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Networks, Networking & Interesting Stuff

Thoughts on the stuff that makes the world go round

Presentation skills in a nutshell

A gem I picked up recently – almost short enough to be a tweet!When making a presentation, bear three things in mind:1.    Simplify complicated ideas2.    Emphasize the benefits3.    Try to influence your audience to take action
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The power of gestures

Attitude is all-important. If you approach things with a positive frame of mind, there’s nearly always a useful ‘takeaway’ to be found. An example: Yesterday I went to a ‘free’ seminar on presentation skills which was, as I suspected, mainly a selling exercise. Since I run workshops and masterclasses for a living, I’m always curious to see what others offer. And there was one gem – a short exercise to demonstrate the power of body language.Try it and see. First, find a partner. Stand facing each other, and clasp your hands behind your back. Now think of a subject that you...
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Randomised coffee trials (aka, "having a coffee and a chat with a relative stranger")

When it comes to innovation, most of us under-estimate the power of serendipity and the importance of meeting new people.In workshops, I always stress the many and varied benefits that building a network brings. So I often talk about the importance of serendipity, and of meeting new people – and it is heartening to find that the news is spreading. At a recent workshop which I ran for the Wellcome Trust, I mentioned the (strangely named, I think) Random Coffee Trials that are becoming increasingly popular in organisations as diverse as the Scottish government, the Red Cross - even the UK...
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Gathering: Lessons in professional networking from Finland

Just back from a stimulating weekend in Finland, presenting at the Hanken School of Economics Summer Summit (www.hanken.fi/en). I am always especially pleased to work in Finland. I have personal connections with the country (my mum was Finnish) and have been spending my summer holidays there since I was a small child. But it was more recently, when my ideas on approaches to professional networking were developing, that my Finnish connection came to the fore professionally. Much (most) of Finland is wild forest. Roaming in that forest is an enormously peaceful occupation…..and it was while gathering bilberries (or it may have...
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Musical Chairs

Another one of those chance conversations that lead somewhere unexpected... I've been a volunteer reader on our local Talking Newspaper for a couple of years. Never got involved in the committee, governance or management side of things, just did the read, put the USB sticks in envelopes and went home. A few weeks back, during our 'cake break' in recording, I happened to be chatting to our engineer and regaling him with the latest instalment about dealing with what are euphemistically called 'strong characters' in my role as Chair of another voluntary organisation. I didn't think any more about it until...
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You don't know what to backup until it's gone...

It may look like quite some time between this blog post and the last, but it's yet more evidence not only of the need to back stuff up, but also exactly what needs backing up. This site was working fine until a  few days ago when 'pow!', it suddenly couldn't find the SQL database that powers it. A lot of email to-ing and fro-ing with the web hosts told me that the database had disappeared from the server. Of course, files don't just disappear- someone or something has to delete them. But no log of any such activity and certainly nothing...
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The Network Effect reaches #7 in the Economists’ Bookshop weekly chart

I’m used to running workshops for relatively small groups, and I’ve also delivered masterclasses to all sorts of audiences, both large and small. But there’s something distinctive about a book event – and when that book is your own, the event becomes even more special. It may have something to do with having spent the early part of my career in the world of publishing, or the fact that I’ve taken part in the same literature class for more years that I care to admit… Whatever the reason, I was strangely moved when speaking to an audience at The Economists’ Bookshop...
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It Pays To Ask

One of the things we bang on about in both networking and negotiation workshops is the need to get real information to help avoid bad decision making based on faulty data.And I've just had a reminder of that lesson.I'm at St Pancras station, ticking off the last few destinations for the 'book on train' project. As I stop for a coffee at well known franchise, it occurs to me that leaving one or two books on tables there might encourage finders to whisk them off to exotic locations.I could easily just plonk a couple of books on tables and make my exit, but wanting to ensure that staff...
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Words of Wisdom

If you’ve read The Network Effect, or been to our workshops, you’ll know that we often send out our own postcards, printed with a thought-provoking proverb or quotation. We often see them on people’s noticeboards or desks – but imagine our delight when Sarah, who participated in a workshop we ran at Judge Business School in Cambridge back in 2008, sent us a photograph of a postcard she had received, framed and proudly displayed on top of the first desk she purchased after her return from postings in Iraq and Afghanistan.   As an aside, we would argue that the motto...
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Stand out from the crowd

Refreshingly, I’ve just got back from a meeting with someone who positively radiates energy. I’ve come away from too many ‘informal chats’ feeling drained, but this time I’m positive and hopeful that something will actually happen as a result of our conversation... but most interestingly, this guy’s business card includes his photograph. What people (and companies) choose to do (and not to do) with their business cards is a special interest of mine, and selecting examples from my ‘collection’ to use on page 141 of The Network Effect was a particular pleasure. Putting your photographs on your card is generally considered...
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Up Periscope!

