Great teachers, good books!

A regular feature of Networking Know-How has been our “what’s on your nightstand” reading suggestions—many of which have come in from list subscribers. Here is a broad selection from the long list.

The First 90 Days (Michael Watkins) and Influence without Authority (Alan R. Cohen) are two “classic” business books that provide leadership strategies, stories and tips, including how to cultivate and manage a network (inside and outside the organization), that will increase your chances for success by becoming a person known for achieving your own goals while helping others achieve theirs.

Maynard Webb’s Rebooting Work: Transform How You Work in the Age of Entrepreneurship takes on the changes in our new, IT-fueled workplace, where he sees more flexible and empowering opportunities for work than ever before.  Webb sees a world where freelancing and consulting offer opportunities, but also raise challenges in staying connected.

Linda Hill’s Being the Boss asks you to think about how you are doing managing the fundamentals of being a leader in today’s changing organizations and explains the conflicts managers face as they deal with the competing expectations of bosses, workers, peers, and others.

Susan RoAne’s books are known for helping people build confidence and for providing the tips and the tools to walk into any number of social and professional gathering with a room full of strangers and mingle.   How to Work A Room was first published in 1988, revised In 2007 and has sold over a million copies worldwide.

Increase your Influence at Work by Perry McIntosh and Richard Luecke is a quick-read 100-page paperback that shows the deep interconnections between building a strong and positive network and increasing your influence at work. Through influence, you can accomplish organizational, career and professional goals even when you don’t have actual formal authority over others.

We talk a lot in this space about the importance of giving back. Adam Grant’s new book, Give and Take, A Revolutionary Approach to Success, explores three kinds of people: givers (who like to be on the giving side of an equation), takers (who look to get more than they give), and matchers (who try to maintain a balance).

Susan Benjamin’s Perfect Phrases for Professional Networking: Hundreds of Ready-to-Use Phrases for Meeting and Keeping Helpful Contacts–Everywhere You Go is a very handy guide that can help you when you wonder what’s the “right thing to say.”  

Dorothy Leeds’s The 7 Powers of Questions: Secrets to Successful Communication in Life and Work is one of my favorite ”how to” books. Leeds explains why asking questions improves communication and helps you learn how to be genuine in formulating questions that lead to building and strengthening relationships.

For me, the “cause” of serendipity is attitude: the way you look at things; your approach to the world around you and the people in your world makes all the difference in what happens! If serendipity is of interest to you, Earning Serendipity by Glen Llopis may open you to a new way of thinking.

Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands is a best-selling, to-the-point guide that introduces you to the proper business behavior of more than 60 countries.

Gail McMeekin is an author, blogger, and workshop leader on the power of creating abundance at work and in life. In The 12 Secrets of Highly Successful Women, she shares tips that are timeless and “genderless” in discovering and integrating gratitude and fulfillment into our daily lives.

Terrie Williams, the author of The Personal Touch, a good “how to be a success in business” book, lives the values of giving in multiple ways. In addition to running a very successful PR firm in NYC, she speaks and writes about how to help teens “Stay Strong,” as well as regularly reaching out and volunteering with those who are far less fortunate.

Tim Butler in Getting Unstuck helps identify and address a common “psychological impasse.” It is a time of uncertainty and feeling uncomfortable.

Debra Fine’s The Fine Art of Small Talk helps you build rapport in large settings. More everyday small talk tools can be found in Alan Garner’s revised Conversationally Speaking or Dan Gabor’s How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends, which made me revisit the social skills classic, first published in 1936 with over 15 million copies sold world-wide, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie!

101 Great Ways To Improve Your Life is a collection of 101 self-improvement articles from recognized subject matter experts on topics ranging from doubt to self mastery, procrastination to speed reading, values to volunteering.  

For those starting out in their careers and those who wish to advance more quickly, check out The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead by Charles Murray (a well respected writer and author of The Bell Curve and the NYTimes Bestseller Coming Apart).

Knowing how to navigate and negotiate getting things done in the world of work includes being able to have a productive (and positive) conversation with others. This month’s book, Michael Wheeler’s The Art of Negotiation, How to Improvise Agreement in a Chaotic World, focuses on what to do when the conversation goes off-script.

Life is a serious business, but who says you can’t find joy along the way? We should take our personal lives just as seriously as we take our careers. Allison Rimm’s The Joy of Strategy: A Business Plan for Life, guides you in creating a strategic plan that will help you pursue your life goals and dreams. 

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury is a classic to be sure, it has built its reputation as a “must read” for all levels of negotiation–from major decisions in the board room to the occasional conflict that can arise between officemates working under deadlines and limited resources. It will help you create win-win situations when asking for and receiving help from your network.

Finally, my own book, The Power of Everyday Networking, is packed with ideas that will help you with a job search or any transition.





Career management 101

This is what you need to know:

  • Yourself–being aware, attuned and accountable to what motivates and drives you.
  • What is satisfying and is rewarding to you?
  • What energizes and excites you?
  • What renews and balances you?

Where will the best of you–your skills, values and talents–be applicable, appropriate and appreciated?  When you feel good about who you are and proud and passionate about what you are doing, it shows and people notice.

How is your week going?

Finding and performing meaningful work is often cited as the goal of a successful career.  What does this really mean?

