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What impression am I making? Who do I know? What do I know about them? … and many more questions – SUMMARY

February 8, 2011 4 comments

Well, it’s been a great experience pulling together this three part series. I hope that in reading it, you have found some insight in to your Personal Network – I certainly have in writing it.

I’ve reviewed three new products/service – from MyWebCareer, Connected and Nimble. I have also had the privilege to interview the founders of each business.

The first step with each of these solutions is going off to the “cloud” and pulling together personal information

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from the likes of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google. However, each solution has a different angle on aggregating this information.

I started this series of posts by asking a series of questions? They were:-

* What impression am I making?
* Who do I know?
* What do I know about them?

My exploration of the value of Personal Networks constantly throws up questions – and these are only three of many.

What impression am I making?

MyWebCareer, undoubtedly answers this question. Although, like everything in life – it’s only an opinion.

If you are developing and cultivating your Personal Network – you should be concerned about your “brand” and how you are perceived by your network. I don’t see any reason for not giving it a try – and using its clever scoring system to bench mark your Personal Brand and on-line presence. I’d also recommended this service to Personal Brand consultants (like Beth Campbell Duke) – it’s a simple way to get clients thinking about how they shape up … and how they can improve. I will certainly diary time each month for a brief review of which direction my MyWebCareer score is moving – and why.

So, this is the easy bit of the post – if you want this question answering .. then just log in to MyWebCareer.

Who do I know? What to I know about them?

This is a tough one. The undoubted, sure fire winner of the commercial race is Nimble! It’s driven by an inspirational founder, Jon Ferrara – with the conventional CRM customer base waiting with open arms for a Social CRM solution. It will work for SMEs (Small & Medium Enterprises) at all levels from management to sales staff to customers.

However, my interest is in Personal Networks. As regular readers will know, my favourite quote is from Mick Cope, who wrote the FT book, “Personal Networking”:-

“By professional networking I mean a set of close contacts or associates who will help deliver my value to market. The key thing is that these are people who will ‘help’ you in the market, THEY ARE NOT THE MARKET. Sorry for the full-on letters, but my definition of a network is ‘people who will help amplify my personal capital in the market’, not a bunch of friends and colleagues to whom I try to sell under the guise of giving them a great opportunity. Active management of these people is not networking; it is client relationship management, a whole different ball game…”

This is the third time I’ve quoted this in my blog – it sums up the idea of a Personal Network for me. Mick will be charging me royalties soon….

During the interview with Sachin Rekhi, the founder of Connected, we discussed who was his customer. He said: “We looked at delivering this products to companies – chasing the VP of Sales. However, we decided that Connected is a more personal product – and we’re committed to take the harder track of acquiring customers one at a time.”

So, for someone with the long-term/life-long strategic goal of cultivating and developing their Personal Network – I think Sachin has set the best strategy. Unfortunately, this does not make it a sure fire commercial winner like Nimble! Getting people to stand back, take stock, work out where they are going – and recognising that their Personal Network is the key to long-term development will be a challenge.

While writing this series of posts, trying out the software and interviewing the founders, I’ve started to get a much better feel for the support needed for a Personal Network to function. The “Who do I know? What to I know about them?” is a fundamental building block in this.

I’ve also taken a look back my blog post “Personal Networks, Soloware and ‘The Individual is the new Group'”. In summary, that post makes the argument that the power of the individual through “Soloware” is much greater than that of the Enterprise through “Groupware”.

From all this deliberation, I am starting to understand that the Linchpin society put forward by Seth Godin in his book (indispensable, unique people are the future) – means that enterprise driven CRM systems are not the solutions required for the social media connected 21st century.

I always believe that when I am getting to grips with a complex issue, if I can visualise it (or in my case create a block diagram) that I am getting near a solution. Here’s my first iteration:-

Here the individual has their Personal Network, gathered from the “cloud” – which we see in solutions like Connected and Nimble. However, the significant difference that I envisage is that the enterprises we engage with as “Linchpins” to deliver projects will need to give access to their corporate information in the same cloud based way.

This will demand a whole new level of trust between individuals and enterprise – and a shift of power. In our new world – The Personal Network is king!

Thank you to Nip, Sachin and Jon – I’ve really enjoyed connecting with you … and wish you and your ventures every success.

Keith – I feel let down

November 15, 2010 6 comments

I’ve thought long and hard about writing this post. I feel that I’ve been let down by someone on the very outskirts of my Personal Network – but it’s still disappointing (maybe I’m just too sensitive).

