Five Steps to a Better Off-Site

April 3rd, 2014 Jennifer Selby Long Posted in Communication, Professional Development | No Comments »

0347Getting your leadership team out of the office for focused discussion, debate, and planning is one of the best tools to build your organization’s competency and improve performance.

But far too often, inexperienced leaders try to copy what someone else did in a different organization, and when they return to the office – if they are honest – they have to admit that they didn’t get much of an outcome at all.

There’s a lot involved in getting an off-site right. Here are five steps that are often overlooked, and that can make the difference between success and failure.

  1. Define the exact outcome that you want. Note that I didn’t say “outcomes.” This is intentionally singular, because one outcome must dominate over all others.Think about the one thing you must achieve at this off-site, above all else. That determines what you have to do at the off-site, and everything else must be categorized as nice to do.This lack of willingness to put a stake in the ground and hold firm leads to more mediocre off-sites than all other issues combined. That’s how you wind up with an off-site that crams in too much, with no depth to any of it, and delivers no value to the organization. At that point, the value actually turns negative, since the organization has just invested money in the off-site along with the very high value of a management team’s time. We’ve all attended off-sites like this. Don’t be the guy or gal who leads off-sites like this.
  2. Require non-negotiable pre-work for everyone. If your outcome is a cross-functional plan to execute your roadmaps, it is a massive, wasteful time suck to ask each business owner to present a short deck of his or her roadmap, followed by Q&A. Yet, time and again, leaders tee this up as their off-site design.If they’ve all created roadmaps, they’re all perfectly capable of reading and critiquing one another’s roadmaps on their own. Require everyone to share in advance what they most want help with on their roadmaps and who their key stakeholders are. Then require them to read all of the roadmaps and prepare their questions, criticisms, and any gaps, overlaps, or misalignments they see between the roadmaps.This way, everyone comes prepared to get to work, which leads me to the next step…
  3. Get to work fast, and don’t let up. I’m not saying to skip icebreakers or warm-up activities. In fact, you should start with one. However, continuing with our example, if your off-site outcome is going to be a cross-functional execution plan, you need to split quickly into interdependent work groups and dive into each plan, using the pre-work as the jumping off point.
  4. From time to time, remind everyone of the outcome. Everything else is gravy, but many people like gravy more than potatoes, so expect them to veer in the direction of spending too much time on secondary outcomes. It’s probably the first time they’ve all been together in six months, so it’s easy to start discussing things that have little to do with the outcome you want to achieve.If you’ve set your scope properly, though, you will need most or all of the off-site time to achieve your outcome. Until you feel very confident that you’ll hit that target, you need to keep them focused on it. After that, sure, give them space to tackle secondary outcomes.
  5. I admit this is a little soft, but do not let the off-site end without doing something blatantly celebratory. I bring little statues that look like Oscars, and my clients decide what to award them for. We make a big deal out of it, with a ceremony and pictures. Unless your business is circling the drain, I’d also strongly advise you to take everyone out for dinner on the company’s dime, and make that event celebratory, too.

And because I can’t resist0393 adding a bonus tip, here it is: Use the 30-second check-in technique at the end of each day. Sounds corny, but it’s actually very serious. Stand in a circle. Tell everyone they have 30 seconds to share anything at all with the whole group.

Your facilitator should keep track of the time and interrupt with a polite, “thank you!” if anyone is still talking at his or her 30-second mark. This activity must stay on time.

Use what people say to help make any adjustments or even substantial changes to your Day 2 agenda and your post-off-site follow-up plan.

What are your thoughts about improving off-sites? Let me know at www.jenniferselbylong.com.

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Extraverts and Introverts: You CAN Work Together Without Going Nuts

March 24th, 2014 Jennifer Selby Long Posted in Building Relationships, Psychological Type | No Comments »

It’s an age-old annoyance – that co-worker whose style is irritating. You know it shouldn’t bug you, but it does.

welcomeThere are plenty of sources of irritation. This week, let’s look at one of the most frequent, a fundamental difference between people – where they get their energy.

We all essentially fall into one of two camps, and I bet you can identify which one you are in without the help of a therapist or a sophisticated assessment: extraverts get most of their energy from the outer world of people, while introverts get it from the inner world.

doorbellI once heard a fantastic analogy for this very fundamental difference. It’s so good, I’m passing it on to you. Imagine that you have 20 coins in your pocket at the beginning of the day. Each coin equals one unit of energy. For the extravert, every interaction with another person adds one more coin in the pocket. That’s great for me. I’m an extravert.