  1. Having a job where (more days than not) you are making a contribution
  2. Doing work you can be proud of.
  3. Being in an organization known for its values, excellence and accomplishments
  4. Working with colleagues and clients you trust, enjoy and can learn from.
  5. On a daily basis, being available to unexpected opportunities and open to the unknown.

Aristotle said, “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” Pay attention over the next few days and let me how your week is going.

Chemistry or Commitment

I believe careers are built on connections—so much so that I have spent the last 20-plus years training, coaching, writing, speaking and now blogging (as well as sending out hundreds of daily tips) on the subject of how to build and maintain a network of diverse, authentic and lasting relationships.  And here are two things I have learned about networking relationships:

  1. Strong, supportive and reciprocal relationships don’t happen at once, and once they do develop they demand an on-going commitment of time, effort, energy and attention.
  2. Like life, though there are no guarantees of where relationships will go.  Those people we “just feel” we know and know us best, the ones we are “positive” will always be there to help, sometimes aren’t there when we need them and they don’t help. It doesn’t mean they don’t care, it just happens that way sometimes.  And those people we met through a chance encounter, barely get to spend time with, or think we have no chemistry or wonder if there is anything in common to build a stronger connection with, may over time become our best professional allies and/or personal friends. 



In my role as a coach, I often hear the words, “I want to be successful” and I ask: “At What?”  Worldly success? Personal? Professional? Financial?  It is a word that has no single definition so today I ask: “What do you mean by success?”

Many years back, I read an interesting article on managing our lives. It spoke to creating one’s own definition of success. I jotted down many of the author’s thoughts and as summer begins I pass them on as something to consider as you launch your career, look for a new job, or wonder what legacy you will leave:

Success is how you handle your responsibilities to other people, how you approach the future.  Successful people  have a full sense of the value of their life and what they want to do with it.   “Successful” does not mean they have money or their business is doing well, but as human beings they have a fully developed sense of being alive and are engaged in a lifetime task of collaboration with other human beings—their mothers and fathers, their family, their friends, their loved ones, the communities where they work, live, worship, play.

Turning “Decision Making Gridlock” into Opportunities

It is up to you to make something of your work-life.  Here are a few ideas to show you not only where, but how to make that attitude adjustment:

  1. Congratulations! Just by clicking to this blog, you have started shifting your attitude from “not now” to “I’m ready.” Now keep reading
  2. Identify one–just one–small tangible forward-moving action step you can comfortably do/take in the next 24 hours.
  3. Can’t think of anything?  Well, sit back, stand up and take a deep breath, or two, or ten long inhales and exhales. Relaxing your mind (and mindset) will let go of the negative thoughts, fears and attitude that are holding you back and open you up to positive, possible action. Trust me, an idea will come to you.
  4. Write down the reward you will receive once you have taken this positive step.  Identifying 3 potential, positive outcome(s) that will result from an action step will give you the reinforcement you need to take that next step.

Who do you need to call or see to help you?  You know what you “have to do” to move from procrastination to positive action, “BUT” who are the 2 people in your network that will coach you through the process and/or champion your efforts?  Seek them out; and don’t procrastinate!!!!

Reconnecting when you are in an extended job search

The pressure of needing to go back and re-connect with someone in our network and ask for some more help during a job search raises the networking anxiety level for all of us. Here are three proactive ideas to help you develop a positive “story line” about why you are calling again and share what is going on in your life now.

  1. Where and how have you spent this “out of work” time: professionally and personally—are you volunteering, taking classes (in social media), attending conferences, association meetings, speaking, blogging? Coaching soccer, learning a language?
  2. Why are you contacting this person again?  Do you have a specific request, or are you just catching up? Are you hoping to strengthen this network tie by inviting this person to lunch, share something you learned that will be helpful to her; or introduce him to someone in your network—or have met while in your search?
  3. What is the best way to reconnect this time?   If you saw the person at a summer golf tournament and now it’s early May, it may be best to wait a few weeks and connect when golf season is in “full swing” rather than just shouting off an email asking to talk.

It’s important to have a story that demonstrates you have been using your time wisely—not just in a search. Don’t apologize for this transition time, just be sure to use business language and do productive things. And don’t forget that a search is the perfect time to do a few of those “if I only had the time” activities!

Advice for about-to-be college grads

Congratulations, you are in the final stretch–exams, job interviews, celebration parties, apartment hunting.  You are taking the next step in building the life you want and everyone who knows you wishes you only the best.

You are also about to embark of a grand 5-plus-decade career adventure.  And like all adventures, it will be full of turns, twists, ups, downs, side trips, detours, and an occasional “how did that happen?”   

Just remember: Your work will make a difference in the world, your talent will be recognized, and hopefully, you will enjoy most–if not all of–your jobs. So stay true to your passion, purpose and principles.

And best of all:  Every day, you will have an opportunity to meet and work with some pretty amazing people, and if you treat them with respect, kindness, and a genuine willingness to help, many will be with you throughout your work-life journey–and be a large part of building the life you want.

Volunteer opportunities right in front of you

Does your workplace support a culture of giving back? Working on a special company fundraising or community project or volunteering to serve on a committee for a company event gives you a unique opportunity to give back, and exposes you to other business goals of the organization while providing opportunities to meet and work with people from the entire organization—and often outside organization as well!

Just remember, volunteering is hard work and at times, you may wonder what’s in it for you?  Yes, you meet new people and make connections, gain skills and experience. But more importantly, volunteering also opens you up to seeing a bigger world; doing something for something you really care about while developing a spirit of generosity and stewardship.