The Number One Way to Totally Fail at Networking

Who spends countless hours networking hoping to fail and see no results from their efforts?  That’s right, no one!  So, it blows my mind that I commonly see people single-handedly sabotaging their success–they guarantee their own failure by failing to follow up with the contacts they make.

Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There’s a story I was once told by one of my employees which perfectly demonstrates this and I’d like to share it with you here . . . (Note: The names in this story have been changed to protect the innocent . . . and the guilty.)

My employee, whom we’ll call Winnifred (since she’d like to remain anonymous and it’s the most unfitting name for her that I can think of . . . well, aside from maybe Gertrude ;-)), was in need of a graphic designer to assist her with the creation of a website for her father’s business. She attended a local networking mixer where she met a graphic designer, “Blake,” who seemed excited about the project and claimed he could accomplish exactly what she needed at a very reasonable price.

They exchanged contact information and connected the next week by phone to discuss the project in further detail. Winnifred was pleased with Blake’s ideas and liked the examples she’d seen of his work. She told him he seemed like the perfect person to help her with the project and that she’d like him to send her a price quote as soon as possible.

A week went by and Winnifred heard nothing from Blake.  When she called him, he said he was working on a quote and gave some lame excuse about being busy. Another week went by and, again, nothing from Blake. Frustrated, but willing to give Blake another chance because she really did like his work, she sent him an e-mail and left him a voicemail saying that she would love to give him her business and was really anxious to hear back from him.

After two weeks went by without hearing back from him, Winnifred found another graphic designer. To this day, Blake has never responded.

Here is what floors me . . . I know for a fact that this guy, “Blake,” is still frequenting local networking mixers (which cost money to attend, by the way) trying to drum up more business. Yet when he had money practically sitting on the table in front of him, he failed to follow through. No matter what his reason was for not getting back to Winnifred–being too busy, too lazy or whatever else–he shouldn’t be out there networking if he can’t follow through on what he claims to be able to deliver. He’s wasting his time (and money) and, more important, he’s wasting other people’s time–which is earning him nothing more than a bad name.

The moral of this story: If you aren’t prepared to follow through, networking is no more than a big waste of time.

If you have a “Blake the Flake” story of your own, I’d love to hear about your experience. Please feel free to share your story in the comments section.

How to Combat the Fear of Failure

We all deal with the fear of failure from time to time.  I know I certainly do.  It’s a part of life and it can sometimes cripple us to the point where we’re so afraid of failing at something that we’d rather not even try.  So, what can we do about it?  How can we move past it in order to achieve our greatest goals, dreams, and desires?

Well, the answer is simple.  We stop worrying about whether or not we are going to fail because–guess what?–we very well may and that’s okay!  It’s inevitable; we are all going to be successful at some things and we’re going to fail at other things.  The key is to refuse to define ourselves by our failures and commit instead to both learning from our failures and defining ourselves by our successes.

In this video, I tell a personal story about a time when I was virtually frozen in fear because I was so preoccupied with the prospect of failure, and I explain how it helped me to realize the key to combatting the fear of failure.  The fact is, if we always try, we can eventually win.  But if we let fear keep us from even trying, we will fail without a doubt.

Is there something that you currently want to accomplish, big or small, but haven’t attempted to start because you’re afraid of failing?  If so, make a list of one action you can take each day (no matter how small) for the next week which will help get the ball rolling and move you toward accomplishing what you want to do.  Then, when the week is over, repeat the process of mapping out and completing small daily actions every coming week–before you know it, you will have made real progress!

If you have a story about a time fear of failure stopped you from doing something, or a time you overcame your fear of failure and accomplished something important to you, please share it in the comment forum below–I’d love to hear from you!

What Is Success & How Is It Defined?

No matter what we call it, we all pursue success.  We all have desires and strive to achieve them.  Our desires may be different from anyone else’s, and we may not consider achieving them to be “success.”  We look around and see people whose success we envy.  What is Jake doing with his supply of hours in any given day that puts him so far ahead of me in money, friends, and influence?  Why is he successful, and why am I not?  Why is he flying his own Learjet while I’m rattling around in this two-year-old Jaguar?  Why is she living in a new house and raising three perfect children while I’m still looking for a mate?  Why is that guy’s cardboard box so much bigger than mine, and where did he get that king-size shopping cart?

But without knowing all the facts, without being inside the mind of the other person, you can’t say whether that person is more successful than you.  Maybe he’s worth $100 million but is unhappy because his goal was to become governor by the age of 40 and he’s growing tired of the frenetic pursuit of power.  And maybe you are not as wealthy as you wanted to be, but on the other hand you’ve made it through great personal difficulties and are pleased to have kept your finances afloat and family intact.  Which of you is more successful?  Fulfilling any personal desire is success by any reasonable definition, and you’ve achieved some very important and satisfying goals.

The measure of your success is how well you use your productive time to achieve the goals that are important to you.  Not how you stack up compared to everybody else–but how well you’ve used your own abilities and resources to achieve worthy goals, however humble, for yourself and the people who are important to you.  Who knows?  That would-be governor may be watching you and saying to himself, “I’m a miserable failure.  When did I decide money was more important than enjoying my work?  Why didn’t I stay off the fast track and spend more time with my kids?  Why can’t I take it easy and enjoy life like George is doing?”

Dictionaries define success as the achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted.  But in real life, success is a slippery concept, especially when you come to your own personal definition of it.  Success is a relative thing and highly personal.  Many an exhausted high achiever has reached a lofty goal only to discover that it was a false peak, that the true summit loomed much higher.  Others have reached the highest heights only to find them barren and empty and then realized the only way down was . . . down.  Yet many a modest achiever has trekked through a lifetime of rocky trails and boggy swamps to realize, after all, what a glorious and rewarding trip it has been.  And the ex-addict who’s stacking lumber?  Every day on the job can be a victory.

So, now that you have an idea of how ephemeral this notion of success is, how do you go about achieving it?  If you’re looking for a generic formula, you won’t find it–there is none.  Success depends on timing, circumstances, situations, and–most important–your own perception of what success is.  Nor is there a mathematical standard for measuring when and how thoroughly you’ve achieved it.  There are many ways to measure success, but in the final analysis, it’s how you measure it for yourself that truly counts.

I’m curious . . . how do you personally measure success?  I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

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