But for the introvert, well, he or she has to give up a coin for each interaction. An interaction between an introvert and an extravert is like an ATM machine of energy. It goes out of the introvert and in to the extravert, never to return.

How does this play out at work? This difference can lead to huge leaping conclusions about a co-worker’s intentions. I recently saw this dynamic with one of my client groups.

The extraverts called meetings, but rarely sent an objective or agenda or preparatory materials in advance. The introverts showed up (if they absolutely had to) already feeling shanghaied because they had no opportunity to think about the topic in private.

Repeated requests for materials in advance fell on deaf ears, because the extraverts rarely sat by themselves and read materials in advance of a meeting, so they saw no real value in it.

In the meetings, the extraverts wanted to make decisions and commitments, because they unconsciously trusted what was decided in a group environment more than a private one.

Now the introverts were really feeling fed up. From their perspective, the decision was rushed, and it would be unethical to make an important commitment without taking some private time to reflect on it and critique it. So the day after the meeting, they would start meeting one-on-one with key decision-makers to delay or change the decision that the extraverts had thought was final in the meeting.

End result: the extraverts thought the introverts were political slime and the introverts thought the extraverts were the same.

Here’s how to bridge the divide in meetings:

  1. Whether you’re an extravert or an introvert, send an agenda and materials for preparation in advance. Not an hour in advance – at least a day!
  2. All other things being equal, if you want a sounding board for your ideas before a meeting, ask an extravert, who’s more likely to accommodate your request.
  3. Allow for some interruptions rather than having a firm “no interruptions allowed” rule because extraverts tend to interrupt when they are interested in what someone is saying, and the more excited the extravert gets, the more likely he or she is to interrupt.
  4. Likewise, don’t hesitate to politely but firmly cut off someone who’s talking too long or combining too many points at once.
  5. Don’t go around the room trying to get everyone to participate equally. Introverts will speak up if they feel no one is saying what needs to be said.
  6. In the first meeting on a brand new topic, don’t push for a decision. Ask if people are ready to make a decision or prefer a little time to reflect. If they want the time, give them the time. If you try to deny this, your decision will be undone by introverts doing their ethical duty days after the meeting.
  7. Maintain a little flexibility around process. We think our trusted way of doing things is the best, but really it’s just one of several approaches that will get us to the destination on time.

Always remember this: Introverts think to talk. Extraverts talk to think. Plan accordingly and you may even find you like each other.

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2014 Relationship Building Challenge

March 20th, 2014 Jennifer Selby Long Posted in Relationship Challenge | No Comments »

coffeeoutsideOn January 3, I recommended making one small change per month this year (http://jenniferselbylong.com/?p=729) to dramatically improve your skill and confidence in building relationships. If you participated in January and February, pat yourself on the back. If not, it’s not too late catch up. Just jump in and join us!

The challenge for February was to “Set a simple goal and metric for each relationship, or to keep it super-simple, one over-arching goal and one metric for the whole process. What gets measured gets managed. How will you know you are strengthening each relationship? What signs will indicate this? Those signs can be your metrics. You’re not measuring product performance; this metric can be soft and still be useful to you!”

How did you do? Pop over to the 2014 Relationship Building Challenge blog post (http://jenniferselbylong.com/?p=729) and let me know how it went.

Here’s your challenge for March, if you are willing to accept it:

“Arrange to see each of your Treasured Ten in person, preferably over coffee or a meal. That’s right, I want you to kick it old school and see your Treasured Ten face-to-face. If you are not in the same geography and don’t expect to travel soon, set up a Skype call. Learn what challenges they’re facing, what they’re excited about, and what they need. Share your own challenges and what you’re excited about, too. Be sure to use open-ended questions, which are questions that can’t be answered in one word.”

Let me know how it’s going, share your thoughts, and ask your questions any time at http://jenniferselbylong.com/?p=729.

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Excuse Me, Are You Bleeding?

March 5th, 2014 Jennifer Selby Long Posted in Building Relationships, Management | No Comments »

keyboard“How can I get the cynics on my team to be more positive?”

“How can I find more time to manage my growing business?”

“How can I get my very junior staff to understand important developments on a project so they make the right choices going forward?”

