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.

    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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    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.

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    RELATED: Attend our Nov. 7 Business Growth Boot Camp: Creating a Culture of Innovation to Drive Business Growth

    Consider the following:

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    • low brand awareness;
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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. 

    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?

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