What a dog can teach you about networking

Chloe the Wonder DogMeet Chloe the Wonder Dog. She belongs to my nephew Scott and is one of the coolest, friendliest and savviest canines I’ve ever met. She is so amazing, she inspired a valuable networking lesson that you really need to know about for your own savvy-ness and even safety.

Here goes.

Last summer I was driving up the driveway of my nephew’s farm just south of Minneapolis in a car I had borrowed from the friends with whom I was staying. As I pulled in, Chloe the Wonder Dog came bounding toward the car at top speed, all 8 pounds of her. Not in a vicious, who-goes-there, barky kind of way. More like a “Yay! Yay! Yay! Look who’s here!” kind of way. I slowed as she approached so as not to hit her, opened my door, and – guess what?  She hopped right in, licked my face, and took the seat next to me as I completed the drive up to the house.

Mind you, I’ve only met this dog once before and it had been more than a year since I’d last seen her. And she had never seen this car before. How did she know who I was?

Family members gathered all got a good laugh out of Chloe’s cheekiness. I was flattered she even remembered me. Meanwhile, my sister Liz, a retired elementary school principal who has raised three savvy daughters, noted, “We might need to talk to Chloe about Stranger Danger…”

Nah. Not Chloe. She knows what’s what and who’s who.  Here’s why: That dog is a seasoned, smart, savvy hunter with instincts and survival skills that rival those of any wild predators. She follows the wisdom in her canine DNA. My nephew reports she will be gone all day and then will return to the house with her own dinner in her mouth – something she tracked and caught out in the fields. Or with a bloodstained grin and gooey paws that proves she’s all good and will pass on the dog chow, thank you very much.

Here’s the lesson: Chloe has instincts about life, survival, and people – and so do you. And you should listen to them. But sometimes we humans get tangled up in our logical brains.

I know, I know. Many of my recent blogs instruct you to say “Good morning” and “Hello” to the people around you, even if they are currently strangers. That is a great plan if you want to meet people. However, listen to your gut, too. If something seems odd, a conversation gets weird, or you feel uncomfortable about anyone around you, heed those instincts.

While most people in the world are good, there are indeed people out there who are bad news: annoying, clingy, aggressive and possibly even dangerous.

How to know who is who?

Probably the best book out there on how to sharpen your instincts about people is one by Gavin deBecker – The Gift of Fear. I read it more than 10 years ago when three people recommended it in the course of a week. One was a client who said it was mandatory reading for all female employees in  her company, especially those who travel. The second and third are gorgeous women who are rock stars (one figuratively, the other literally) who have numerous fans and followers and are often recognized as “famous” by the general public.

Me? I’m just someone who loves people, travels some, and just wants to be safe and more intentional about the people with whom I do business and associate.

So how are you balancing your desire to be friendly – and your need to avoid or disengage from people who could create problems in your world? How can you channel your inner Chloe the Wonder Dog, and be in tune to who’s friend and who could be a foe?

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