Monday, December 17, 2007

Thank-you Cards - Feedback from the Field


The Howlett Method 101! Today I received my first hand written thank you card! Dave people are listening to you…. Be very , very afraid…

Last week another member of our sales team asked for my help… I dunno.. I guess he thinks I may know a thing or two about hospitality sales….(I sure fooled him eh!) today in picking up my mail.. there was a handwritten thank you card from my colleague thanking me for my time, my insight and how I had helped him …. It wasn’t so much that he had actually taken the time to thank me but the thought behind it! I know that he took your course, he knows that I know this is a Howlett method. Regardless, it doesn’t change the fact that the guy listened, took action and truly did a nice thing for someone else … I wasn’t having a particularly good day.. this made me feel good! Amazing the power of a hand written thank you… He went from a B list to A list in a fast hurry.. I’d be happy to help the guy in a heartbeat!

Dave, just wanted to drop a note (and you know I’d hand write it but geeze we’ve been chatting so much lately I’d go broke with postage!) to let you know the impact you are having… I will say this.. thanks for sharing your knowledge… people do listen to what you have to say.. it’s a great message and even if very few do take the time to actually send makes the people receiving them feel that much better even if for a little while…. Now that’s making the world a better place!!


Stephen Ing
Senior Sales Manager
The Westin Bayshore, Vancouver


Dear Dave,
I just wanted to let you know that I've been sending 'thank-you' cards for a few months now. I want to thank you for teaching me to do so because I have now truly realized how much of an impact a sincere gesture makes. I send my godmother one for all the years of birthday gifts I've received and she was so moved she said no one had ever sent her a card like that before. On another occasion I received a thank-you card for a thank-you card I had written. That was a nice surprise! Anyways I have now started buying boxes of thank-you cards and making up for the years I never sent them. My friends think I'm obsessed but I think they secretly love the cards they get from me.

Sincerely, Maggie Dys
Undergraduate, University of Waterloo

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Let's Help N. out!

Hi Dave I was at your Brock presentation last week and I thought it was just amazing. I've started to notice changes in myself in just one week. I'm also going out and buying cards. I was just wondering what are some good questions to ask in an information interview? I've thought about it and I have an information interview set up next week but I want some really good questions that will start to help me connect. The job I'm getting information on is a Private banker. If you could please help that would be greatly appreciated.Thank you. N.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

KDS Target Market and the thoughtfulness of others

I had the opportunity to conduct a Knocking down Silos at the University of Guelph last week and had two associates (Jennifer Taylor and Kelly Morse) who came up from St. Catherines to photograph the event. Remember my point about needing accountability buddies? These are people in your life who see things about you with a fresh pair of eyes.
Kelly sent me an email and an additional photo and pointed out the coincidence of the 2 gentlemen sitting in my talk. Same positioning but different clothes, shoes and even watches.

This insight really captures for me the types of people who come to KDS.
Thanks Kelly for your observations; we all need people to noitice the details around us.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

RHB Sightings!

Have you attended a Knocking down Silos? Have you heard the story about Dr. Adi Treasurywala RHB?

Here's some nice feedback from a KDS last night:

I really enjoyed your presentation last night. It would seem to me that 'Knocking Down Silos' is about much more than finding a job or new business, it is an elegant reminder of the interconnectedness of the human experience.

RHB connects us all. Rear windows stickers are now available online at (pins etc coming soon) Put one on the rear window of your car and tell us the story when you see one on the highway! It could get you the perfect job, sale and friendship!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Knocking down Silos and "Third Gear" What's your feedback?

Hi Folks,

It's been two years since I started giving "Knockiing down Silos" talks across North America. I started these originally as seminars on how to network for the perfect job or word-of-mouth sale but I am starting to see some interesting feedback (please see below as examples). I would value your thoughts and ideas on what you got from my talk and how and where you think I should take it.



Tuesday, October 16, 2007

He was a "good guy"

Some blogs don't need to be long.

Dan Hawkins from Farmlink out in Swift Current, Saskatchewan heard one of my Knocking down Silos talks this past Spring. I tell folks to live your life so people call you a "good guy" when you're not in the room.

Dan saw this marker embedded in the stone sign beside the 15th hole at a local golf course and was kind enough to send along a photo.

Thanks Dan. Thanks Scoof.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Culture Clash - let's help H out!

I am a first year MBA student I was wondering if I should go to your KDS just for this session, but I think I made the right decision to attend. I think you are very good at what you are doing and was impressed by the way you conveyed the message.

Unfortunately I was not able to talk to you after the session. I have a question that keeps bothering me all the time, and was hoping you might have a suggestion about how to deal with it. I remember you mentioning last evening that most of the business decisions take place at the golf course. I totally agree with you.

But here’s what I have noticed with me, I can talk for hours about business but when it comes to talking about that other things like golf or anything other than work, I kind of get quiet and that’s one of the reasons people see me as a boring person, they just hang out with me when there is work and then after that they tend to be with their own gang.

