, full-service business law firm with offices in Cleveland and Chagrin Falls. He is also the founder of CoverMySix, the audit that keeps businesses out of court by repairing the six legal areas most likely to put them into it.  For more information, go to www.gertsburglaw.com and www.covermysix.com.  


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    Next up: How Northeast Ohio Will Keep the Economic Development Momentum Going

    How Northeast Ohio Will Keep the Economic Development Momentum Going

    Since 2010, more than $24 billion in economic development has taken place in Cleveland and the surrounding region. What’s the best way to keep all that positive momentum going? That’s the question posed to the panelists (Chris Ronayne of University Circle; Ann Zoller of LAND Studio; and Vickie Eaton Johnson of the Cleveland Clinic) who took part in the “Region on the Rise” plenary session during BizConCLE on October 13, 2016, which was moderated by the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Deb Janik.

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    Since 2010, more than $24 billion in economic development has taken place in Cleveland and the surrounding region. What’s the best way to keep all that positive momentum going? That’s the question posed to the panelists (Chris Ronayne of University Circle; Ann Zoller of LAND Studio; and Vickie Eaton Johnson of the Cleveland Clinic) who took part in the “Region on the Rise” plenary session during BizConCLE on October 13, 2016, which was moderated by the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Deb Janik.

    Talk during the panel first turned to the development of University Circle, which has seen more than $6 billion in development since 2010, or a quarter of all the development that has happened in and around Cleveland during the past six years. The redevelopment in that area began by convening partners, including civic organizations, developers and residents as well. The plan for this area was marketed to developers, with the idea that University Circle would become a neighborhood once again.

    Pre-Check

    The panelists stressed that a project such as University Circle redevelopment takes time, vision—and the ability to bring together multiple different groups and get them invested in the work to be done. The Cleveland Clinic was a part of this vision with the development of its facilities in Cleveland’s Fairfax neighborhood. Engaging the public was a critical part of the development process, which is why the Clinic reached out to John Hay High School and invited the school’s 97 seniors to be a part of the “topping off” ceremony as construction wrapped. The seniors were asked to inscribe their names on the last piece of steel that was placed during construction. This way, this next generation of Clevelanders would feel a connection to what was happening in their neighborhood.

    Another big project discussed during the session was the redevelopment of Public Square. Again, the panelists agreed that lining up the right people—including philanthropic organizations—was critical in getting the project off the ground. The driving idea behind this project was to make the downtown area of Cleveland more residential. Such work will help achieve the estimate of 20,000 residents living in the Central Business District in Cleveland by 2020.

    Time and again, the panelists remarked that Cleveland and Northeast Ohio must live up to being a region that people want to move to and do not want to move away from. Economic development is obviously one way to accomplish that goal, but to get there requires the many different groups in Cleveland (civic, philanthropic, development, residential, etc.) to continue to work together and build a plan for the region that will continue to retain and attract people to the region.

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    Next up: How One Cleveland Company Turned Innovation into Billions in Revenue

    How One Cleveland Company Turned Innovation into Billions in Revenue

    Learn how a consistent focus on innovation has turned Nottingham Spirk into one of Cleveland’s brightest success stories.

    There’s a reason why business luminaries such as Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Richard Branson and others have placed such a strong emphasis on being trailblazing luminaries in their field. They’ve all found that innovation goes together with business growth.

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    • Nearly two-thirds (63%) of customers want to see new products manufactured, according to a Nielsen study.

    • More than eight out of 10 (84%) of people said it is somewhat or very important that the company they buy from is innovative, according to a Lab42 report.

    • Another 83% of consumers said they’d pay more for technological innovations, also according to Lab42.

    • And 93% of business executives agree that “organic growth through innovation will drive a greater proportion of their revenue,” according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study.

    The innovation experts at Cleveland-based Nottingham Spirk have spent the better part of the last half century as a real-world embodiment of the statistics listed above. The firm has generated more than $50 billion in revenue and more than 1,000 patents for companies worldwide.

