Curtains, Cookies and Cards ~ Networking with new neighbors, at home and at work.
On July 1st, Fireball Network moved into an elegant new office center.
We are thrilled for the chance to meet our fellow tenants and neighbors. They include entrepreneurs, traveling executives, satellite office workers, and many bright and talented professionals in all industries. This move has made me think about how we react and relate to new people and new environments. Most importantly, it has made me think about how to be welcoming, and how to feel welcomed.
My network knows that I am energized and inspired by meeting new people. I crave a large room, conference center or entire building filled with strangers. So I see our new office as a chance to create new relationships – and be surrounded by potential new clients, strategic alliances, resources and friends.
In my personal life, I have lived in three apartments in three boroughs within a twelve-month period. In each home, my relationships with my neighbors quickly progressed from hello in the hallway, to long chats in the lobby, to deep conversations over dinner about life, love, family, careers and business. We have exchanged baby-sitting for cat sitting, play dates for home cooked meals, and have become cherished friends.
Thinking about how to achieve comparable relationship success in a business context, I invented a new system: The Three C’s: Curtains, Cookies and Cards. Like the Three C’s of diamonds, our tools sparkle too. Use them to spark your network and ignite your business. They won’t cost you a fortune, and they can help you earn your fortune.
When you put up your curtains in a new home, it shows your neighbors that you are ready for visitors. Put up the symbolic curtains in your office space to show that you are ready to network, open for business and open for opportunities. Be receptive to new neighbors and contacts, and let them in when they approach you. Don’t shut yourself off. Instead, keep an open mind and an open door. Smile at people when they walk by, and stand in the hallway and say, “drop in for a visit”. Some people may simply want to say hello, and welcome you to the neighborhood. Some may tell you about the best little bistro in the area. Others may want to pitch their services. Be gracious and receptive, as you would want the same consideration when approaching others. When opportunity knocks, you need to open the door.
Traditionally, neighbors bring housewarming gifts to the newest resident. In the business world of 2013, it is equally thoughtful, and a smart move, for the newcomer to bring a gift to the town. Fresh home-made cookies (or gourmet store-bought cookies from this New Yorker) are always in good taste. The point is that you can’t just wait around for someone else to make the first move. You also need to proactively reach out to others, whether you’re the new kid on the block, or the mayor of the floor, building or city. In the workplace, you can extend your hospitality in many ways beyond cookies. Treat your new neighbor to lunch to learn about her business. Offer a sample of your expertise as a gift. Use your Photoshop skills to improve his headshot. Help your neighbors hang a painting – or curtains – on their wall. The reaction, and the results, will be warm and rewarding.
My friends send me warm and funny greeting cards for each new move, for holidays and sometimes just to say, “Hi, I’m grateful for your friendship”. (Usually with a clever cartoon and a twisted caption). It helps tremendously when they have my new address. You need let people know where you are and what you’re doing, personally and professionally. Even when you’re not moving. On a practical level, update your contact information everywhere; and always have accurate business cards. On a greater level, you should regularly update your network about your services, clients, news, and accomplishments. Update your elevator pitch. Be sure that you know how to accurately describe your services and expertise to new neighbors and existing contacts. You always need to ensure that your potential clients and referral sources understand who you are, what you do, whom you work with and the value you provide.
With your Curtains, Cookies and Cards, you now have sparkling new tools to be a Mover and a Shaker all over town. Wherever you do business, and whatever you do, the most important thing is whom you do it with. Surround yourself with good people, and success will follow you, wherever you are.