I have tried hard to fit in but I don’t know if there is something that I should do. Added to that whenever I am offered an invite to go out by my colleagues, I kind of reject the offer (1). Because I am a woman from India and not used to hanging out in bars late in the night (2) I don’t drink, dance, smoke etc. so I have noticed that colleagues that do the above tend to bond better and have much more to share than me.

Even though I have better talents to perform in my job, I have noticed that my bosses tend to prefer hanging out with the peers that can party.

I don’t want to change my lifestyle and start drinkng and doing all the other stuff just to go up the organization, however I am sure that there might be other things that people can do to fit in. Could you please provide me with any insights?

I really think that is one of the most difficult challenges for me in the work place and I am doing a lot of trial and errors that so far has not resulted in any permanent success. I would definitely like to know what you have to say about this situation whenever you can afford to write to me.

Use Knocking down Silos to help you in your career!

Over the next Month, I'll be holding 4 "Knocking Down Silos" in Hamilton, Toronto, Waterloo and Guelph. The schedule and PDF are here.

Many people use "Knocking down Silos" as a business development tool. Can I show you how to do this as well? It may help you get more sales or receive that great job offer.

If you have been to a "Knocking down Silos" event, you know it is an interactive evening that reviews the basics of proper networking behaviour. Hundreds of people from different industries show up to learn how to increase their effectiveness in the business (and personal) world.

Every 20 minutes, people have to turn to the person next to them and ask key questions (e.g. "what's your biggest challenge and how can I help you?). Here is a video preview. Who would you like sitting next to you when they ask you that question? Then invite them!

Send the PDF for the event to people you either know or wish to get to know better. These could be clients, prospects, key industry people, potential bosses. Many people in life know the importance of networking but have never been shown how to do it. You can simply forward the email with your endorsement.



****I am using KDS as a showcase for meeting planners. If you know any, I would really appreciate you inviting them to come as your guest***

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Mississauga Knocking down Silos Continues!

If you were one of the 121 participants at Knocking Down Silos at UTM on September 15, thanks so much for coming...and this posting is for you!

I want to provide you with an interactive way to continue to provide value to people in attendence who you didn't meet.
Please click "comments" below and post a comment:
- tell us a little bit about who you are and what you got out of the KDS evening.
- tell us what you do for fun on weekends
- tell us your greatest challenge so we can help you (be specific eg use a top 10 list)
- offer to help the rest of us

Then check back on this blog to help others and to see who is offering to help you.

The Summary PDF for the evening is here.

Let's keep the buzz going until the next KDS!


Friday, August 24, 2007

Let's help Sharon out!

(Sharon has been tremendous help to me by designed Knocking down Silos flyers for the last year - let's help her out!)

I was wondering if you could now help me; do you know anyone through
your vast network of contacts, who may be able to help/advise/guide me
in choosing a window replacement company for my home? I know this is
a bit of an odd request, but I have had 5 window quotes to date, and
am thoroughly confused at all the products available and the range in
quotes that I have received. I am looking for someone in the industry
who will be able to provide me with an unbiased opinion on what I
should be looking for in terms of product, and who can make some
recommendations of companies that are honest and fair.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Good enough 500 years ago - good enough today!

I just returned from a 2 week trip to Europe. My wife and I competed in Ironman Austria and then took in the sights and sounds of Italy. Wandering through the incredibly ornate halls of the Palazzo Pitti (aka the Pitti Palace that was built in Florence for the Medici family) I spotted an inscription high up on the painted ceiling: rado tu parla e sii brevi et arguto

An sign nearby revealed: It was here that the public audiences took place. After waiting in the antichamber, visitors were ushered into this room to be received by the Grand Duke, seated on his throne and surrounded by the court. Only the sovereign remained seated, everyone else was obliged to stand in his presence. Since so many people were received at a time, the room had practically no furniture apart from the throne. A motto, above the niche of the painted staircase, presumably addressed to those about to speak to the Grand Duke, reads:

rado tu parla e sii brevi et arguto

[talk little, and be brief and be witty]

A great piece of advice for all ages!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Build your Rolodex Fast - and for a good cause

On Thursday June 21, I am MC-ing the Diamonds and Dynamite Gala for Leadership Peel in Mississauga, Ontario.

$75 gets you in the door and a chance to rub shoulders with with influential people. (description below)

The thing about networking is that no one does it until they need to...and then you come off looking desperate. Put your suit on, sign up for a ticket and meet some people who may change your life. And let me know if you are coming, I'll introduce you around!