What do these three questions have in common? The problem was unwittingly caused by the leader through an unconscious choice I’ve dubbed “style bleed.” Style bleed happens when you let a style that works well in one setting to bleed over into other settings, where it contributes to the very problems you want to solve. The challenge with style bleed is seeing when it’s happening.

In the case of the leader whose team was filled with cynics, the style came from years of working with regulatory agencies for pharmaceuticals. For two decades she had anticipated and responded to their demands as the drugs slogged along through the regulatory process.

With regulatory agencies – to say the least – there’s not a whole lot of dialogue, debate, or negotiation. It’s not as if she could say, “Well, if we provide this document in the exact style you want, we’ll expect you to give a little on this other document.” After two decades, she had become a master at anticipating, thoroughly preparing, and responding to non-negotiable demands.

Guess what happened when she interacted with her direct reports? Sure enough, the style that made her so successful with agencies flopped in a setting in which her job was to develop a team. Her interactions with them involved no dialogue, no debate, and no negotiation, though to her it felt like they did. Her team had checked out in terms of making their own decisions, and even in terms of checking their own work, because her instructions weren’t clear, but she would always fix whatever didn’t meet the expectation she hadn’t clearly articulated.

It took a lot of effort on her part, but as she began to consciously choose a different style for internal interactions than she used in external interactions, the team began to open up, and performance began to improve.

In the case of the manager seeking more time to grow his business, the style bleed came not from work, but from a longtime passion. A gifted pianist, he had practiced daily and performed often for the past eighteen years – which was twelve years longer than he had been in the workforce! Musicians practice untold hours before performing, and sometimes perform a piece only once, after hundreds of hours of working on it. The idea that you must practice, hone, and perfect your work before putting it out there greatly influenced his style at work.

Once we uncovered this style bleed, he began to assess each task, large or small, by whether or not it was truly similar to a high-stakes performance, and to target a more realistic personal standard for tasks that were less high-stakes and simply needed to be dispatched quickly and efficiently. This saved him hours in each week, which he could apply to the most important demands of his growing business.

In the case of the junior staff members who never seemed to understand important developments on a project, the projects were massive lawsuits and the leaders were two legendary trial attorneys who led the teams through complex, multi-year cases. The style bleed in this case was easy to spot – with great enthusiasm and remarkable intellectual power, they would quickly and unconsciously turn an announcement about a case development into a debate between them, each turning to the staff to make his point, as if they were the jury.

It was certainly exciting compared to a more typical staff meeting, but their very inexperienced staff members couldn’t follow it. They needed simple and straightforward explanations, not stunning displays of debate worthy of Perry Mason. However, in the presence of these two powerful and imposing men, nobody was going to speak up to say, “I don’t understand. Can you explain it in very simple terms?”

Once we discussed this style bleed, they were able to resist the temptation to turn meetings into trials when sharing basic and important information, and other attorneys and managers were able to jump in from time to time with explanations for the staff.

Do you see how easy it was for you to spot the style bleed in each of these leaders? Do you see how difficult it is to spot it in yourself?

Are you having trouble achieving a goal? Is style bleed one of the reasons? Here’s how to find out, and what to do about it:

Ask yourself where your standards and assumptions about your behavior came from. Go way back – these assumptions can be shaped in childhood, and it’s not always as deep as family trauma. In the case of the musician, his assumptions were shaped by the demands of the performing arts, which influenced him from the age of twelve, and which were a very positive aspect of his childhood.

Ask yourself if that’s really, truly the standard for the task at hand, or the best assumptions to make in this particular context. A different context often calls for a different style.

Ask your coach, boss or colleagues (or all of them) for perspectives on the appropriateness and effectiveness of your style. Often we don’t see style bleed ourselves because it’s hard to see unconscious assumptions and standards. It’s dark in the unconscious, and another person can often help out with a flashlight.

Try something different! Several years of a tight job market made a lot of people habitually gun-shy about personal risk at work. However, if style bleed is contributing to your frustrations or concerns, the only way to address it is to try a different style.

What are your thoughts about style bleed? Let me know in the comments!

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Jennifer Recommends The Phoenix Project

February 25th, 2014 Jennifer Selby Long Posted in Jennifer Recommends | No Comments »

phoenixprojectWritten from  the point of view of an IT operations leader who never aspired to the job in  the first place, this laugh-out-loud funny corporate novel provides a useful  and pragmatic perspective on how to leverage IT to gain competitive advantage.  I recommend it for any executive or manager who has a stake in IT  effectiveness, which today means very nearly everyone.

