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Posts tagged ‘David Burkus’

5 career and business-boosting New Year’s resolutions

This review first ran in the Dec. 21 edition of The Hamilton Spectator.

Here are five New Year’s resolutions courtesy of the best business books I reviewed this year for the Hamilton Spectator.

trigger1. Give us something to talk about. 

Word of mouth is the least expensive and most effective way to grow your business, say Talk Triggers authors Jay Baer and Daniel Lemin.

Do something different, unique and unexpected and we’ll rave about you online and in person. Check in anytime and every time at a Doubletree Hotel and you get a fresh-baked cookie. That warm cookie reinforces the hotel chain’s promise of a warm welcome

“A unique selling proposition is a feature, articulated with a bullet point, that is discussed in a conference room. A talk trigger is a benefit, articulated with a story, that is discussed at a cocktail party. Done well, talk triggers clone your customers.”

2. Start answering the questions we’re asking.

Every business and organization is a media company, according to Marcus Sheridan.

they ask“As consumers, we expect to be fed great information,” says the author of They Ask, You Answer. “Are you willing to meet their expectations? Or would you prefer that the competition be the one who answers the question for them? Remember, they’re going to get their answers from someone, so wouldn’t you prefer they get their answers from you?”

Sheridan saved his pool company by doing exactly that. He told prospective customers what it would cost to put a pool in their backyard, why his pools weren’t for everyone and made referrals to his competitors. So quit talking about yourself in 2019. Stop cranking out content that we didn’t ask for or care about. Instead, be the best teacher within your industry. Earn our trust and our business by answering our questions with fierce honesty.

3. Skip the wine and cheese mix and mingle and instead put us to work.

“Research suggests we are better off engaging in activities that draw a cross-section of people and letting those connections form naturally as we engage with the task at hand,” says Friend of a Friend author David Burkus

friend of a friend“You may not be focused on networking while you participate in such activities, but after you finish, you’ll find that you have gathered a host of new and interesting people that now call you friend.”

If you score an invite to a Jon Levy dinner party in New York City, you make the meal together. You can only talk about what you do for a living once you’ve sat down at the dinner table.

Pixar Animation Studios runs an in-house university with courses that bring together senior executives, front-line staff, veterans and new hires. Everyone is treated the same, can take up to four hours of paid time each week and can skip meetings if they’re supposed to be in class.

4. Instead of the golden rule, follow the mom rule.

Treat us the way you’d want us to treat your mom.

momJeanne Bliss, the godmother of customer service and the author Would You Do That To Your Mother? The “Make Mom Proud” Standard For How To Treat Your Customers says you need to respect our time, take the monkey off our back, stop asking us to repeat ourselves and don’t leave us in the dark.

“To put this in the simplest terms, do you deliver pain or pleasure? Do you make it easy and a joy for your customers to do business with you?” Your mom would want you to the do the right thing. So make her proud by taking customer service seriously and making it personal.

5. Prepare ahead for a viral video starring an employee doing something truly dumb or way worse. 

“We got blindsided by two idiots with a video camera and an awful idea,” said a Domino’s spokesperson after employees violated every imaginable health code in a kitchen.

“Even people who’ve been with us as loyal customers for 10, 15, 20 years, people are second-guessing their relationship with Domino’s, and that’s not fair.”

crisis readyMelissa Agnes, author of Crisis Ready, lists eight expectations you must immediately meet if you have any hope of recovering when your reputation takes a mortal hit. Make building a culture of crisis readiness a priority in 2019.

“You want to get your team to a level of preparedness that is instinctive, rather than solely being dependent on a linear plan that cannot possibly account for all the variations, bumps and turns that may present themselves.”

Jay Robb serves as communications manager for McMaster University’s Faculty of Science, lives in Hamilton and has reviewed business books for the Hamilton Spectator since 1999.

 

Want to bring people together? Skip the usual networking event and instead work & learn together (REVIEW)

friend of a friendThis review first ran in the July 7th edition of The Hamilton Spectator.

Friend of a Friend: Understanding the Hidden Networks That Can Transform Your Life and Your Career

By David Burkus

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

$38

Wash dishes or mix and mingle?

This is one introvert who’d happily roll up his sleeves, fill the sink and start scrubbing.

At Jon Levy’s parties, you get to do both.

You don’t just get invited to an Influencer Dinner at Levy’s home in New York City. You help cook the meal, set the table and clear the dishes.

Levy has one rule while everyone’s in his kitchen. You ditch the script that’s followed at every networking event. You can’t tell anyone who you are or talk about what you do for a living. You’re on a first-name basis until everyone sits down for dinner. You then break bread by trying to guess each other’s identity and profession.

Instead of making meals together, Pixar Animation Studios runs an in-house university for employees. Yes, you can take courses on how to draw. But you can also sign up for  everything from improv comedy and painting to acting and belly dancing.

Everyone can take up to four hours of paid work time every week to take courses. And you can excuse yourself from meetings that are booked when you’re supposed to be in class.

The value of the university is in the internal networks that get built, with frontline staff and new hires learning alongside senior executives and veterans from across the company.

Working together brings people together. Levy’s dinners and Pixar’s university also get around a common pitfall with traditional networking events. Along with being a painful exercise for introverts, we tend to go to events and strike up conversations with people we already know, who are in the same line of work as us and share the same view of the world.

This approach pretty much negates the whole point of building a network. We’re not meeting new people, expanding our thinking, questioning our reasoning or getting the diversity of ideas, insights and feedback we need.

“Networking events don’t bring us truly new contacts,” says David Burkus, a business school professor with an expertise in network science and author of Friend of a Friend.

“Instead, research suggests we are better off engaging in activities that draw a cross-section of people and letting those connections form naturally as we engage with the task at hand. You may not be focused on networking while you participate in such activities, but after you finish, you’ll find that you have gathered a host of new and interesting people that now call you friend.”

Research also shows that you want to be the person who, like Jon Levy with his dinner parties, serves as the broker and bridge between networks of people who would otherwise never meet. “The most connected people inside a tight group within a single industry are less valuable than the people who span the gaps between groups and broker information back and forth,” says Burkus.

“Playing in between the clusters and connecting them to each other can provide huge advantages not just for brokers but also for the organizations they work with.”

Burkus shows how to make and strengthen the connections that will have an outsized impact on your work and career.  “Your network is influencing you, and so you better begin influencing your network. Navigating your network deliberately – making choices about who your friends are and being aware of who is a friend of a friend – can directly influence the person you become, for better or worse. Your friend of a friend is your future.”

And if you’ve got a friend in me if you need someone to wash and rinse the dishes at your next networking event.

@jayrobb serves as director of communications for Mohawk College, lives in Hamilton and has reviewed business books for the Hamilton Spectator since 1999.