Speakers include: Art Lockhart, proponent of restorative justice, founder of The Gatehouse (a safe environment where abused children can talk) and CAVE (that re-directs graffiti artist talent to beautify neighbourhoods); Michael Clarke, recipient of the Order of Canada for his work with disenfranchised people, founder of The DAM Youth Drop-in in Mississauga (that dams the flow of youth to the predatory cities) and former Peel Police investigator; Mike Rosenberg - The Flexible Thinker and founder of Leadership Peel; Bonnie Crombie, Gala Chair for Credit Valley Hospital, past Vice-Chair of Mayor McCallion’s Task Force on the Arts and GTA Co-Chair of Michael Ignatieff's Leadership Campaign. Bonnie is running for MP in Mississauga-Streetsville in the next federal election.

Master of Ceremonies is: Dave Howlett, VP Corporate Development in Life sciences for MAGNES Group, former naval officer, distinguished toastmaster, commercial diver, scuba & marathon trainer. Dave has completed 12 marathons and 3 Ironman Triathlons and is host of the GTA’s celebrated KNOCKING DOWN SILOS networking seminars.

National anthem will be sung by Savithri Sastri and entertainment provided by dancing duo: Mercedes Bernardez (Argentinian ballet master and new Canadian) and visiting Cuban choreographer, Jose Carret, who will perform salsa.

Are "good guys" born or are they made?

"More men become good through practice than by nature"

Democritus of Abdera

Friday, June 01, 2007

Maintaining your Network and keeping it warm

Hi Dave:

It has been a little while since I have touched base with you. I hope everything is going well for you, personally and professionally. I am doing well, but having some difficulty trying to maintain my network, though I did put 2 former colleagues in touch with a head hunter. I continue to average 2 thank you cards a week, but sometime it is 4 one week and 0 the next.

Please let me know if there is anything that I can do. Otherwise, I will endeavour to stay in touch from time to time.



Hey Doug - great to hear from you. In fact, this is such a great topic, I'll put you in my blog today. You're absolutely right to be convinced of the importance of maintaining your network.

There is a tendency to let your Rolodex "cool-off" until you need something (e.g. sales, a job etc) and then you are perceived as a "B" friend (people only hear from you when you need something). The trick is to touch (or "ping" as my friend Glen Davis says) folks occasionally and give them something of value.

If you think about it, people do this naturally by calling "just to say hi", emailing a joke, forwarding a clipping or inviting someone out to play golf.

May I offer one other way?

If you are reading this blog, you likely have attended one of my Knocking down Silo events.

I'm just planning a series of Knocking down Silos across Canada.

One way to keep your networking going is to invite them to come to one of these interactive evenings. If they come, you know they will receive huge value. meet lots of interesting people to expand their own network. Even if they can't make it, talking about KDS gives you an excuse to call if you haven't "pinged" them in a long time.

And Doug, good for you for keeping those cards going. That kind of thing makes you a better person and lets your friends, family and clients know you appreciate them. It's been 6 months since you and I met and I'm impressed you have made this part of your lifestyle.

You're definitely "a good guy."



Thursday, May 24, 2007

Got an opinion on this question? Let's help K. out!

Hey Gang,

Whether you are a student, a service profider or a decision maker, how do you feel about elevator pitches? Below is an email I just received. Do you use them, find them effective, or respond when someone else gives you one? Let's help K. out!


Dear Dave,

I just came back from a seminar on how to give a 30 second elevator pitch. But it feels very stiff and insincere and I don't feel comfortable doing it. Do you use elevator pitches?

Signed K.


Friday, May 18, 2007

It's Friday - do you have your cards?

Photo was in my in-box this morning; sent to me by Dr. Sam Lee: a "good guy."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Thank you cards: Pick a level

For those of you who have attended a Knocking down Silos event, you understand the power and poignancy of a sincere, specific and unexpected thank you card. Let me frame that gesture under my philosophy of three levels:

Level 1: What's in it for me? Not sending a card. Employees should perform because that is their job. Children should behave because that is their responsibility. Expressing appreciation is superfluous.

Level 2: I help you, you help me. Reciprocity. Sending a thank-you card (e.g. birthdays, job performance, anniversaries, client's purchases etc) with the expectation that something will occur in return. The expectation is that a happy client/family member will appreciate your gesture and reciprocate in the future (e.g. with more business, better behaviour, a job-offer). See as an example of sending a card as Level 2 in networking.

Level 2 is how many world governments work. I'll let your goods enter my market tariff-free and in return you allow our access into your market.

Level 3: Generosity without expectation of gratitude. Sending a "just-because" thank you card to acknowledge the works of others and not demanding reciprication.
Below is an example of a wonderful note crafted by "a good guy" to a former mentor. Anonymity has been preserved but the message is intact:
Dear Paul,
No matter where a person is in their life, and no matter how much where they are is about how they "be", there are always an untold number of contributions that other people make to them along the way – especially if one is open to receiving/recognizing/using those contributions.

I could pick any number of instances of contributions you have made to me, but the one that really stands out is the way you nurtured courage for my vision. The two-plus years in 2001-02 we spent trying to crack the Radical Results /Realtime Enterprise work has had a profound impact in my work and vision that I have only just begun to realize.