 

 

 

 

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2014 Relationship Building Challenge

February 20th, 2014 Jennifer Selby Long Posted in Relationship Challenge | No Comments »

coffeeoutsideOn January 3, I recommended making one small change per month this year to dramatically improve your skill and confidence in building relationships. If you participated in January, pat yourself on the back. If not, it’s quick to catch up, and you can easily complete both the January and February challenges in just one month.

The challenge for January was to “Focus, focus, focus. Since this is a developmental process, we’re going to target it. Make a list of no more than ten people with whom you want to build stronger relationships in 2014. This is important, because the list will be the basis for our work. Let’s call them your Treasured Ten.”

How did you do? Pop over to the 2014 Relationship Building Challenge blog post (http://jenniferselbylong.com/?p=729) and let me know how it went.

Here’s your challenge for February, if you are willing to accept it:

“Set a simple goal and metric for each relationship, or to keep it super-simple, one over-arching goal and one metric for the whole process. What gets measured gets managed. How will you know you are strengthening each relationship? What signs will indicate this? Those signs can be your metrics. You’re not measuring product performance; this metric can be soft and still be useful to you!”

Let me know how it’s going, share your thoughts, and ask your questions any time.

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Who’s Afraid of Power?

February 6th, 2014 Jennifer Selby Long Posted in Business, Change Leadership, Communication, Management | No Comments »

switchI bet if I asked, you could rattle off dozens of examples of people who caused great harm from being drunk on power. It makes for great movies and it arguably was responsible for triggering the Great Recession.

But I see a different and equally destructive pattern at least as often: fear of power and ambivalence about power. Though it seems counterintuitive, these relationships with power can create as many problems as being drunk on power.

You may be thinking, “I’m an enlightened leader. I don’t think about petty things like power.” That might be true. However, if you aren’t attuned to power, it’s also possible that you are unaware of your own reaction to power and your relationship to it. Even if you are attuned to your feelings about power, and are at ease with it, are the managers who report to you as comfortable with their power as you are with yours?

How do you know there’s a fearful or ambivalent relationship with power in yourself or others? Let’s look at the some of the most common symptoms. Do any of the following statements describe you or any of the managers who report to you?

  • Tossing it away like a hot potato – Do you seek someone else to make a decision or broker decisions similar to those that your peers make for themselves or negotiate without a broker?
  • Schizophrenic leadership style – Do you swing back and forth from empowering your people to bringing down the hammer on them when they screw up, because you are not at ease with empowering them and holding them accountable in a constructive manner?
  • Acting like a friend – Do you talk with your employees as if you are peers and pals instead of recognizing that as their boss, you are more powerful and need to be more thoughtful about what you do and don’t share?
  • Accountability dumping – Do you delegate to your employees both the decision and the full accountability for the decision? Bosses who are at ease with power share accountability and know that their employee’s failure is also their own failure.
  • Excessive collaboration — Do you frequently seek collaboration and consensus on decisions that are relatively simple, straightforward, and noncontroversial? Simple, straightforward, and noncontroversial decisions should simply be made and executed, not turned into collaborative discussions.
  • Passive/Angry style with peers and your own boss – Do you not reach out and put effort into being included in key decisions, yet get angry when these decisions are made without you?

Unlike power hunger or power drunkenness, power fear and ambivalence are not obvious to others, so their destruction is quiet, passive, insidious, and pervasive. If any of these statements apply to you or to someone who reports to you, you need to understand the situation better and take action to improve it. There’s no easy answer and no one-fits-all solution, but here’s where to start:

  • If you see these behaviors in a manager who reports to you, share with that manager the behaviors that concern you and how you see these behaviors negatively impacting the team or the business results. Since this manager may have an ambivalent relationship with power, it’s particularly important you enter into this conversation in the mode of helping him or her be more successful and be certain that you’re not in the enforcer mode for this first conversation. Be ready to offer support for improvement in the form of mentoring, coaching, and/or training.
  • If you see this in yourself, the most important first step is accountability. You are solely responsible for the way you react to power in the workplace and for developing comfort and ease with power. Own this accountability.
  • Own your discomfort. Pretending you feel differently about power than you currently feel isn’t going to get you anywhere.
  • Once you have accepted your ambivalence or fear (or both), reframe power as merely something that is there, and that you are responsible to use wisely and ethically. You can’t make it go away. Managers hold more organizational power than individual contributors. Directors hold more organizational power than managers, and so on, up the chain. Hierarchy is part of the human condition. No matter how you are organized or what you call the different roles, some people will be more powerful than others. If you’re one of them, that simply is the situation. To pretend it’s not there is to deny the fundamental humanity of yourself and your coworkers.
  • Track situations in which you find yourself tempted to let your fear or ambivalence drive your actions, and note what triggers that temptation. Choose to respond differently to the trigger. You can’t change the trigger, which comes from outside of yourself, but you can change your internal response. A different internal response can lead to a different choice.

