Intro from Alana:
Today’s guest blogger is Ann O’Meara, who I met last year through, well, networking! For more than 25 years, Ann has been a proven marketing, communications and business leader in the Kansas City area. Recently, her research and passion led her to launch Fantastic55 – Information, Inspiration & Celebration. It’s a Blog, Newsletter, Research articles and Checklists helping those 55+ embrace the challenges and choices that come with living longer, remaining healthy and staying technologically connected. Ann completed her MBA-Marketing in 2007 and continues working on her second masters in Organizational Development. She serves as an adjunct university instructor and is a Kauffman Foundation 1 Million Cups participant.
Service to others is of great importance to Ann. Currently, she spends time assisting a friend who is recovering from a stroke. She has provided leadership and execution for Boards of Directors including the Bacchus Foundation, Kappa Kappa Gamma Alumni and the South KC Chamber of Commerce. She enjoys the beach, biking and golf.
“Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey. Guest Post by Ann O’Meara.
Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ is my quintessential networking song. The opening lyric, “just a small town girl living in a lonely world” resonates with this Bay City, Michigan, native. Your hometown may have a different name and population, but I’m guessing you were surrounded by family and friends; yet, because there was so much more out there, you were lonely or seeking something else. And just like me, off you went to discover new worlds and new people – little did you know you would be networking.
Connecting with others on a human level is Nnena Ukuku’s networking tip. As CEO of Black Founders, Ukuku believes that connections are person-to-person and not confined to what someone can do for you. Her mantra is to value, be vested, and follow up even if a connection doesn’t seem like an amazing one (The Secrets to Successful Networking from the Most Connected Women, FastCompany.com, 11-20-14).
Fortunately, my networking doesn’t occur in a smoky room with smells of wine and cheap perfume. And we aren’t strangers waiting on the boulevard. But some rooms and people are out of my comfort zone – the walnut-paneled, mostly male, high wealth crowd causes me to pause. Maybe for Bill Gates, it’s the roadhouse BBQ, red-checked table cloth, beer swirling crowd. Wherever and whomever, shift into “go” mode, believe in yourself, and proceed.
And yes, it is Working Hard. Your efforts may be more fruitful by contacting people in advance, taking a wingman or volunteering at the check-in table (Daniel Bortz, 7 Networking Tips for Introverts, Money, timeinc.net, 1-12-16). Now that you’ve completed the physical networking and sent the follow-up, it’s time to keep your contacts recorded and organized. I group my contacts alphabetically by origin (company, group, or event), keep dates, contact numbers and correspondence notes. I use an old-fashioned spreadsheet, but apps like FullContact, Brewster, Cloze and Zoho Contact Manager might be helpful to you.
So next time you’re on your way to a networking event, cue up your device and listen to Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’. I trust it will inspire you to Go On and On and On and On.