You taught me about disruption, about driving ideas toward their longer-range effect, about speaking about what will happen instead about what could happen, about profound technology and change cycles, about looking for where the money will land, about knowing that an idea can be right even though you are alone in it. (I think BEA would have done better if they hired you directly in 2002. By now they've missed the crown).

For over a thousand mornings from 2003 to late 2006, I woke up and said: "This can't work, it is too big, too complicated, the vast majority is telling me it can't work, and I have no money to staff this". It sometimes took 10 minutes, sometimes an hour to shake it off, to know that all real change is disruptive and is generated by a person with a vision and a person for whom a big employer would be a detriment. Of course the ontological tools I use to reject defeat are from my work at Landmark, but the intellectual and structural tools to go back to work the same day, every day, and to write, solve and innovate – i.e. to make some actual progress – came from a thousand hours with you.

You have provided a critical piece to Skymeter, without which this would not be happened. And it is happening.

Thank You.
With Gratitude and Love,

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Sometimes it's the little things that count.

I had a great phone conversation this morning with C: a VP who attended a recent Knocking down Silos talk I did 2 weeks ago for a major Canadian Financial Institution.

He related that he was getting on an elevator this morning and as the doors were closing, he saw someone racing for the door. C. held the doors open and was thanked with a smile and the phrase:

Thanks, you restored my faith in humanity!

If you want to have people like you, trust you, keep you top of mind, promote you, send you business and be your advocates...sometimes it's as simple as waiting a few seconds and holding open a door.

KDS Level Two: To attract success, you need to stop thinking about yourself and serve others.

And besides - doesn't it feel good when you get that smile!?

Friday, May 04, 2007

On marathon running and Silos

Dear Dave,

Thanks for mentioning what you did about the slower runners; sometimes I get intimidated by all the talk of Boston qualifiers and personal bests and I don't feel I belong among the speedy runners.

Signed First Timer,

Dear FT,

You know, in my talks across North America I speak about the concept of "silos". We tend to classify other people and put them in silos or catagories and that limits us in many ways.
We see a fast runner and characterize them as "elite". We see someone going for a personal best and we rationalize "I could never do that, they must be intense."
This tendency is reinforced by our desire to stick with people who look, sound and run at the same speed. That's why 4:30 marathoners tend to stick together and 3:45 marathoners have the same inclination (it's no different in society, just look at how people form religions, political parties, sports teams and then classify others because they are ...different).

In a marathon class (as in business and life ), I define courage as someone who perseveres through adversity.

I admire "a speedy runner" because (independent of their natural talent and genetics) they have stuck to a plan, watched their nutrition and spent a lot of lonely hours on their own running towards a goal. For example, did you know it took one of our runners 5 marathons to qualify for Boston and that she is always astonished when she hears someone refer to her as an "elite"?

I admire a first time marathon runner for exactly the same reason: they are chasing a goal. And for one more reason as well. Did you know that a lot of faster runners cannot physically run for the length of time some of you can? Did you hear Joe's comments when he had to lead the 4 hour pace group on a long run? It was very difficult on his body to run at that pace for such a long period of time. When a 3:15 marathoners comes across the finishing line, they are very tired. But some of you will be running for another 2-3 hours as well! They literally cannot do what some of you will be doing.

The people I truly admire the most are the people who resist the silo mentality. They have the spirit to run towards a dream but they take the time to speak with the people just starting their own dream. Their speed AND their empathy are the reasons they inspire you. I call them "good guys."

One last thought for all of you. As you get faster, fitter and firmer, you will be tempted to hang around others who are even more fast, fit and firmer.
You'll start to build your own silo. Others will be reluctant to speak with you... they'll classify you as an elite and then they will start to judge you.
So don't just hang around your one or two friends. Make an effort to speak to people ourside your group. And whether they are in another pace group, are of another age, a religion or a nationality...I'll bet you will find you have more in common that you reaize.

You just need to make the effort.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Every once in awhile

For those of you who have attended one of my Knocking down Silos talks, you will understand my concept of "the good guy." This is a gender neutral quality that epitomizes knowledge, personality, reliability and altruism. It is my firm conviction that human history is populated by great people (aka "good guys") who inspire others to follow them by their vision and their desire to serve others.

Humans are hard-wired to talk about others and a "good-guy reputation" is invaluable whether finding a job, leading a company, looking for investors or asking others to follow you over the ramparts and into a hail of bullets.

But every once in awhile you meet the opposite. An associate recently related how his company has severed their professional relationship with a client company precisely because of the personality of its leader.

In his words, " this guy's personality is worth a mention in the next KDS as to how to run a company into the ground by ticking off service providers and his own people!!"

Further inquiry reveals a president who is brilliant in his field but arrogant, abrupt and inconsiderate with employees and his service providers. It's an interesting insight that, although bricks and mortar have no personality, a company actually takes on the personality of its leader.

