Networking tips & life advice from the plastic bins

Business woman writing in agenda.See if this scenario sounds familiar: You go to an event, conference, lecture, or workshop. You listen attentively to a brilliant (or reasonably interesting) presenter or panel. You take notes; the inspiring sound bites and priceless tidbits of information you want to remember; the wisdom and data that seem vitally important at the time.  You take the notes back to your home or office. You stash them in a pile or a file. The dust gathers.

Then what?

If you’re like me, your notes eventually end up filed away in neat little 12 x 10 x 15 inch bins purchased at Office Depot.

The people who know me know these bins.  They are sometimes the first thing they see when they enter my office. The presence of these bins alternatively comforts me (hey, I still have those notes!) and haunts me (oh geez, I still have those notes…).

No more!

This year I’ve decided to dig into the bins and the notebooks and begin a massive information mining and curation project. I’m pulling the notebooks one by one, reading through them, and culling out the useful nuggets; the stuff that’s pertinent and useful to me – and maybe even to you as well.  If the term Notebook Archaeologist isn’t currently recognized as a legitimate title, I’m changing that here and now.

Today’s topic:  the Power of Five. I heard this at a lecture by John C. Maxwell.   Maxwell analyzed the Five Things he had to do every day in order to fulfill his dream to be a successful and impactful author, speaker, pastor, and leadership expert.  His Five Things were:  Read, Think, File, Ask Questions, and Write.  Yes, he does these things faithfully everyday.  Even Sundays and holidays.

Okay, so several years later I’m still trying to pare down what my Five Things are, but that’s not the point.

I do know there are (at least) Five Things you can do each day – at the very least each week if you are extremely busy – that will lead you to becoming a more Intentional Networker. Here they are:

  1. Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know (or don’t know very well).
  2. Contact an old friend, colleague, co-worker, or customer just to see how they are.
  3. Follow up or make good on a promise you made in passing conversation (a lunch or coffee date, a connection, a piece of needed information, your feedback on a draft or presentation, etc.)
  4. Post something of value (informative, interesting, funny, or timely) on social media.
  5. Weed out your database, address book, contact list, rolodex, or business card file.

The last one often surprises people, but try it. There are always people in your life / career / sphere who haven’t really earned your trust or aren’t really “your people.” And according to evolutionary anthropologist Robin Dunbar, we humans have a hard time keeping up real relationships with more than 150 people.  Maybe you’re still building up to that, but nevertheless it doesn’t hurt to get clear on who is taking up space in your world.

If these Five Intentional Networking Things don’t keep you busy enough, you can get even more intentional and think about what your Five Things are. What activities do you need to do every day to achieve your visions, intentions, and goals?  Can’t wait to hear what they are!

In the meantime, I’ll be culling through the bins in search of more Good Stuff. Stay tuned.

15 Responses to Networking tips & life advice from the plastic bins
  1. Sheila Scarborough
    January 16, 2014 | 12:50 pm

    It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one with an impressive conference notebook collection. 🙂

  2. Lisa
    January 16, 2014 | 6:04 pm

    I love this. I have those bins.

  3. Michel
    January 16, 2014 | 6:18 pm

    Great tips! I have notes all over the place – not even nicely organized into bins. Definitely a great place to start an excavation this year. Thanks for the food for thought.

  4. pattid
    January 16, 2014 | 8:40 pm

    Thank you, Lisa and Michel. Having all those notebooks and bins is a plus! It means we are taking the time to learn. Wondering what you’ll find as you mine into yours. Share!

  5. Jeanne Guy
    January 16, 2014 | 8:51 pm

    I laughed reading this. My office is the perfect site for a “notebook/workshop guides” archeological dig. I was hoping your answer had something to do with lighting a match, but I guess instead I’ll have to follow in your footsteps and just dig in… Thanks, sort of.

    • pattid
      January 16, 2014 | 9:05 pm

      A match! No no no! There’s good stuff in there. Ideas for workshops, blogs, posts, embroidered pillows, t-shirts! No matches or lighters for you, Ms. Jeanne!

  6. Steve Harper
    January 17, 2014 | 7:31 am

    I am with Jeanne…I laughed too because I am guilty as charged. So many ideas, so many strategies, so much content that I swear I am going to use “some day.”

    I’m fearful a television crew is going to show up from that realty show Hoarders.

    So it’s funny you post this…as I declared a similar action for myself this year. Slowly but surely I’m cleaning up my office, “my file pile” and idea drawer. I’m reconnecting with new ideas and scratching my head on a few old ones. And burning stuff that falls somewhere in between.

    I don’t think the next knock on the door will be from any reality show producers from Hoarders but it might just be the fire chief seeing what I’m up to.

    Ripple On!!!

    • pattid
      January 17, 2014 | 8:01 am

      Found three more rogue notebooks last night – and one I’d been searching for for weeks! When will it stop???

  7. Carla Smith
    January 19, 2014 | 9:35 am

    Love this one Patti. Finally got your book too and love it! Was at Book People for Gretchen Rubin signing and saw your book…it was a staff selection. Congrats!

    • pattid
      January 19, 2014 | 6:06 pm

      Thank you, Carla! How fun that you got to see Gretchen Rubin. Her books are incredible.

  8. Leslie Roan
    January 25, 2014 | 5:05 pm

    Just love this!! What a great way to start off a new year. I was at this same event and I never came up with my 5 things. NOW, I definitely will!

    • pattid
      January 25, 2014 | 9:14 pm

      Thanks, Leslie, for commenting. I’m finding that the 5 Things approach works for a lot of projects, dreams, and goals. And the process of narrowing it down to 5 is an interesting exercise. Good luck with yours!

  9. Janet Buller
    January 26, 2014 | 10:00 am

    Great post, Patti. I like to type up my notes and then choose the BEST idea to share. The process of typing them helps me revisit the ideas and get clarity on them. I might share with a colleague who was at the event or share an idea on social media, linking to the speaker. Then the notes are on my computer and filed in an easily searchable folder instead of on a piece of paper.

    • pattid
      January 26, 2014 | 11:19 am

      Hey Janet! Great to hear from you and what a great idea – to capture and share the best ideas from your notes. Love that.

  10. […] Make a list of the Five Things you need to do each day to achieve the goal. (A nod to John C. Maxwell here; this has become one of my favorite new tactics.) […]

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