It’s by no means the whole solution, but it should be enough to get you or your direct report started on this important shift.

What are your thoughts about fear and ambivalence around power? Let me know in the comments below.

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TL’s Greatest Hits

January 28th, 2014 Jennifer Selby Long Posted in Self Care | No Comments »

Body FatSince it’s a new year, and many of you are new readers, I’ve decided to share again how you can lose weight and lead large-scale change using the exact same principals, because they’re driven by the same five essential truths about change: http://jenniferselbylong.com/?p=250.

 

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Jennifer Recommends

January 24th, 2014 Jennifer Selby Long Posted in Jennifer Recommends | No Comments »

Are you a start-up founder looking for guidance, but you’re not in an accelerator? It can be difficult to find mentors and advisors when you are on your own.

Do you have start-up experience that could help others? There’s not always a ready outlet to help in small doses.

That’s why I’m so enthused about Pascal Finette’s blog and network: http://theheretic.me/. Pascal’s concise daily blog is on the short list of subscriptions I happily read every single time it enters my Inbox.

Subscribe for a few weeks to get a feel for the Heretic philosophy and values. If it’s aligned with your own values, and you have something to offer entrepreneurs, join those of us who’ve volunteered to be part of The Heretic Network.

Ninety of us are participating as mentors and advisors, and to quote Pascal:

“From PhDs with a big data background to UX experts who worked on some of the most defining products in the last couple of years to serial entrepreneurs who have raised hundreds of millions of dollars in their career – they are all part of our network.

In a bigger sense this confirms my belief that we are our network and that we usually have all the resources we need well within our reach if we just ask.

So: ASK!

Make use of this amazing network, don’t be shy to reach out to folks and ask for help. When you do so – treat these people like the messiah; they all lead busy lives and kindly offered their time, expertise and network to help. Pay it back by being nice and pay it forward when your time comes.”

Access the Heretic Network at http://theheretic.me/network/.

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The #1 Change to Make in 2014

January 3rd, 2014 Jennifer Selby Long Posted in Building Relationships, Communication | No Comments »

In 2013 I issued my first ever year-long challenge to readers: to dramatically and intentionally improve your listening skills, one month at a time. It was the #1 change to make in 2013. This year, we’re going to take the challenge up a level and focus on dramatically improving your skill and confidence in building relationships.

This competency gets an absurd amount of lip service in comparison to the actual degree to which it’s practiced. Yet without exception, the most successful and happy people with whom I’ve worked all focus ongoing attention on building relationships.

As with 2013, I’m breaking it down into 12 new habits, one for each month. We’ll take it in these bite-sized pieces so that you can get completely comfortable with each one before adding the next. Ready? Let’s go!

January: Focus, focus, focus. Since this is a developmental process, we’re going to target it. Make a list of no more than ten people with whom you want to build stronger relationships in 2014. This is important, because the list will be the basis for our work. Let’s call them your Treasured Ten.

Include at least one person who isn’t in a position to help you nearly as much as you can help him or her. This is good generosity karma. Also include people who are in a position to help you as much as you can help them, so you don’t get stretched too thin. This is good self-preservation karma!

Why no more than ten people in total? We want a number you can stick with for a whole year, applying each month’s challenge to each relationship, and more than ten can get mighty cumbersome when you’re working on new habits and skills. You may find that as the year goes on, you remove some names, and perhaps add others in their place. That’s o.k. Situations change, and sometimes you just have to go with the flow.

February:  Set a simple goal and metric for each relationship, or to keep it super-simple, one over-arching goal and one metric for the whole process. What gets measured gets managed. How will you know you are strengthening each relationship? What signs will indicate this? Those signs can be your metrics. You’re not measuring product performance; this metric can be soft and still be useful to you!