Does his ego allow him to look in the mirror and admit that his personality is affecting his bottom line?

Does he realize that his employees and service providers (bankers, accountants, lawyers, recruiter etc) will slam the book on his company's file at 5pm on a Friday afternoon as they won't go that extra mile when their spouse and kids are asking them to come home?

Does he blame the turnover and low morale in his company on himself or does he look for external factors?

Do the shareholders in his company know that his personality is affecting the bottom line?

Moral of the story: 20% of society is made up of "good guys" 79% are people who have the ability to achieve that persona (especially if they come to Knocking down Silos!) But every once in awhile you meet a psycho. Learn from them, be cautious of them, but don't let them affect how you treat the rest of society.

Or as my dad ( a 30 year veteran of the Canadian military) would say of an inept officer:

The only way anyone would follow that out of curiosity.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Knocking down Silos Continues!

If you were one of the 161 participants at Knocking Down Silos at the Living Arts Centre on April 23, thanks so much for coming...and this posting is for you!

I just finished the book "Wikinomics" (how mass collaboration changes everything) and I would like to try something new.

I want to provide you with an interactive way to continue to provide value to people in attendence who you didn't meet.
Please click "comments" below and post a comment:

- tell us a little bit about who you are and what you got out of the KDS evening.

- tell us what you do for fun on weekends

- tell us your greatest challenge so we can help you (be specific eg use a top 10 list)

- offer to help the rest of us

Then check back on this blog to help others and to see who is offering to help you. (you may or may not choose to leave your contact information - everyone at the seminar should have your email and phone number).

The Summary PDF for the evening is here. More on strategic networking and questions to ask when people introduce you to folks on your " hit list are here.
My mailing address (in case you need it) is
Dave Howlett
c/ The MAGNES Group
1540 Cornwall Rd Ste 100
Oakville, ON
L6J 7W5
905 845 9793 x322
Let's keep the buzz going until the next KDS!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

There's only so many people...

Kelly Osborne, as quoted by Sarah Hampson in the Globe and Mail 25 March, 2007:

And I'd pretend that I was big and tough by having a big mouth and telling everyone to f*** off, but there's only so many people that you can tell to f*** off and say you hate before there's no one left, and you realize, well, maybe it's me that's the asshole, not them.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Using Knocking down Silos as a Business Development Tool

On April 23, in Mississauga, we are running another "Knocking Down Silos" and inviting the Life Science Community to attend. Many of the industry associates I know use "Knocking down Silos" as a business development tool. Can I show you how to do this as well?

It may help you get more sales or receive that great job offer. If you have been to a "Knocking down Silos" event, you know it is an interactive evening that reviews the basics of proper networking behaviour. Hundreds of people show up to learn how to increase their effectiveness in the business (and personal) world.

Every 20 minutes, people have to turn to the person next to them and ask key questions (e.g. "what's your biggest challenge and how can I help you?). Here is a video preview. Who would you like sitting next to you when they ask you that question? Then invite them!

1. Download the PDF of the April 23 Event.
This event is filling fast, please ensure you have registered.

2. Send the PDF to people you either know or wish to get to know better. These could be clients, prospects, key industry people, potential bosses. Many people in life science know the importance of networking but have never been shown how to do it.

You can simply forward the email with your endorsement.

Here's an paraphrased email I saw come across my desk from Peter West:

Normally I don’t send out these types of flyers to marketing events, but I will make an exception for Howlett’s talk on networking skills called “Knocking down Silos”

Here's another on a bulletin board by Jim Love - another "good guy!"

If you haven't seen Howlett on Networking, you have missed something . You may still be able to get seats. Mention my name. It might help.

OR You can ask a few clients to come as your personal guests. Of course, you will need to pick up the entry fee.

3. Sit next to your key people and watch what happens.The best part of this strategy is that even if your people can't make it to KDS, getting an invitation from you lets them know you were thinking about them. (it keeps you top of mind). And that's one of the best ways to get great word of mouth...offering value when you touch someone... being an "A" friend!

Below are a few emails that you may get from your clients afterwards.

I really enjoyed Dave's talk and I learned some very useful ways of thinking about how I interact with people. Thanks for sending me the invitation.

I am writing this email to thank you for inviting me to Dave's Talk. It was a wonderful, professional, and enthusiastic presentation in McMaster University last night. Networking has always been a little scary for me. I always have a hard time knowing where to start and what approach to take. I am definitely going to be giving out more compliments now!

Thanks for bugging me to go. That was an amazing speech Tuesday night. Man, it was as long as a feature Hollywood film! It's amazing that he can find enough content to keep people engaged like that.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Don't use my name - how would you respond?

Sometimes the danger of networking is that it reveals some hidden truths or mysteries...

Two years ago, I approached a friend of mine to find out whether he could introduce me to the president of his company. I had know P. for about 8 years in a variety of capacities (sports, Toastmasters) and felt we had a good enough rapport for me to ask him for a referral. I had just started working for my current company and needed to make some connections.