    So, how has the Nottingham Spirk team managed to be consistently innovative over the decades? Co-president John Spirk and his son, Director of Innovation Evan Spirk, point to the people the firm has hired as being one big reason. John Spirk says that it’s crucial to bring people onboard at your company who get along and who genuinely enjoy working together. If you do that, he says, people will enjoy their work even more and then innovation will begin to flow naturally.

    RELATED: The 10 Questions to NEVER Ask During a Job Interview

    On Nov. 7, John and Evan Spirk will take part in the next “Business Growth Boot Camp: Creating a Culture of Innovation to Drive Business Growth” where they will address the following questions relating to how companies can make innovation a core tenet of their business:

    • How do you maintain innovation when bringing the next generation of a family into a business?

    • How has Nottingham Spirk managed to be consistently innovative over the years?

    • How has the firm maintained its momentum and continued to grow over time?

    • Is there a certain process in which Nottingham Spirk works with clients that has made the firm successful?

    • What will the next five to 10 years be like at this innovative company?

    Find out how John and Evan Spirk of Nottingham Spirk answer these questions by attending the next “Business Growth Boot Camp: Creating a Culture of Innovation to Drive Business Growth.You can register for the event by clicking here.

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    Next up: How Small Businesses Approach Their Staffing, Marketing Challenges

    How Small Businesses Approach Their Staffing, Marketing Challenges

    How Small Businesses Approach Their Staffing, Marketing Challenges

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    Next up: How to Build Your Brand and Engage with Customers

    How to Build Your Brand and Engage with Customers

    COSE recently reached out to members of its Expert Network to address questions related to his or her field. Featured today is Carol Staiger, business coach and marketing consultant with  Vantage Point Enterprises.

    COSE recently reached out to members of its Expert Network to address questions related to his or her field. Featured today is Carol Staiger, business coach and marketing consultant with  Vantage Point Enterprises.

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    Q: What is the biggest challenge your clients are asking about today, and how are they overcoming that challenge?

    A: Ultimately, clients always ask for a path to an improved situation, whether it be obtaining new clients, improving financial results, or finding relief from an employee issue. As a Business Coach, one of the important benefits I bring to clients is awareness: 1) awareness of aspirations and self-imposed limitations, 2) awareness of options they have for improving their companies or their individual situations, and 3) awareness of resources to keep them from going it alone. 

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    Once clients are really aware of these things, their demeanor changes, they are enthusiastic, a door has been opened.  Yet many fail to walk through to the other side.  Even though this side of the door may be dysfunctional, it is comfortable, it is known, and it works to some degree.  Those who succeed at real change understand that it takes 1) a clear vision of what the improved situation would look like, 2) a clearly-expressed SMART goal, 3) definitive action steps, and 4) practicing new behaviors. 

    Q: Talk about Project Management.  What are four things companies can do to help a project go more smoothly?

    A: Project Management is often thought of as a discipline, one that plans, organizes, motivates and controls resources to reach a deadline-driven goal.  Conversations abound over which methodologies and tools to use in various situations, and who in the organization might be the best (usually engineering) mind to be the Project Manager. Sometimes, the human part of the equation may be given short shrift, and the first three of my recommendations address that.

    1) Are candidates for Project Manager evaluated at all on their communication and people skills?  Why not?  Obviously the project will require the coming together of many minds, hearts and hands to achieve successful completion.  Does this candidate have the right combination of cognitive and social skills to complete the Project in the most effective manner?

    2) The use of electronic communication tools to inform participants about Project information should be supplemented by face-to-face human interaction, even if that communication is accomplished remotely, using tools like Skype. And, yes, scheduling a team meeting may mean building in the cost of a day-long session at a nearby off-site facility, but it will be worthwhile.  The opportunity to interact face-to-face with other team members will enrich the process and create synergy.

    3) Regular reviews with Project Team or the Project Leadership group, will probably occur, and I support this.  But there is no substitute for the Project Leader “checking in” with key individual Project Team participants from time to time.  Is the goal clear?  Does that task make sense? Is there an unanticipated roadblock that this person recognizes?  It’s intelligence like this that informs the Project Manager’s next steps.

