Monday, January 21, 2008

Say "Yes" When Asked

Photo uploaded by johnny z.

I urge you all to say "Yes" when someone asks if you can help them with a volunteer opportunity. You will find it does wonders for your networking and for your career, even the smallest and most ordinary of connections can start a chain of events that opens up a whole world of possibilities.

Here is an example of a small "yes" that led to an entirely new business.

First, a small chain of events to set up the story: A few months ago, I overheard Rhonda Serkes of Help Me Rhonda talking about a Mid-Atlantic Consultants (MAC) Network meeting. The group sounded perfect for what I needed, so I asked her how I could connect with it. Rhonda pointed me to James Chan of Asia Marketing and Management. I laughed, as I had just finished reading James' book, Spare Room Tycoon.

So, I contacted James, who immediately invited me to the next MAC Network meeting.

Fast-forward to the meeting, and I happen to sit next to Steve Smolinsky. Here is where I get to the "yes" in the story.

Those of you who have seen Steve do one of his tremendously popular Conversation on Networking seminars with Kay Keenan probably have heard the story about how Steve and Kay fell into the seminar business. Kay had volunteered to do a panel on "Networking 101" and someone had enlisted Steve as one of the panelists. When all the other panelists backed out at the last minute, Kay and Steve decided to do a rather free-form presentation on networking. It was wildly successful and ended up being the crystallization point for a whole new business for them. Kay and Steve are now published authors, and they even have a new book coming out that was written to support the program needs of Big Brothers Big Sisters, where Kay works.

Steve gets up to say a few words, and it turns out that Kay and Steve first did their spur-of-the-moment-because-all-the-other-panelists-quit seminar at a MAC Network meeting. The "yes" heard round the world.

James Chan, by the way, loves my calendar and my directory and says I should be paid for this. I feel that what I have now in the calendar should be available freely, so, while I might consider taking advertising, I don't want to charge for access to the calendar. I have been thinking, though, that there are some value-added capabilities that somebody might be willing to pay for. Hence, my interest in connecting with a good web developer.

Is James' encouragement an opportunity I should say "yes" to? I try to be open enough to say "yes," but it's not always easy to recognize opportunity when it knocks.

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