My take on word-of-mouth networking is that it's all about your personality, not your company or product. If you have proved your worth as a "good guy" or "nice person" then your friends and associates know you won't embarass them or endanger their relationships by introducing you to their contacts.

This is how the conversation went:

Dave: You work for ______________, don't you?

P: Yes.

(I asked a series of questions about his company, their products, their challenges etc)

Dave: You know, I would really like to do business with your company, is there a chance you could ask your boss to if he would take my call and give me a few minutes of his time? I don;t expect you to sell me or my product, but is it possible for you to give me an introduction?

P: I don't feel comfortable doing that.

Dave: Oh. Is there a reason why not?

P: I don't feel comfortable doing that.

Dave: OK

Today, I lectured at Seneca College and afterward had a student ask me a similar question. She mentioned she had asked her friends if they would introduce her to their bosses and their response was: "Sure, you can call them, but don't use my name."

How do YOU interpret the "don't use my name" response?

(I'll give you my answer after I read a few of your responses)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Some Straight Talk

Sometimes, we all need a friend who can be a little direct with us. Here's an email sent by an associate to a friend who had requested a warm introduction and then didn't follow up.


Dear ________,

I apologize if I sounded harsh today. I just wanted to you get the reality of networking which includes soliciting for help from others.

People will often go out of the way to help you because you're a nice guy with whom they like to hang around. I' m sure you get this from your friends as they have worked with you for many years and knows that you are a really talented, nice human being. Because you are always in contact with your friends, there will be many opportunities where you help them out, and the favour is returned. A nice circle of good deeds being circulated continuously.

But then you will meet people who don't know you as well. You will have to do more to prove to them that you are also reliable, and will do what you say you will do.

If you do not follow up on their help, eg you forget to call the person they refer to you , you forget to offer to help them back, or forget to show your appreciation... they may not help you the second time or ever again. When this happens:

1. Your initial contact is disappointed that you have not kept your promises and they are now reluctant to help you again.

2. Your credibility is questioned. If a 3rd person approaches your contact and asks about what kind of person you are, imagine what your contact will say.

3. The referred person that you were supposed to contact will also question your credibility as you have never contacted them.

You may feel that I'm over-analyzing the situation. I am a big believer that the world is small and you never know who you meet.

Word-of-mouth is a powerful yet unpredictable force.


These are great words of wisdom from a straight-talking friend. So if you ask someone for a referral or introduction, make sure you follow up. And then thank everyonne involved.

Monday, February 05, 2007

A Good Guy - a Joke - a revised connection

Why do people email each other jokes? It has a lot to do with being "a good guy."

You likely get the odd humourous email in your inbox. Did you realize that a joke can strengthen your network and renew old connections?

1. Today I received a funny email with a surprise ending.

LETTER FROM A FARM KID (Now at San Diego Marine Corps Recruiting depot)

Dear Ma and Pa,

I am well. Hope you are. Tell Brother Walt and Brother Elmer the Marine Corps beats working for old man Minch by a mile. Tell them to join up quick before all of the places are filled.

I was restless at first because you got to stay in bed till nearly 6 a.m. but I am getting so I like to sleep late. Tell Walt and Elmer all you do before breakfast is smooth your cot, and shine some things. No hogs to slop, feed to pitch, mash to mix, wood to split, fire to lay. Practically nothing.

Some got to shave but it is not so bad, there's warm water. Breakfast is strong on trimmings like fruit juice, cereal, eggs, bacon, etc., but kind of weak on chops, potatoes, ham, steak, fried eggplant, pie and other regular food, but tell Walt and Elmer you can always sit by the two city boys that live on coffee. Their food plus yours holds you until noon when you get fed again. It's no wonder these city boys can't walk much.

We go on "route marches," which the platoon sergeant says are long walks to harden us. If he thinks so, it's not my place to tell him different. A "route march" is about as far as to our mailbox at home. Then the city guys get sore feet and we all ride back in trucks.

The country is nice but awful flat. The sergeant is like a school teacher. He nags a lot. The Captain is like the school board. Majors and colonels just ride around and frown. They don't bother you none.

This next will kill Walt and Elmer with laughing. I keep getting medals for shooting. I don't know why. The bulls-eye is near as big as a chipmunk head and don't move, and it ain't shooting at you like the Higgett boys at home. All you got to do is lie there all comfortable and hit it. You don't even load your own cartridges. They come in boxes.

Then we have what they call hand-to-hand combat training. You get to wrestle with them city boys. I have to be real careful though, they break real easy. It ain't like fighting with that ole bull at home. I'm about the best they got in this except for that Tug Jordan from over in Silver Lake I only beat him once. He joined up the same time as me, but I'm only 5'6" and 130 pounds and he's 6'8" and near 300 pounds dry.

Be sure to tell Walt and Elmer to hurry and join before other fellers get onto this setup and come stampeding in.