Regular readers of the blog will know that I’ve read and reviewed two books by Keith Ferrazzi – and more recently created a post talking about and recommending a free webinar he was offering to preview his Executive Relationship Management Course.

Well since, the point of recommendation, I feel that I’ve been spammed. I’m not bothered for myself – but I feel let down that I’ve

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recommended and passed on my trust to others (and if they’ve signed up, they might feel spammed too). I’ve had messages like:-

-> Emergency…Keith is going nuts on the webinar…
-> Okay, so maybe we miscalculated…maybe a LOT…
-> Don’t you need more sales and bigger revenues?
-> Your last, last chance for the program…
-> 13 hours and 25 minutes

All emails in that “old style” direct marketing format of calls to actions, links – and PSs!

I feel like I’d met a guy who I liked a couple of times who was an insurance salesman – then invited him to a dinner party with friends and he proceed to dole out business cards and try to sell insurance to my pals.

I can understand why it’s happened. The numbers give a clue – only 250 places, Premium Plus places at $3,988 and Premium places at $1,988. So that’s either a $1m or $500k sales target! We all have to earn a living.

My favourite quote on Personal Networks is from Mick Cope (who wrote the FT book, “Personal Networking”)

“By professional networking I mean a set of close contacts or associates who will help deliver my value to market. The key thing is that these are people who will ‘help’ you in the market, THEY ARE NOT THE MARKET. Sorry for the full-on letters, but my definition of a network is ‘people who will help amplify my personal capital in the market’, not a bunch of friends and colleagues to whom I try to sell under the guise of giving them a great opportunity. Active management of these people is not networking; it is client relationship management, a whole different ball game and one deliberately not covered in this book.”

It’s a great mantra – and you can see why Keith’s actions make me feel let down.

I am sure all people who have signed up for the course will learn a lot (I think no less of Keith’s professional abilities), I hope that Keith has made that $1m sales target (his talent does deserve reward) – but the outcome that I wish for most is that Keith reflects that in the process he’s drifted in to becoming the “Networking Jerk” (chapter 6 – “Never Eat Alone”). Keith’s changed from being the Farmer to the Hunter.

The reason I still like the books – and think well of Keith (even though today I feel let down) is that in both his books his ability to recognise and acknowledge his mistakes shows his humanity.

It’s also a lesson for me. I’m just about to launch a commercial venture alongside my passion for Personal Networks. I am sure that in my enthusiasm, eagerness (and maybe a little greed) along the way I will make mistakes too. I now realise there is a very sensitive line in my relationship with my Personal Network.

Keeping Score?

October 10, 2010 2 comments

There’s a small news story in today’s FT Weekend about BNI (Business Network International) making an award to the UK’s most successful networker. Step forward 36-year-old Simon Johnson, who is a flooring specialist from East Anglia. The story is on the FT website – but you will need to register to get access.

The story says that over the past 12 months, Simon has generated his contacts £634,233 of business after creating 102 money-making

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referrals for his colleagues in the King’s Lynn BNI Chapter. It certainly shows the value of Personal Networks that are well managed – Simon seems an expert.

I am not sure whether Personal Networking is just about referrals (especially the measured and recorded type). In previous blog posts I have supported the view of people like Keith Ferrazzi (author of “Never Eat Alone”) that networking is not about keeping score. Also, one of my favourite quotes on networking is from Mick Cope (who wrote the FT’s book “Personal Networking”) – he puts forward the view that a network is about having contacts who support you, NOT that you sell to.

I find the BNI model interesting – but it does challenge my views on networking. The BNI’s “Handbook” – “Networking like a PRO” by Dr. Ivan Misner – makes a strong point about being a “Farmer” not a “Hunter”. I struggle to see how you are a “Farmer” when you keep score on a day-to-day basis. Does BNI – or Simon – get a “cut” of the referrals? Is this a “sale” to friends – or just the generosity of a good networker (with a small “thank you” attached).

I’m going to track down Simon in King’s Lynn – and ask him for his comments/thoughts. It would be good to meet an excellent personal networker – and I’d like to get his views on “keeping score”.

Holiday Reading, Tom Peters and the Cheshire Cat

August 25, 2010 3 comments

I am off on holiday in the morning – and I’m going to split my reading time between finishing off my current Personal Network book – “Trust Agents” by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith (I can hear you fellow bloggers saying “I can’t believe you’ve not read that already!”), digging in to a “leisure” read by one of my favourite authors, Michael Dobbs (his new book – “The Reluctant Hero”) – and using Tom Peters “The Brand You” as a workbook to help set my personal objectives.