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    Next up: Don't Lead Them On: How to Capture Potential Customers’ Attention and Keep It

    Don't Lead Them On: How to Capture Potential Customers’ Attention and Keep It

    Your customers are bombarded daily with all kinds of media. How do you get your message to stand out and maximize your interaction with your audience?


    Lead generation in the digital era can seem easier than the days of paper mailings, cold calls and door-to-door visits. While there’s certainly benefits to reaching potential customers on the platforms they are already using, there’s also an oversaturation of digital media coming at them every day. A user skipping over your ad in favor of a meme might seem likely but it’s not always the case. Digital lead generation does work! When you do get a user to click through on one of your digital ads, on your paid search listing or a link in an email, this is your opportunity to maximize the interaction and ensure that potential customer goes from a click to a conversion. 


    What is your end game?

    When you are starting a lead generation campaign, you need to define the goal. Ask yourself, what do I want users to do? The answer to this question is what drives content creation. The goal will also determine how you measure results. If gathering emails for your list is the goal then doing a product campaign to drive sales wouldn’t be the right fit. In this case you would measure sign-ups rather than sales. Think about what you want your potential customers to do and make it easy for them to do it. 

    Keep it simple

    The call to action (or CTA) should be clear from the first glance. The potential customer should have an idea of what they are going to get when they click on your ad. Though click-bait headlines might work for tabloids and YouTube videos, it’s not a great idea for marketing because misled people are unlikely to engage with your content again. You want to establish trust. If you are discussing a product and your intention is for people to buy that product, the link should go to the product listing. Don’t make people hunt for content. You have a short window to capture their attention. Capitalize on that! 

    Eliminate distractions

    Gifs, memes and viral videos rule the Internet, but do they have a place in marketing? Maybe. Are they always a good idea for targeted lead generation? Not necessarily. Getting a lot of eyes on your content can be amazing for brand exposure but eyes don’t always turn into buys. It’s more productive to focus on targeting potential customers. The CTA should be easy to read and it should be obvious what you want them to do. Things like “sign up here” or “read more” are likely to lead to clicks that turn into conversions. Fooling folks into clicking may lead to views but you want views from people who want to see your content. 

    Gated content

    Gated content refers to the idea that users must enter their email or in some cases, pay to access what you’ve created. Gated content is particularly popular in B2B content marketing. Writing whitepapers, blog posts, articles or creating how-to videos that inform your audience in a relevant way can be a way to not only establish yourself as a trusted expert in your industry but to also generate new leads. While it may be tempting to charge for gated content (and you totally can), that might be a short-term plan. The long game would be creating a simple form to gather emails, engage with those people and target campaigns based on their behavior. Gated content is one way to gauge what potential customers are interested in and then tailor campaigns to fit that behavior. 

    Always get the email

    When you are capturing contact information to generate a lead, of course, it would be nice to have all the information you want to know about your customer right there from the beginning. But if the only thing you can capture from a lead is their email then you’re off to a great start. With an email address, you can create a digital marketing campaign to measure what they are interested and tailor content to fit their needs. To do that, you need to get their email and you don’t want to overwhelm them in the process. Keep it simple! If you have multiple fields on your form, try making only the email entry required – that way it’s up to the person if they want to provide more. You don’t want to lose the email because you required too much unnecessary information up front. You can always engage the lead later by having them fill out a profile or take a survey. Allow them to warm up to you with a simple welcome email first. 

    The best way to look at digital lead generation is like a relationship. You often must court the person. They want to know what you’re about before they invest in you. They want to know that you are worth their time and energy. At the beginning, an email address may be all they are willing to provide but that’s enough to get you started on the courtship. Always keep in mind that the user on the other side of the screen isn't just a potential lead, they are a person. Invest in the time to figure out how to talk to them. Unlike that awkward eHarmony date, you won’t regret it! 

    Marisa Pisani, director of marketing strategy and automation at Adcom, spends her days creating and executing data-driven strategies to drive measurable results for Adcom’s diverse group of clients. Adcom specializes in Brand Building & Positioning, Generating Demand & Conversion, and Marketing Consulting.



     

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