Your loving daughter,


2. As it was tasteful and a little funny, I sent it off with an introduction (and my signature block) to a few friends including Frank Golden. Frank is one of my "good guys", an Irishman with a heart of gold who is a natural networker and connector. He helps companies develop business in biotech and scientific supplies. I thought Frank could use a laugh to start the week.

3. 3o minutes later, back comes a note from Jim Schille, a nice guy who who I hadn't realized now works with Kenwaunee Scientific in Western Canada. I had lost track of Jim - Frank had forwarded on the joke.

4. I picked up the phone and had a great chat with Jim. I'm heading out to his neck of the woods (Saskatoon) in 2 weeks, and we discussed have a coffee or beer and finding a way to develop business for each other.

5. Then I called Frank and told him "thanks" and put him in this blog.


a) An emailed joke can keep you in the "A" category (you provide value to your friends on a regular basis) rather than the all-too-common "B" slot (they only hear from you when you need something).

b) it should be be personalized (not a mass email) and appropriate (be careful about off-colour humour)

c) you can never say "thanks" too many times...but always with sincerity.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Kind words and a reminder

This morning, a google alert revealed that Jas Banwait mentioned me in her daily blog. I surfed over to and read some kind words.

When the days get long, it's nice to know that you have impact in the lives of others. Thanks Jas!

BTW - if those thank you cards are gathering a little dust, please read the column today in the Globe and Mail's Facts and Arguments page. Sipping my coffee (no sugar, one milk) at Tim Horton's this morning and leafing through the paper, I was reminded how important (and long lasting) is the effect of the written word.

A quote to think about today:

"Memories soon fade, but in my hand I can still hold a piece of birch bark with a love poem printed by my father more than 80 years ago. "


A mailbox or a mouse? - RUTH BEST

I carefully turn the pages of my scrapbook to the tiny yellowed envelope postmarked May, 1916. Inside, in childish pencil printing, is a letter my seven-year-old mother wrote to a cousin describing a birthday party. I pair this keepsake with her photo, one where she wears a huge hair-ribbon and stands with one ankle turned, in front of a snowball bush.
A tin box in our attic is filled with my grandmother's 1892 love letters. The two-cent stamps bear the image of Queen Victoria. Grandmother was teaching school in Dundas, Ont., at the time and had received a proposal of marriage from grandfather. She pens her reply as she sits beneath an apple tree on her way home from school. Her turmoil at leaving her beloved profession seems clear as she writes, "my tears fall like these apple blossoms."
I am not a "tech-no" and do use my computer daily but I wonder if letter-writing is nearly obsolete. Will our grandchildren have any such keepsake windows through which to glimpse their family's history?
Although I understand that everything can eventually be retrieved from my computer's hard drive, will future generations have any interest in sorting through thousands of mechanically typed e-mail messages years from now? I doubt it.

Snail-mail postage increases yearly. Days when we have no mail delivery whatever seem more numerous, and the time it takes for a letter to travel across the country seems longer. Are these portents of the demise of the hand-written message?
Despite my questions, I am myself a constant e-mailer and quick to acknowledge the many advantages of keeping in touch electronically. The news is immediate. I heard about my grandchild's first steps just minutes after he took them. With no stamps to buy or walks to a post box, I am less likely to put off letter-writing and can sit down at my computer at any time and contact a friend with fresh news. I am now in regular communication with those whom I previously heard from only at Christmas. Still, I cannot deny the frisson of excitement I feel each time I find a hand-addressed letter in my mailbox.
Inside could be a snippet of fabric from a dress being sewn, a square of wallpaper from a renovated room or a pressed flower from the garden. The electronic devotée will argue that all of the above can be photographed and e-mailed as an attachment. But I would miss the luxurious feeling of delicate silk slipping through my fingers, the true vibrant colours of a wallpaper sample and an actual flower that I could hold.
One of my most prized possessions is the handwritten diary started in England by my great-grandfather when he was 21 and kept until his death in Canada. Pressed between its yellowing pages is the fragile remains of a boutonniere he once wore, plus his description of a visit to London where he recounts his reaction to the chiming of the newly erected Big Ben. "The sound was so great that I could feel my whole body vibrating and even the skirt of my coat if I touched it with my hand," he writes in hurried cursive under the heading Jan. 31, 1857.
I can picture this young Englishman shivering in his long skirted coat on the streets of London.
I fit him into my own history just as I do the frightened young mother, pregnant with another child that will strain the family finances. Her letter to her sister requesting money I found tucked beneath the boards of a drawer in my antique dresser.
Inside a wax-sealed envelope, written in perfect penmanship on fine vellum paper, is the official indenture of a 16-year-old ancestor apprenticed to an architect. The flowing cursive strokes are like a beautiful piece of art. Remembering my own ink-splattered pages as I tried to master the straight pen, I wonder how long it took the writer to perfect this document.
I understand that now penmanship is no longer taught in most of our schools. Has handwriting has become a lost art?
And what about thank-you notes from gifts received, or the "bread-and-butter" letters required by my childhood etiquette after an overnight visit? I recall my own blotched efforts when after much prodding I dutifully wrote, "How are you? I am fine. Thank you for the . . .," followed by a shout to my mother to ask, "What did they give me?"
My grandchildren's e-mails begin without salutation, are printed in multi-colours, interspersed with smiley faces and are shortened to "thank U 4 . . .".
I am delighted to get them.
And I am almost as happy when a black e-card dog carrying a bouquet of roses in his teeth bounces across my screen trailing a "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" banner.
Some of these e-cards are quite lovely: winter scenes with skaters silhouetted against a full moon, gently falling snow and Silent Night sung softly by a choir, or magnolia buds unfolding accompanied by the sweet strains of Mendelssohn.
Memories soon fade, but in my hand I can still hold a piece of birch bark with a love poem printed by my father more than 80 years ago.
And the long-ago summer camp letter from a nine-year-old son that reads "At 7:30 in the mornen we go for a wash in the lake with nothen on."
Or the Mother's Day card decorated with bits of lace and a large "M" made from silver gum-wrappers.
These are rich pieces of history I can hold in my hand and also in my heart.