Books have started surfacing. To recap, we've put specially labelled books on trains leaving London's King's Cross/St. Pancras stations and invited people to tell us where they found the book, and where they plan on leaving it (or did leave it) for the next person to find.You can see the detail of each book's movements by following the project on Twitter @network_effect, but to date we have nine reports from seven books. With about 60 books placed so far, that's something around a 10% response rate.So what's happened to the others? Worst case scenario is that train cleaners have trashed them,...
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Top of my list, but not top of yours

It’s a mistake that many, many people make. They assume that everyone sees the world from the same point of view, their point of view. For example, The Network Effect is clearly at the top of my list of priorities at the moment – I’m proud of what we’ve achieved, and want, quite naturally, to maximise its impact. I also genuinely believe that the book can help a lot of people. So I pick up the phone, late on a Friday afternoon, and call one of my contacts – a senior careers adviser at a top UK business school. “What did...
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Make That Call!

It's all very well putting books on trains and getting nice reviews from people we know, but if we want people in any numbers to read the book and take our messages on board, we need to get coverage in both conventional and 'new' media.The first few calls made on our behalf all sound very positive, but of course the 'proof of the pudding' is whether anything useful appears in the public domain. You won't be surprised to hear that Judith and I are making every effort to harness our own networks to encourage that coverage rather than relying on 'cold'...
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On the Train, Off the Train- Day Two

Today it's St. Pancras that has the pleasure of my company, but the ticket barriers, complex platform arrangements and presence of the Eurostar all make this a more difficult nut to crack.  So first stop is the Station Manager's office, where I come across my first hint of 'more than my job's worth' and 'need to talk to the PR people'. I'm invited to take a seat for a few minutes while the chap concerned disappears behind the scenes. I'm beginning to think that I might have run up against a brick wall when he reappears and OK's the issue of...
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On the Train, Off the Train

Today sees the 'book on train' project take off in earnest as I travel to King's Cross with a very heavy bag full of books. To avoid the risk of creating a security alert, I've spoken to the PR people at both Network Rail and one of the Train Operating Companies, but it's clear that the people I really need to get 'buy in' from are the crew leaders on each train. The plan is to put three copies on the book on trains travelling to each of the final destinations served by the King's Cross/St. Pancras hub. Why three? No...
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Strangers on a Train

When you first arrived at this website, you'll have seen a big button on the front page labelled 'I Found Your Book!' Up until today, no-one could find a book because there weren't any to find. But that's all changed. This morning, the East Coast mainline train I took to Newcastle had three extra passengers- specially labelled copies of 'The Network Effect' that invite finders to take the book with them and log on to this website to tell us where they'd found the book, and where they plan to leave it. Each of the books has a unique ID and...
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Amazin' Amazon

I'll be the first to admit that one has to take Amazon reviews (or those of any other un-moderated site) with a pinch of salt. How many book reviews are penned by the author's proud mother? How many restaurant, hotel or product reviews by their owners (or indeed jealous competitors, in the case of appalling ones)? But aside from one review that we asked our PR person to write, because that's her job, all the other 25 (at time of writing) come from people who have given what we have every reason to believe is an honest appraisal of what we've...
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So here it is, Merry Christmas

We've got a decision to make. Do we send out review copies of the book before Christmas, with the pitfalls of bad weather, Christmas mail volume and the book being dumped in a drawer as festivities get under way? Or do we wait until 2011 has well and truly got under way? We decide that as long as the books go out before the end of the second week in December, we'll be OK. Recipients of review copies include clients, academics and people whose opinions on networking we respect. In our covering letter, we ask them to put honest reviews up...
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The Frog and the Lily Pond

There's an old logic problem about a frog that's trying to get from his lily pad in the middle of the pond to the pond's edge.  Each jump he takes is exactly half the distance of the previous jump, so (at least in theory) he never quite gets to his destination. That's what the previous weeks have felt like: every time we thought we were there with the 'final' version of the book cover and text, some minor 'gotcha' would jump up and bite us.  Probably things that the reader wouldn't even notice- but we'd know they were there.We even discovered...
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'The Network Effect' takes shape

Writing a book isn't just about getting the words right: it's about making sure that the look and  feel of the book matches the words inside and conveys something of the author's personality.  With two co- authors, that's potentially a minefield, but what Guy Callaby, our designer, has created is a book where we're pretty sure that the collar and cuffs match.  Judith and I both love what he's done, and we hope you will too.It's been a long slog getting the text right, and an even longer slog getting all the permissions needed for quotes, case studies and graphics with which the book...
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