Thursday, November 23, 2006


When you send your thank you card this week don't forget to include both your return address and a stamp. Otherwise Canada Post will bill the recipient for the postage - and that's not a message you want to send!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Let's help A. out!

Here's an email I just received - please post a comment and pass along your suggestions as a networking or sales professional!

Dear Mr.Howlett,
I was just reading your most recent blog and I completely 100% agree
with you that emails are just not as effective at establishing a
rapport. But it seems like the alternative routes (having a face to
face meeting, etc) don't work either. As a recent graduate, I have
been looking for jobs. My strategy is to use both methods: I send an
email (or worse complete the online application!!!) and then drop by
their office/company to see if I can speak to someone face to face.
And frankly I can't get past the receptionists!!!! (Thank god some of
those receptionists/greeters are also "Directors of First Impressions"
and some like me and pass my message along!!!! which gives me at
least a little bit of hope after driving all the way from Richmond
Hill to Mississauga to see someone) but otherwise it is difficult to
directly get in touch with someone who is in charge!!!!
I am really in a state of ambivalence regarding technology; from
phones to emails to text messages, technology makes life more and more
impersonal everyday, I wonder what next?!

Anyways just a thought! Have a great day!!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Efficient but not Effective

If you are trying to get someone to change their mind, why the heck are you just using email?I was in a meeting yesterday with one of Canada's largest law firms. They mentioned some of their lawyers receive 2 ,000 to 3,000 emails a day.

Ask the average recruiter to tell you how many emails are in their inbox. Ask your friends how much spam ends up on their screen.

Don't get me wrong, email has its place. Lawyers establish paper-trails, insurance brokers track client conversations, job applicants attach resumes.

But my concept of "Pass the POI" means that it's people first, objects second and ideas third. If your desire is to change someone's mind (rally them to your cause, sell a complex product, fill a seminar) then you need to create advocates. Pick up the phone, sit down over a coffee, have a conversation. Then, follow up with an email to establish the details.

The quickest way to change from an "A friend" to a "B friend" is to stop interacting with people and start sending them impersonal blasts of email jokes and newsflyers (or resumes). Remember, the definition of a "B friend" is someone who contacts you only when they need something and then proceed to talk about themselves. If you are not convinced, think about what you do to 99% of the flyers you receive everyday in your mailbox.

Most of you are reading this blog because you either know me personally or have heard about me from someone else. That came as a result of a lot of face to face meetings, coffees and seminars.

I never make the mistake of thinking this blog or my emails will make people my advocates. Loyalty and advocacy comes from inspiring people to your cause. Neither you nor I can do that by little typing and a lot of sending...pick up the phone or get out the door!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Rate yourself (from a job ad for a CEO position)

Personal Attributes
§ Exhibits high energy and positive proactive attitude
§ Profit-oriented philosophy
§ Creative and courageous risk taker
§ Strong self confidence with ego in check
§ A ‘straight-shooter’ who earns trust through open, honest relationships
§ An intuitive thinker who anticipates issues
§ A natural and effective communicator
§ Believes in being part of a team, coaching and mentoring
§ Tactful and possessing good judgment and political savvy
§ Has attention for critical detail
§ Enjoys handling multiple priorities
§ Has entrepreneurial and broad based interests
§ A genuine people person

The most empowering sentence you'll ever use

I have had two conversations over the last two days with "good guys" who were asking me if I knew of any job opportunities in their industry. Both have taken some hard hits lately (employment, family health issues). It's tough enough dealing with all that and then having to go out and network (aka "beg") for leads from friends, family and associates. Talk about a psychological downer. It's the networking equivalent of sitting on the sidewalk with a Tim Hortons coffee cup looking for change. I've been there.

Because I know them both as nice people and "good guys", I opened up my Rolodex and offered to introduce them to lots of great people and vouch for their character.Networking doesn't mean you have to get someone a job or sell their product; it means you offer to get them a conversation. And at the end of my enthusiastic offerings...I waited...waited for them to ask the most important sentence... Neither of them asked.

So, hard-wired coach that I am, I told them about the question:

And what can I do to help you Dave?

Their response to the question was identical: a blank look.

But Dave, I look at you as this really successful guy and there's nothing I can think of that I can offer you!

Hey guys, everyone needs something. Here are a few of my current challenges:

1. I want to write and book and would be interested in talking with folks who have successfully published or have insights into the publishing world.

