Monday, February 10, 2003

Author advocates taking ACTION

'Queen of Networking' has plan for New Year

Consultant and author Andrea R. Nierenberg has gotten a lot of mileage out of a USA Today story that dubbed her the "Queen of Networking."The author of Nonstop Networking brings her one-woman brand to Cincinnati to the Direct Marketing Association Southern Ohio Chapter luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. May 8 at the Montgomery Inn Banquet Center, 601 E. Pete Rose Way downtown.

She spoke with Enquirer business reporter John Eckberg about how companies can develop new business approaches for a new year.

Question: It's a month into the new year, long enough to have broken personal resolutions, but there is still time for company resolutions or business resolutions. Any ideas?

Answer: Take the acronym "ACTION." Start with A and your employees. Whether you are senior management or middle management, or whatever your job, show some appreciation. Make it a point to show appreciation to your employees.

• Who: Andrea R. Nierenberg, author of Nonstop Networking
• Age: 46
• Residence: New York City
• Books on the nightstand: Listen Up, Leader by David Cottrell; The Connective Edge by Jean Lipman-Blumen; and Robert Crayhon's Nutrition Made Simple: A Comprehensive Guide to the Latest Findings in Optimal Nutrition by Robert Crayhon.
• Compact disks in the player: Romanza by Andrea Bocelli; Paint the Sky with Stars by Enya; Lifescapes by Pachelbel; Mended by Marc Anthony
• Magazines in the magazine rack: Vogue, Fortune, Opportunity World, Harvard Business Review, Lucky, Allure
In today's world, people are your most valuable property and commodity. You want to retain your best people. Show appreciation. One client said to me, "You know, that was such a good idea that I actually sent somebody a note and said `thank you.' "

It's amazing how people will do more work for you.

C - Communicate. Everyone says we all communicate, but we really don't. Even though we might say we're listening, we really don't sometimes understand the other person. I made it a point to tell my clients this year to really listen to people who come into your office.

Listen to people in meetings. We hear but we don't listen. It's like following that carpenter's rule: Measure twice but cut once. Really listen to people in your office or your meetings. You will avoid mistakes and that will definitely go down to the bottom line.

T - Communicate more as a team. The whole team can play, as Babe Ruth said. Whether the whole team plays well is what it's about. In a lot of companies you have great individuals but they don't play well together so they're not worth a dime.

Business is teamwork but people don't know how to work in teams: pay attention to co-workers, follow up. It's common sense but it's just not common practice.

Q: You always hear there is no "I" in team, but neither is there a paycheck in team. Most people get paychecks based upon individual initiative, individual accomplishments. Why should any employee strive to work as part of a team?

A: You're right. But if everyone works on the same page, profits will increase. I read once when people go to a white-collar jail, they are seated around the table and told to work as a team and that if one person screws up, everybody will go over across the street to the tougher prison where there are people who aren't as nice. All of a sudden people see the value of teamwork.

Sure we are paid based on our own measure and accomplishments but the great employees inspire others to work together.

Q: Finish the word, what does I stand for?

A: I - Is for investing in yourself. The idea is that realize when you go into a meeting at a company somebody is going to be judging you. So look at how you present yourself.

Look at your personal integrity. In the grocery store of life, what are you doing to enhance your brand image? What are you doing to make somebody pick you up off the shelf? You should work to come across as somebody who is constantly thinking about the good of the company.

O - Stands for opportunities. Look to start the year off fresh. The month off fresh. The week off fresh. The day off fresh. O can also stand for being organized. If everybody in the company were organized, people would be doing a service to themselves and to their fellow employees. We've all been in meetings that go on and on and on. Meetings could be shortened if people had an agenda and would be organized.

The final letter is N - Network. And remember that the opposite of networking is notworking. Be accessible to everyone you meet. Increase your visibility and your circle of influence. You don't just need to network when you need a job.

You need a network to build alliances and connections and advocates throughout the company. Find ways to develop relationships up, down, sideways and across.

Q: Any other professional New Year's resolutions?

A: I think people need to write things down. When all is said and done, more is usually said than done. What I do is write things down. I make a commitment. Look at it this way: If you make a commitment, write it down. It's too vague otherwise. Be specific in your resolutions. But make your commitments smaller, something that's manageable.

Remember, inch by inch, it's a cinch.

Yard by yard, it's hard.


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