March: Arrange to see each of your Treasured Ten in person, preferably over coffee or a meal. That’s right, I want you to kick it old school and see your Treasured Ten face-to-face. If you are not in the same geography and don’t expect to travel soon, set up a Skype call. Learn what challenges they’re facing, what they’re excited about, and what they need. Share your own challenges and what you’re excited about, too. Be sure to use open-ended questions, which are questions that can’t be answered in one word.

April: Take at least one action to help out each person. If you’re unsure if something you have in mind would be welcome, ask. It can be an action that only takes 5 – 10 minutes, or maybe it’s something bigger. Great relationship-builders create a huge “bank balance” of goodwill long before they ask for anything in exchange. If you have issues with over-helping, this will be a tougher one to manage, but you must master this, because generosity and selflessness are hallmarks of successful people. They are not stingy with their help. They don’t hold it close to the vest. They worry very little about getting screwed, because they know that for every one person who will take advantage, there are 100 who won’t, and the 100 are well worth the rotten experience of the one jerk.

May: Introduce them to people who can help them, or have a mutual interest, or ideally, complementary needs. You’ll need to develop the habit of always asking yourself who might like to meet whom in order to catch the best opportunities for your Treasured Ten.

June: Keep every single commitment to them, even the teeny tiny ones. For example, when I get going in a creative meeting with a client, I sometimes lose track of some of the follow-ups that were discussed, but maybe not committed. I decided to stop being too embarrassed to ask and instead, starting sending a follow-up email asking for their recollection of how we left it.

By “teeny tiny” commitments, I mean things like following up even when you don’t absolutely have to, but you said you would, even if it was over your shoulder as you walked away. For example, I sometimes meet with near-strangers who want my advice, because a lovely client has requested it. Each time, I say to the near-stranger, “All I ask is that you follow up and let me know how it went. Will you do that?” One hundred percent of them commit to do this, emphatically. Approximately two percent of these people actually do it. The others disappear. The 98% go down in my esteem. The two percent rise.

July: Think of your Treasured Ten beyond the main environment in which you know them. For example, does one of them have a child who’s starting to look into colleges that provide the best education for a particular major? Ask friends in your network who hire in that profession which schools they would recommend and why. Share the information, but only share names and contact information with permission.

August: Donate your money to their causes, assuming it’s a cause you’re comfortable supporting. Anyone who’s ever volunteered for a charity walk-a-thon or community fundraiser knows how much effort goes into getting people to sponsor them and put money in their bucket. Start setting aside some money to support those who are willing to dedicate their limited free time to a good cause, even the people who aren’t your Treasured Ten. The timing of these requests can be hard to anticipate, so with money set aside, you’ll be ready from this month onward.

September: Repeat the month of March. Call each person or arrange to see him or her in person, preferably over coffee or a meal, or via Skype if you live far apart. While it may not be feasible to see every person you’d like to see twice a year, it’s certainly worth the investment to make sure you see your Treasured Ten this often. If you’ve seen all of them recently, congratulations! You can kick back this month and just continue your habits from the other previous months.

October: Write a recommendation on each person’s LinkedIn profile. Granted, you can’t do this if you haven’t worked together, but perhaps there’s something else you can do in fifteen minutes or less that’s a good deed for their business or career. Write a Yelp review for their local business. Buy their product and if you like it, share your enthusiasm on the appropriate social media. You get the idea.

November: Be there when it’s tough. Over the course of a career, everyone has ups and downs, and some of them are very dramatic. When one of your Treasured Ten suffers a big blow (professional or personal, or both), many, many people will scatter. Don’t be one of those people. In fact, come in a little closer. Do what you can to help, even if it’s as small as continuing to meet up for coffee. Granted, tough times can come any time, not just in the month of November, but I had to put this somewhere. In the season of Thanksgiving, be thankful you can be there to support them.

December: Think of something you appreciate about this relationship, and share it with the other person. For example, whenever a client is the inspiration for a Traveling Light column, I let him or her know. They often have a great time reading the article and seeing how I’ve disguised their identity. I’ve placed this habit in December because it is when we are most likely to reflect back on the year and think of these moments, but you can also do it as the situation arises.

Remember to take it in baby steps, adding one technique to your relationship-building toolkit every month. By 2014, you’ll be closer to ten wonderful people, and you’ll reap the rewards of personal and professional satisfaction.

Let me know how it goes in the comments below.

 

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