Ruth Best lives in Dundas, Ont.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Rule #1

The first rule of being "a good guy" (and women can be good guys) is that you can't call yourself "a good guy." That's like leaning over in a bar and telling someone "I'm really good-looking!" Hey, if you have to keep telling someone you're good're not that good looking...

A buddy of mine shot me this email today with the above attached ad from a realtors website. See if you agree with him.

I sorta took what you said about good guys to heart…. Remember when you said that you can’t call yourself a good guy… this guy does and after what I thought was an excellent profile of himself he lost all his credibility when he says “I am a genuinely nice guy”

Don’t ya just wanna shake people sometimes…….. thought you’d geta kick out of it!

Cheers, S

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Still not Convinced?

Thanks Paul Copcutt for sending this link attesting to the power of a sincere, specific and searchable thank you card.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Let's help Brian out

Brian is the husband of a co-worker. Good guy. Background in sales and marketing. Was with Dun and Bradstreet. (Fitness fan: to be a personal trainer!) Please see his Outreach document and post any offers of introductions.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

How are your Mirror Neurons?

Cara Buckley's article in this week's NewYork Times discusses the theory of "mirror neurons" that may promote empathy and turn ordinary people into hero's.

Except for sociopaths, humans are built to feel and act out of empathy, said Stephen G. Post, a professor of bioethics at Case Western Reserve University’s medical school and co-author of “Why Good Things Happen to Good People,” scheduled to be published in May. Social support has always been important to survival, and people with strong social networks thrive more than those who are isolated.

Perhaps the key to being "good guy" is all about realligning your neurons.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Networking vs Strategic Networking

I chatted with two new people this week - both were relatives of associates, very nice people and both are in job search mode. Neither had been to my seminars and it was apparent they were challenged by the concept of "strategic networking." I had some conversations with both B. and R. and I thought this was worth a blog.


- email everyone you know and ask if they can help you (eg get a job)

- email your resume to everyone, including people you haven't kept in touch with for years.

- keep a stack of resumes to hand out to anyone you meet.

- rely on a friend/your Mom/your brother-in-law to get that perfect position for you
- recognize that "good things just sell themselves" and you'll get that position if you just wait long enough
- put all your eggs in one basket. Stop your networking as soon as you get short-listed for a job.

- get upset that you are unqualified because you are too old/young/under-educated/over-educated/not good looking enough.

Strategic Networking

- make a list of industries/companies or individuals you would like to be introduced to.

- buy 10 thank you cards and 10 stamps (minimum)

- put together an Outreach Document. If you are confused or frustrated by where to go and what to do to find prospects, try read this great book by Dr. Barbara Moses.

- pick up the phone and start calling friends and family. Invite them out for a coffee. Renew your friendship and then ask if they can help you. Show them this document and ask if they know anyone on the list. Ask how you can help them. Ask for permission to call these people and use their name. remember, these aren't job interviews, they are informational interviews.

- Start off with this script to open the conversation then have a list of questions ready.

eg how long have you worked for your company?

eg do you enjoy what you do?

eg how did you find the company/how did they find you?

eg where do you see the company going?

eg what are your biggest challenges?

eg do you see any fit for someone of my background and experience in your company or industry?

eg is there anything I can do to help you?

BTW Try to find something you have in common with the callee (residence, schooling, family, sports, etc) .

- send thank you cards to your friend who referred you to the individual and to the individual. Make sure they are specific, sincere and searchable.

- Don't be upset if people forget to return your call or are tardy in getting back to you. Keep the pipeline full. Be persistant but not pushy. Keep paying it forward and if you get down - keep asking people how you can help them. The go out and keep your promises.