If you’ve not tried “The Brand You” book by Tom Peters – it’s a brilliant read. Mick Cope (whose book “Personal Networking” I reviewed in an earlier blog post) recommended the book to me. Mick said: “I have always loved the Brand You stuff by Tom Peters – which although was picked up by

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some people – never really found its mark.” After ordering a copy (it’s a classic from 1999 – but not too hard to find) I read it within 48 hours. I have always liked the passion of Tom Peters. I remember during tricky times in my business during the early 1990s playing the audio tape of “Thriving on Chaos” over and over in car as I tried to work my way through the development/growing pains of my company. I have no less enthusiasm for Tom’s work revisiting his teachings some 20 years on.

On the inside cover of the book, he lists his key ideas around Brand You – which he expands through the book. I will certainly be spending time deliberating on many of these ideas and questions:-

* “Routinely asks the Question: WHO AM I?/WHAT DO I WANT TO BE?” – Very relevant after 4 years being “funemployed”
* “Pursues Mastery of something!” Can I really become a Master of Personal Networks – and can I use this Mastery to help others?
* “Selects Clients v-e-r-y carefully/Rejects Clients who are a bad match” Cool discipline to have … and I have no excuse because I don’t need the work. Nice position to be in – but don’t cock up and get distracted by wanting to be all things to all men….
* “Is a Rolodex Maniac/Networks like Crazy!” Well you can tell this is a 1999 book (no mention of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc). Glad he really values the role of Personal Networks in success.
* “Is a ‘Renewal Fanatic’/Cultivates curiosity/Takes every opportunity to learn s-o-m-e-t-h-i-n-g new!” I love change – and I’m enthused by learning about Personal Networks. How to I keep this curiosity focussed?

So, a time to review with some good books. I think the three key areas that I need to investigate to help understand my Personal Network journey are:-

* Personal Branding. As Tom puts it “Your are the CEO of your Life” – so I’d best understand and be able to present my “brand”
* Social Networking. It’s the buzz of the moment – and I love the digital age – but how does this fit in to Personal Networks? I believe it’s a smaller, and less important, part of our life than people currently think.
* Personal Objectives. Where do I want to go? Otherwise, all other things don’t have a focus or fall in to place. The Cheshire Cat expresses this best in Alice in Wonderland:-

“Which road do I take?” (Alice)
“Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then, said the cat, it doesn’t matter.”
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” (Cheshire Cat)

Holiday reading will be a lot less testing than the questions… Who I Am – and Where do I Want to Go!

Personal Networking – Mick Cope – Review

August 3, 2010 2 comments

I had mentioned in an earlier post that I’d alway used an FT Business book as my “bible” for Business Planning. Mick Cope had quite an act to follow with his book – “Personal Networking”.


The book is both a “quick read” and a “handbook”.

QUICK READ – Taken at speed you can get lots of interesting snippets and quotes that are extremely useful.  My favourite

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quote from the first chapter is:-

“By professional networking I mean a set of close contacts or associates who will help deliver my value to market. The key thing is that these are people who will ‘help’ you in the market, THEY ARE NOT THE MARKET. Sorry for the full-on letters, but my definition of a network is ‘people who will help amplify my personal capital in the market’, not a bunch of friends and colleagues to whom I try to sell under the guise of giving them a great opportunity. Active management of these people is not networking; it is client relationship management, a whole different ball game and one deliberately not covered in this book.”

I really like this comment – and Mick’s general ethos on networking. I particularly agree with the emphasis on the difference between CRM and Personal Networking. My personal interest in the area of Personal Networks started with investigating CRM. I see that CRM is much more about “keeping the score” and sharing contacts – your personal network is a very different thing.

HANDBOOK – The book is extremely thorough and introduces processes you can follow to analyse your network and evaluate your connections in a visual way. There are good illustrations throughout – and Mick produces detailed tables to support the writing. This coupled with the detailed coverage of every element of networking makes this a great bookshelf reference.

It might be easy to assume this book is out of date – first published in 2003 – but I think that networking is just networking (on-line or real world) … and this book keeps you focussed on the basic principles. Don’t expect any tips on LinkedIn or Twitter strategies though!

Mike’s website (Wizoz) – offers links to Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.  Take a look – and consider buying a copy. It’s not quite the “bible” my FT Business Book was – but it definitely should be on the reference shelf for networkers.

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