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Business Networking to Make an Impression: Get Personal

I've had this blog post in drafts for quite some time, but just hadn't posted it. I was going through my many drafts and found it and boy was I embarrassed. I thought I'd posted this a long time ago. oops!

So, grab a cup of your favorite drink. (I've got a glass of Merlot. Go ahead and grab something yummy. I'll wait.)

It's story time….

At the NAMS in August of last year (2009), I met a guy named Dan Morris. That's him over there ->

I didn't particularly care for him. 😉 I felt he was a bit aloof.

Normally my gut instinct on people is dead on. But, I totally missed the boat on this one.

I met this same guy again in January of this year (again at NAMS) and he grew on me. Quickly.

(He says that there's about a six month grace period before people like him. He's funny like that.)

Anyway, in January at NAMS, we were hanging out in the hotel lobby telling stories and I told one from many moons ago back when I was working at a camp, the summer after I graduated from high school.

Here's the story…

You see, I was a camp counselor (I lived at a girls camp that summer).

One week, we decided to go on a field trip with our girls to an air show that was nearby. I had 6th grade girls most of that summer and that was the age of this group.

Well, one of the girls was having a rough time. I think she struggled a bit, in general. I don't know her whole story, but she was certainly not happy to be at camp or to listen to me most of the time. It didn't keep me from trying, though.

Obviously, when the van pulled up at the air show, I was planning on keeping close watch on her. So, when she left the van with her backpack on, I took note. I knew it was none of my business as to why she wanted it with her, but I was concerned — and I was right.

As we were walking, I kept noticing she was looking over her shoulder so I stuck close. And, sure enough, she took off.

Well, as an 18 year old girl, what do I do? I run after her, not thinking about what would happen when I caught her. I just didn't want to lose her in the crowd.

So, I ran after her and eventually caught her — which became a problem. I called her name a few times and it only made her run faster, so, eventually I tackled the poor girl in the gravel.

You can imagine the faces of the people around us, staring at us. I figured I'd be talking to security in minutes. I mean, an 18 year old tackling a 12 year old? Not pretty. Plus we were both pretty scratched up and sweaty. I'm sure we were pretty scary looking.

I had no idea what to do. Obviously this wasn't in our pre-camp training. So I held up my little wooden name tag that had my camp name on it (not even my real name) and yelled “It ok. I'm a camp counselor!”

For some reason, that appeased the onlookers and they started to walk away. (Bizarre, right?!) So, she and I stood up, patched ourselves up, had a long talk, and we went back to the field trip.

Well, after that day, she and I bonded. That girl wrote to me for years after that. I often wonder about her to this day and hope she's found happiness.

Well, this story makes me giggle to this day, and I was laughing (and probably snorting while laughing) while telling it. I mean, a wooden name tag? GEEZ. But then NAMS ended and I went home and forgot completely about sharing the story.

When I got home from NAMS, Dan emailed me and asked for my address. He said he had something he wanted to send me. I figured it was a greeting card or a business card or motivational CD or something. You know. The usual stuff – which is all very thoughtful.

Well, I got a box in the mail. When I opened it I found a framed picture of this:

Yes, Dan had commissioned a drawing of the story that I had told. And, I laughed my butt off. (My favorite part is how all the adults look horrified, but the kids are all smiling.) lol. So true! It is now hanging in my office and it's one of my favorite gifts ever.

The lesson? Dan knows networking.

What did Dan do that was right?

  • He paid attention.
  • He did something personal, that I know he didn't just mail to every single person at NAMS. (Because if he did, well that'd just be silly.)
  • He did something that stood out to me.

And, for that, he made a friend for life.

You ever hear of the law of reciprocity?  Well, this post is the start of it. And, yes, you can bet, when Dan needs something, I'll do my best to help.

If you'd like to get to know Dan Morris, check out his blog Letters from Dan. He's someone worth knowing.

Thanks for sharing my story time. And, have a great day!

Nicole Dean

PS. If you'd like to hang with me and Dan and a bunch of other cool people, please join us at NAMS in January.

I appreciate shares and I adore comments! Please share your thoughts.

  • Dan Morris

    Well, that was mighty nice of you to write about me that way. I can’t say I’m proud of the “six month” acclimation period, but I can tell you that it’s been tested many, many times. Unfortunately, dry sarcasm is hard for people to adjust to. 🙂

    As far as networking goes, I find it much easier to make friends than to make “business friends”. I do try really hard to be a good friend, which I learned growing up a military brat. People who strategically network do so at their own risk. To give so you can ask creates a relationship that ends once the “transaction” has taken place.

    Your offer to help when I need it is a great business definition of reciprocity, but as far as I can tell – it’s also called friendship. Whether it’s “bookmarking” your blog post or watching your dog while on vacation, the end result of networking should be the same as the reason you started the journey. Friendship on every level.

    Thanks for the kind words, I look forward to seeing you soon – Dan

    • Nicole

      And that, my friend, is why you totally rock at networking. Because you don’t come at someone with dollar signs in your eyes.

      I’ve been at the receiving end of “networking for dollars” and it’s creepy — like buying a used car from a salesperson who doesn’t care whether your new vehicle makes it a mile down the road or not. All they see is the money in your bank account. ((shudder))

      Thank you for being one of the good guys!

  • Leigha Baer

    Great post Nichole! I love your story, it cracked me up and Dan’s image is great. That really was special and I can see why you love it.

    As for Dan, I too began a wonderful friendship with Dan Morris at NAMS. He is a great all around guy, a super Dad, and someone I am so happy to know. I still haven’t figured out how he gets everything he does done! All I can hope is that it wears off on me.

    Thanks for sharing your story and your picture Nichole. I enjoyed them both.

  • Lisa Wells

    That’s a funny story Nicole! And that is such a great picture Dan – love it. I got on pretty good with Dan but then I’m also dry and sarcastic 😉

    I remember back when I was a word processor 20 years ago and one of the men I worked for had a side biz doing MLM. This was my first introduction to that type of business and I would cringe when he would have me type letters to his friends, acquaintances, and even his dentist! When he would meet people it was always with dollar signs and never genuine and I could feel that people picked up on that.

    Like we heard at NAMS, we aren’t building businesses as much as we are building relationships.

  • Lisa Marie Mary

    Love this! Great camp story and great friendship/networking story, too – what a wonderful gift Dan gave you. I absolutely love it! And I love the way Dan thinks of ‘networking’ – that you’re just making friends, not really ‘connections’, you know? And if something comes from it? Fine. If not? You’ve got a new friend. That’s groovy!

  • Evelyn Roberts Brooks

    Cute story – and making new friends is really cool, in all settings.

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