Today was the fifth consecutive Monday morning I had met someone for coffee. Each meeting was a great conversation, has yielded new ideas and resources, and has started my week on a very positive note. These meetings have also caused me to take my own advice -- continuously learn from those around you. As a result, I have not had a case of the Monday's in over a month.
Below are brief snippets of each of these meetings. You may find them interesting or informative, but I hope you'll also find they are a good illustration of the impact social networking can have on learning and performance. By "social networking" I don't mean LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter (though these tools can help) but more personal, thoughtful exchanges between people. These conversations may even stimulate some additional discussions through your comments, your emails (firstname.lastname@example.org), or over coffee!
Lauren Tanny. Group Chair, Vistage.
We met at Earth Blend in Tierrasanta, a local shop that also offers lunch and catering. Lauren is the chair of my Vistage Trusted Advisors group, a sort of "personal board of advisors" for small business owners, CEOs of larger corporations, and key executives. Lauren's role is to facilitate our monthly group meetings and otherwise be our group leader. She and I shared feedback with each other on ways we could both get more out of the group. In particular, we explored the ways that conflict can be used constructively within a group of people to move everyone forward. The parallel to employee performance is that team harmony is good, but too much harmony can lead to complacency.
Jeff Freedman. President, ClearPath Alliance.
We met at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Mission Valley. Jeff is the President of ClearPath Alliance, a consulting firm that helps clients with strategic planning, organizational change, and talent management. He is a great resource and sounding board because our services are very complimentary (we actually share one client). Oddly enough, our discussion focused a lot on networking. One of the main themes is you have to be very deliberate with your time by thinking through the types of people you want to meet, where you expect to meet them, and what value you can provide to them before you actually start networking.
Caroline Carr. Customer Support Management Executive.
We also met at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Mission Valley -- it seems like this place is 20 minutes from everywhere in San Diego. Caroline is a customer service prowho has managed global customer support operations. She and I connected through two mutual colleagues, but we were surprised to learn that we knew many of the same people. We talked about many things customer-service related, but one of the points that stuck with me was the connection between employee engagement and customer satisfaction. The basic premise here is if you hire the right employees, give them the right training, and treat them well you are much more likely to deliver outstanding customer service. It's a no-brainer concept, but many organizations don't carry it out.
Rama Beerfas. Chief Solutions Specialist, Lev Promotions.
Our meeting was at the Living Room near SDSU, a very comfortable and cozy place for a casual meeting. Rama runs a promotional marketing company and I've previously discussed her outstanding customer service in my blog. We met to discuss some preliminary marketing ideas for a leadership development workshop I want to offer to the public later this year. One of the challenges with solving any business problem is you can become too entrenched in the issue to see the forest from the trees. Rama helped me identify some very simple ways to leverage my contacts and build an effective target list to pitch my workshop to. As always, Rama followed-up with a handwritten note and some additional suggestions.
Karen Boyle. President, learning gurus.
We met at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Mission Valley. Karen plays a few roles in my professional life. She's a "techie", so I always pepper her with questions about technology. She's a trainer, so we always talk a little about adult learning. She's also a business owner, so we invariably talk about the challenges of running a small business. Her company, learning gurus, is the place to go to find workplace learning professionals such as trainers and instructional designers for contract, contract to hire, and direct hire. Today, we talked about ways to leverage web-based technology to serve our customers more efficiently while increasing their satisfaction with our services at the same time.