Monthly Archives: November 2011

Effective Business Networking

Hello fellow professionals out there!

Today’s topic is on effective business networking.

Last week I attended an H.R. (Human Resources)-related networking function here in Toronto, as the guest speaker was the author of a book I had first read a few years ago and I really enjoyed the positive message about living life to the fullest, and having great communication skills (at least that’s what I got out of it).  The book is called Tapping the Iceberg by Tim Cork, and I highly recommend it.  Anyway, I went to this networking function to see if I could get my book signed (which I did) and maybe meet some HR professionals who might be interested in learning more about how communication coaching could benefit their company executives and managers, or how a group workshop can be both cost-effective and beneficial to their staff training.

I met as many people as I could without rushing conversations, and I asked for introductions to others whom I had not met.  I politely interrupted some people (with a smile) to include myself in their conversations, and I spent time with them in deep, meaningful learning exchanges, complete with a swapping of cards.

While I was there I noticed that some people seemed to be a bit shy starting conversations with people they had not met yet (i.e. “strangers”), even though we had name-tags on.

Now I understand that it can be difficult for some people to make small talk with strangers.  That is why I have a course on how to overcome that social challenge.  However the interesting thing to me is that this particular event was specifically set up to network, and even focused on one industry (HR) – which one might assume would increase the level of comfort in the room even among strangers. Not so I guess.  There were still those who were wallflowers and who were just talking to their friends and only engaged with others if approached first.

The lesson I want to share with you is to remember that at networking events you have a choice:  be a Guest or be The Host.  A guest sits waiting for others to take care of them, and a host pro-actively ensures others are having a good time and meets and greets constantly.  The host is remembered and the guest is often not, especially at a large event.  You are there for a short time and with a mission – to find and build connections.  There is no reason to be shy with starting conversations with a smile and no reason why you don’t have the right to pursue career advancement by networking.  Networking at a networking event is like shooting fish in a barrel – as long as you are not shy with the trigger.

Be The Host.

Happy hunting,

Coach Ric

No Call Equals No Sale, and No Return Customer

This story starts off with great customer service, and then unfortunately leads to disappointment.

On October 11th of this year I was searching for Star Trek TOS (The Original Series) Season 2 box set, which had been digitally remastered in 2008 and I was just getting around to collecting the DVDs this year.  (I am a life-long Trekkie!)

I had already watched all of season 1 and was on the hunt for the season 2 box set.  I went to HMV at Yonge/Bloor and they didn’t have it.  I went to Sunrise Records & Tapes and they didn’t have it either, but the staff including the manager bent over backwards trying to either locate it in the back or see if it was lying around somewhere hiding.  I really appreciated their effort.  In the end of all I decided to place an order with the manager for Season 2, since it was not in the store, and I purchased Season 3 which was in the store.  Hey it was even 10 bucks cheaper there than at HMV, so why not?

Sounds like pretty good customer service right?  Winning the business away from the large conglomerate HMV?  Yes…until…

I gave the manager my name, phone number and wrote out specific details of what I was putting on order.  He promised to call as soon as it was in.  He assured me that that little piece of paper would not get lost, and it would be ordered promptly.

Today is November 25th and there has not been any phone call from the Sunrise manager or staff to either say “Hey Geek!  Your Star Trek is in!  Come pick it up before we sell it to another Trekkie!” or
“Sorry for the delay Sir, your order will take longer than expected, but we are working on it” or
“Are you sure you really want Star Trek?” or any other voice message.


I guess I will have to look to eBay or go back to HMV.  Maybe it’s worth paying the extra 10 bucks if the big stores have better ordering systems.  Maybe I was fooled by the personalized care and concern from the littler store, and have now paid the price by being forced to watch the 3rd season before the 2nd (Yes that’s right – I watched it.  I couldn’t wait!)

The message here is you must keep your word to keep your customers.  If you promise to order an item, then order the damned thing and keep in contact with your customer if there will be delays.  Christmas is coming and I like to buy CDs and DVDs for my loved ones, and myself.  Where do you think I will be shopping?  HINT – I already purchased a CD today at HMV.

Sorry Sunrise.  You had me at “Hello!” but lost me at “We’ll call you.”

Buy a Poppy, Wear a Poppy – Remember

wear a poppy over your heart!

You will see many people wearing a plastic Poppy (red flower) on their lapel (collar) these days, in Canada, the UK and maybe some parts of the U.S.A.

November 11th is Remembrance Day (Veteran’s Day in the US) and it is time to remember the fallen soldiers who have died in battle in our various wars in history.  The tradition started after the end of World War 1.

If you are not sure what wearing the poppy symbolizes, I can help.

1 – it is a symbol to remember the fallen soldiers who have fought for your/our country/freedom
2 – you wear it on your left lapel/collar, over your heart, but not on your right side
3 – it is not a symbol supporting war
4 – it is not a peace symbol
5 – it is not a fashion piece
6 – money raised goes to help veterans (returned soldiers) live a little more comfortably
7 – You do not have to be from Canada, UK or USA to wear one.  You can wear one to honour your own country’s losses in previous war.  It is about remembering soldiers, but not only the soldiers from Canada, UK and USA.
8 – It is a personal decision, but not a political or religious one.

I wear a poppy every year, without fail.  My grandfather, Harold Phillips, fought in WW II, and survived.  His brother was not so lucky.  I wear a poppy to honour them and their comrades.

More info can be found here on the Poppy and the history: 

A famous poem was written by a Canadian Medic in WWI named John McCrae.  The poem is about poppies growing in Flanders Fields.  It is called ‘In Flanders Fields’.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae