“The Care and Feeding of Your Network” Event – Il Fornaio on 2-29-12

IABC-LA Members participated in an engaging, interactive presentation entitled “The Care and Feeding of Your Network” at Il Fornaio in Manhattan Beach on 2-29-12.  Are you an introvert or an extrovert when making connections at specific events?  When you hear the phrase “networking event” do you dismiss the whole concept as too much smiling-and-business-card-exchange work? Are you one of the 99% of people who are full of …. (rhymes with “it”!) when it comes to follow-through according to author and expert connector Peter Shankman?

Presenters and L.A. Chapter Board Members Cheryl Farrell, Chris Cabrera, Paula Cassin and Christie Ly presented valuable statistics, and tips on much deeper networking practices, with interactive exercises on ice breakers, elevator pitches, connecting, and the importance of follow-up! The evening allowed extrovert and introvert members to practice and engage with each other going beyond status-quo networking while getting to know one another’s expertise and even passions.  Lots of buzz in the warm and toasty Il Fornaio room as new conversations and new connections were being made.

Cheryl Farrell of Cheryl Farrell Communications presented tips for panic-free interactions with “strangers”.  Cheryl cited Myers-Briggs research on introverts vs. extroverts behavior as being misunderstood.  Myers-Briggs states what types of people, activities and events gives you energy determines introvert and extrovert status.  Many of us may be a blend depending on activities.  Cheryl discussed how we may test ice breakers in safe places, be well read with conversational topics and reframe initial introductions with less “me focus” and more outward focus in an “exchange of attention.”

Chris Cabrera engaged members on the subject of elevator pitches.  Elevator pitches need to be crisp and to the point, compelling with an attention-grabbing phrase and spoken with confidence.  We congratulated new member Betty Henry who tried her elevator pitch out for the first time in front of the group, and Charlotte Lassos who bravely demonstrated her elevator pitch.  The elevator pitch concept sounds easier than it looks, even for professional communicators, yet is an essential component of deeper networking.

Paula Cassin discussed connecting vs. standard business-card-exchange networking.  Truly connecting involves not only connecting to a new contact, yet also who you may be able to connect that person to who may need a specific resource.  By removing the expectation that a new contact must do something for you immediately if you do something for them right now allows for a longer-term payoff and certainly a more authentic connection.  During one interactive exercise, Paula asked us to write down 1) our passion, 2) something we are looking for right now, and 3) our expertise…and then engage and connect to others in the room looking for intersecting interests and needs, professionally and personally.

And finally, Christie Ly discussed the importance of follow-through, which according to author and expert networker, Peter Shankman, is a serious faux-pas for most networking people in his article “Why Most People Are Full of S…, and How Not to Be One of Them.” We all want to be thought of as “the nice guy” yet follow-through is where the other 1% lives.  Follow-through takes work yet can be a huge pay-off. Christie discussed how important it is to help others make connections if you mentioned a contact or resource.  To support the follow-through ideal, IABC-LA member Anna Lefter told of her early work experience with PR pro Carl Terzian, who wrote handwritten notes after initial introductions and kept a journal on contacts so he could remember children’s names, interests, and other professional and personal facts.

We were delighted to welcome new chapter members Deborah Hudson of Zurich Insurance and Betty Henry, while seeing participants Chris Keough of Belkin, Anna Lefter, Charlotte Lassos, Anne Giblin, Allison Mullin, Kerry Bonner, and former chapter president Jamie Lipson who was a terrific sport in revealing her favorite guilty-pleasure t.v. show “The Bachelor”!

Big thanks to presenters Cheryl Farrell, host and presenter Chris Cabrera, Paula Cassin and Christie Ly with event assistance from the awesome Cimone Farrell.  We also appreciated the roaring fireplace and the calamari hors d’oeuvres.  Great connections were made by all!

Melcrum’s “What Does the Future Hold for Internal Communication?”

May 10, 2011…IABC-LA held an exclusive event “What Does the Future Hold for Internal Communication?” for 25 participants presented by Melcrum’s Strategic Communication Research Forum.  Melcrum is an internal communications company dedicated to offering domestic and global clients comprehensive body of knowledge of best practices, toolkits and research on every level of internal communication.  Jeff Hostler, Melcrum Vice President Research and Content, presented some eye-opening research such as “people don’t leave companies, people leave managers of companies.”  Jeff was accompanied by Melcrum’s Key Accounts Executive, Mike Dombo. Mike briefly described  Melcrum’s Black Belt Program which sets the standard for internal comms globally and the basis for research data presented during the evening.

IABC-LA Social Media Chair dynamo, Rebecca Mikkelsen, introduced Jeff Hostler who led us through a discussion starting with the post-recessional environment. Companies must rebuild trust and re-engineer respective employee value propositions.  Later, Jeff covered corporate structure and management style, roles and responsibilities, partnerships, technology, research and measurement and more with an emphasis on outcomes, not just outputs.
• Companies must take into account how four cross-generational groups of employees must interact and communicate with each other…and then think globally, culturally as well.

• The great challenge of evolving internal communications, no longer just a function “sitting on the side of the desk.”  Developing processes to support trust and transparency as well as sustainability is a key factor.

•  Building 10% more trust equates to 36% more pay increases for employees.  Now that’s positive!

Jeff also discussed partnerships and the importance of ensuring consistency across channels and stakeholders, as well how execs can foster trust without just pushing info out. 

On the topic of technology, Jeff purposely did not discuss social media in-depth, yet stressed connecting with local IT to collaborate on defined goals.  Too many internal comms departments put the FaceBook horse before the business strategies cart, without first evaluating whether specific social media is applicable.  Business priorities must lead over choosing tech methods. That said, too many companies also negated employees’ social media use by banning use during work hours, only to discover employees have smart phones in their purses and pockets to access social media anyway. 

Jeff also covered research and measurement and again, emphasized how important it was to measure outcomes not output.  It is internal comms responsibility to prove the value of a specific suggested strategy, which does require extra work time.  It’s not enough to know that 4,000 employees actually read an email (output)…how did they act on it (outcome)?   Company internal comms mistake survey answers from employees who state they understand a company’s business goals, yet that’s not a measurement…how do the actions of the employees support the business goals?

There were some excellent feedback and suggestions from our savvy participants providing terrific takeaways for everyone.  Chris Cabrera of Southern California Edison described a truly innovative employee resource group at SCE supporting SCE’s employee value proposition.
Big Thanks to the incomparable Gail Herring and Toyota for hosting the event.  Gail also serves on the chapter board as Treasurer.  Participants were also very appreciative to meet and hear experts Jeff Hostler and Mike Dombo of Melcrum, and to partner with Melcrum on senior internal communications events.

Please see video posted on YouTube at http://youtu.be/b54ZNZ9X5cI