2. I am building my speaking business and am always looking for opportunities with companies who need a keynote speaker on networking skills.

3. At MAGNES Group, I would always appreciate an introduction to the CFO or president of a life science company

4. I'm looking for the name of a good electrician in the Oakville area (I need some wiring in my house)

5. I am always looking for ways to promote next my marathon class - Howlett's Heavy Breathers

Asking What is your biggest challenge this week and how can I help you? empowers you and lets you put something in the emotional bank. I appreciate it and so will others.

No matter how low you feel, you possess experiences and contacts that others value.

It turns out one of my friends worked formerly as a car salesman. He said he would be happy to give some tips on car-buying to any business associates of mine. In fact, he could go to a GTA dealrership in person and help them negotiate the price of a new car!

The other friend is a master salesperson in the spa industry and can get me a great “insider price” price for any of my clients and friends who wants to buy a hot tub.

I can use them both to add and reinforce relationships with my customers and clients (and all of you!). That really helps me!

We all have something to offer, we just need to be reminded of that.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The 4th Element

I live in a society that is designed to continually cater to my personal needs. Every day I receive a myriad of marketing messages telling me how I can look younger, stay fitter, be more wealthy and have more sex. If I give in to those missives, I'd be a wrinkle-free, tight-abbed social dilettante. But something would be missing.

Word of mouth is what people say about me when I'm are not in the room. There are 4 elements of being "a good guy" and the 4th is altruism. Giving back. Thinking about others. Caring about the big picture and about others who "aren't in the room."

This Saturday November 11 is Remembrance Day in Canada. Buy and wear a poppy this week. It will let people know you possess that 4th element. Even better, buy a number of poppies and hand them out to friends and associates this week. You will find they are grateful for your thoughtfulness. This was a great suggestion offered up by Diana Birrell of The James Fund (our charity benefactor from last week's Knocking down Silos in Toronto) .

A final thought: When I served in the Canadian Navy, we had a tradition of a toast for every day of the week:

Monday: To our ships
Tuesday: To our men
Wednesday: To ourselves
Thursday: To bloody wars or a sickly season [a chance of promotion if senior officers died!]
Friday: To a willing foe and sea room
Saturday: To wives and lovers
Sunday: To absent friends

When you send your 2 cards this week, think about some absent friends.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Help a Student - they will get you much more in return

People seeking opportunities to network in industry often focus on meeting decision makers and senior management. Building a CRM usually ignores those who are new to industry or perceived to be "without power." Students are generally never thought of as contributors.

However students are an excellent way for the average businessperson to make entry into certain markets (e.g. biotech, finance, accounting, engineering). They present a number of advantages: easy accessibility, knowledge of industry issues, connections via co-op programs to certain companies and alumni. There are also many opportunities to interact and meet students; colleges and universities are continually trying to build bridges to industry.

This is a win-win situation.

Students are appreciative of the opportunity to talk with an industry service provider and usually want one thing: a warm referral to an individual or company. The service provider can then turn a cold call to a prospect account into a request for an informational interview. This changes the perception of the caller from "salesperson" to "helper." In fact, very senior management often take the time to talk to those trying to help a student new to their industry.

In many cases, students end up being "information brokers" to the business person.. Inevitably they will be employed. Everyone remembers the person who helped them in the beginning. The goodwill generated guarantees great connections with their companies.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Try this for a week.

Great word of mouth only comes when people are happy with you. Your resume. Your service. Your appearance. Canadians are tremendously bad at complaining - they don't tell you what you are doing wrong, they just walk away and tell other people.

e.g. I know a really nice guy who has introduced me to some really important people. But over the last month, everytime he would send me an e-mail, it was marked "high importance" (with the little red exclamation mark). Of course I would read it right away and it would drive me nuts that it wasn't of ultimate importance. It seemed he was always yelling wolf on the internet!

Because he's a good guy, I added this to the bottom of an email:

BTW - could I offer a suggestion? You mark many of your emails as "high importance." I'm not sure if you do this a lot but it may dilute the effectiveness of your emails to people. Just a suggestion. D.

Here is his response:

Actually Dave, It may be happening more inadvertently rather than on purpose and thanks for bringing it to my notice bud; I will be more guarded.


Try this for a week:

Ask 10 of your associates or clients: "If I could do one thing better, what would it be?"
Then listen.