Intro from Alana:
Earlier this month, millennial and recent college grad, Jack Blake, shared his perspective on trying something for the first time as a means of connecting with others, expanding one’s knowledge and gaining new insight. That theme continues with today’s post from my dear friend, Kris Carlgren, a corporate and customer strategy executive, and start-up mentor with University of Kansas City Entrepreneur Scholar program who is passionate about helping others translate ideas and insights into results.
As with so many people who I’ve met over the years, a mutual friend introduced Kris and I by email many, many years ago. The problem was, I never responded to the introduction! How embarrassing. However, as luck would have it, fate brought Kris and I together a few years ago when we were both going through some life and career transition. The timing was perfect!
Since then, Kris has and continues to impress me with the depth of her insight into any number of topics coupled with her kind and friendly nature and ability to connect people and ideas with finesse. I’m delighted to introduce the CLC Community to the wonderful Kris Carlgren!
Guest blog by Kris Carlgren:
Is it possible to network and build relationships, while also immersing in a new moment-in-time learning experience? Can exposure to new situations make you more adaptable to any situation?
We can all list moments that stretched us outside of our comfort zone, and resulted in a greater appreciation of someone or something AND a great relationship. As Alana has often shared in her networking advice, it can feel very uneasy to walk into a room of strangers who have gathered for the purpose of networking, let alone adding a second aspect of being vulnerable to a new experience.
There is not a perfect formula for the combination of networking and a new immersive experience, but one amazing example is Coding and Cocktails. Jennifer Wadella, a Kansas City pioneer in technology, founded the fascinating concept of Coding and Cocktails. It brings together women to network, enjoy a trendy cocktail, and teach how to code a basic website (all in a few hours). The evening I learned to code was refreshingly rewarding – both in terms of the fellowship and greater appreciation for the art and science of coding. The mentors were a unique blend of unparalleled leadership, talent, and generosity. Jennifer was spot-on with the creation of Coding and Cocktails – the perfect balance of networking and immersive learning.
There are opportunities within organizations in day-to-day business to create immersive moment-in-time experiences and cross-functional relationship building. As a customer strategy executive for a large and diverse customer team, I invited internal business partners to present programs directly with customers. While the content was often covered by sales and category leaders, the business partners’ exposure enabled them to gain access to executive leaders to build their personal brand and relationships beyond their current division. The business partners were given the immersive moment to learn and shine, yet have the safety and support of a team to help them if needed. The first-hand exposure to customers’ successes and challenges led to broader end-to-end problem solving and sense of accountability, which in turn led to stronger top and bottom line results.
Challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone (or pay-it-forward for another leader) to find or create an immersive experience that will lead to both greater understanding and new relationships.