Introduction from Alana:
Back when leading Kauffman FastTrac, I sometimes had the opportunity to address FastTrac course participants directly. The opportunity to connect 1:1 with actual entrepreneurs gave me an extra charge of energy! That was never more true than when the attendees reciprocated in their interest to build a long-term relationship.
One such participant who I have kept in touch with all these years is a proud FastTrac GrowthVenture alumnus, Will Gladhart. Will is a consummate professional, is actively engaged in the community and is an outstanding connector! I’m also proud to say, he is also my friend.
Now, Will is Chief Operating Officer for i4LC, a technology driven company providing proven solutions to help employees and companies adapt to and overcome life events, building resiliency in your workforce. The organization has a data tool that allows for anonymously surveying entire company workforces, then provides leadership with exact data based on specific life events employees are experiencing that are causing time off, lost wages, safety issues, etc. The company then follows up with an employee support/ training solution tailored to employee needs. It’s really cool.
I was intrigued by the story of how Will came to discover this opportunity. He graciously offered to share it with the CLC Community. Hope it is as motivating for you as it was for me. Please welcome Will Gladhart!
Guest Blog by Will Gladhart, COO, Institute for Life Care
When Alana asked me to write a blog post, I was thinking “wow” what a fantastic opportunity to share networking tidbits. The more I pondered about my history of business networking, I discovered I wanted to share how providing service through networking ended up resulting in an unforeseen career opportunity.
Over the past seven years with my consulting business, I aggressively participated in every networking event or opportunity around the Kansas City Metro…from Chambers to 1 Million Cups to technology startup events and young professional mixers. I am a natural networker and connector of individuals, but after a time on the networking circuit, I began to feel something in the networking mix was missing; couldn’t put my finger on it, just didn’t feel I was getting ‘all I could’ out of the networking experience.
After moving to Overland Park in 2015, I began to seek out organizations where I could network and provide a positive contribution to the local community. Fortunately, my insurance agent invited me to a Rotary Club meeting and I was intrigued. I had heard of Rotary, known older Rotarians, and read about the service projects the organization leads in the community and worldwide, but I had not considered Rotary as a service networking opportunity…boy was I wrong!
After joining the Overland Park Rotary Club last year (for selfish networking and business lead development reasons), I had the opportunity to say ‘yes’ and participate in several service projects. I discovered not only were my networking & communications skills contributing to projects such as the OP Rotary Reads Children’s book drive where we delivered over 57K books to 87 charitable organization between Thanksgiving and Christmas in the Metro, but also my business/ operations/ technology skills were honed and challenged as well! Also, being involved on the Board of the Rotary Star Spangled Spectacular was an opportunity to work with Club mentors/ leaders, gain visibility with the Club & City, as well as head up the marketing and communication efforts between our social media firm, ThinkViral, and the City of Overland Park and Corporate Woods!
Without thinking about ‘selfish networking’ goals, I was contributing my business/ networking skills to these Service Projects, doing the work, enjoying it and then realized I was building strong relationships within a 200+ member organization…and new friendships too!
A fellow Rotarian took notice of my passion for projects and contributing “service above self” and approached me at the start of 2017 about a job opportunity. The unforeseen, positive consequence of service based networking: I have a completely new job position as Chief Operating Officer at the Institute for Life Care…a position that combines past job history skills, working with a fantastic, highly skilled team in a life event solution organization I am absolutely passionate about. How is that for a career event that one never saw coming through service networking?
You can network till you drop, but if you are only ‘networking for networking sake’ without considering the opportunity for service, you may be missing out on life-changing career opportunities!