There was a very famous footballer called Sir Stanley Matthews who was an English footballing legend. He played for Blackpool, scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup final of 1953 in the final that became known as ‘The Stanley Matthews Final’
Later in his formidable career he played for Stoke City and was a sporting super hero.
Another super hero, me, was travelling on the train from London Euston to Manchester many years ago when Sir Stanley sat opposite me on his way back to Stoke, where he lived and where the train stopped.
Being the shy young man that I was in those days I could not for the life of me think of how to start a conversation and so the journey passed, in typical English train travelling style, without me saying a word to my footballing hero.
Such a waste of an opportunity that would obviously never repeat. Sir Stanley, sensing my predicament was polite enough to say good bye when he was leaving the train at Stoke. Which I think on reflection made me feel worse.
You may have been to my networking workshop where we have played the ‘Lady Gaga’ game. The scene is that a shy young person who is a lady Gaga super fan gets to sit opposite her in a coffee shop and has to begin a conversation as this will be his one and only chance.
This is a demonstration of how to begin a networking chat and break the ice.
My friend, Edmund, with whom I enjoyed a coffee yesterday, was telling me proudly about his very successful businessman son who has been in Chicago on a whistle stop business trip.
Whilst on the way home, flying first class, who was he sat next to but non-other that our former British Prime Minister, David Cameron. I had to ask Edmund what did they discuss, was Cameron interested in your sons export sales, could he connect your son to some of his, well placed mates. What was Cameron doing in the US? Was he on a speaking tour, selling his book, seeing friends, maybe Barak Obama. So much to learn from a former PM and he is captive on a plane. Amazing opportunity to network and connect.
Guess what, the super successful son who, according to his father is very rich, did not have the confidence to start a conversation.
Now, the opportunity I missed was way back when I was about twenty years old. But not now.
Have you ever missed a golden opportunity to give your ‘elevator pitch’?? let me know in the comments section below.
Have you started the ‘Man in Red Glasses Course’? if not you need to, as after taking the course you will not let that kind of opportunity pass you bye.
It’s that time of the year again when we get invited to the Christmas events at our clients or supplier’s locations and we invite them to ours for a corporate get together.
Lots to eat, lots to drink and maybe some more, or new business or some job information to be gleaned. Super networking among our peers and great opportunities to mine out.
Those of you who have attended one of my workshops or seminars will have heard my views on drinking at networking or business social occasions.
My rule, which I urge you to follow is do not have a drop.
Trust me, I am no prude, I have a great collection of malt Whisky and really enjoy presenting at my local groups annual whisky tasting event.
A famous Rabbi once told me that one of the things that you should do after a fraught day at the office is to come home and sit down for a few minutes with a Scotch on the rocks and relax and reflect. Great advice.
A cardinal sin is to not remember what you have said or whom you have insulted at a Christmas event or did you say something or just think that you said something to insult someone.
Did you proposition the bosses PA or worse still Mrs Boss? OMG! You can’t remember.
Stick to my rule, let the others get in a state, you remain completely sober because, it maybe your companies or someone else’s party but if there is a work element you MUST stay fully sober and listen out for the loose tongues.
Let me have some examples of colleagues making a fool of themselves or juicier still, the boss.
Following a chance meeting at a networking event with members of the Manchester Chinese business community a couple of months ago the follow up meeting was about my day job of property, and especially social housing.
I was subsequently invited to work with the Alliance Manchester Business School, the largest business school in Europe, in arranging speakers and visits for these people.
The talk went very well, although not as I had planned, but they were a great
group who presented me with a ladies necklace.
You never know where networking is going to take you, maybe an invite to Hainan, China, which looks beautiful.
A couple of years ago, on behalf of the charity, Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, who do amazing work with sports people, I went to Wigan Athletic Football Club to speak to young footballers aged between sixteen and eighteen years old who were not getting their contracts renewed at the end of the season.
The Trust organised a great day where we were joined by other young footballers from Bolton Wanderers who were in the same situation.
It was a very structured event and there were a couple of actors who put in a running comedy routine.
I was speaking about ‘How to Whizz a Job Interview’ and went along early just to get the flavour of the event.
There were about sixty guys there and I really felt for them as they were young kids who had been kicking a ball since they could walk and their hopes of being the next Ronaldo or Messi were down the pan.
When I stood up to speak I told them that they were all my heroes because when I was a kid I too wanted to be a great footballer, who didn’t? However, at school I never got selected to play, I was always number twenty-three in the selection.
So I chose to play Rugby as mathematically I had more chance of selection and this worked to I played prop forward and had the crap kicked out of me every Wednesday afternoon when we had sports.
They were also my heroes because if I screwed up in my talk only I would know, if they make a mistake playing professional football 5000 or 10,000 or 15,000 people were there to see it and that was not easy to live with.
Last night I was reading a book by the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson, former manager of Manchester United and he told how he never put a player down.
He always encouraged the players and the famous and most meaningful two words that he used were ‘well done’
In management you sometimes want to scream at a colleague who has messed up but you have to find a way to turn the negative around and take a leaf out of Fergies book and say ‘well done’ but………’
The ability to cat nap, which I have, is great as most days at about 4.30pm I sleep for maybe ten minutes and wake up very refreshed, the former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher could survive on just four hours sleep a night but sadly I cannot.
We need our sleep to be able to function effectively and the amount that we need varies from person to person however, we have to stay alert in order to try to be at our best throughout the working cycle.
I always find it hard to sleep after attending a networking event as I am buzzing with what I should or could have said to the person or people that I met am evolving a strategy to meet up with them again and as to how I can help them (and me) progress our initial discussions.
So how do we cure the problem, well there are several ways but it’s not an easy fix as we are all very different and also we ourselves change.
As I have often said ‘Stuff’ happens, and the stuff gets worse at night, its slow paying or no paying clients, debt problems, sales figures, family, and many other issues.
I have ‘enjoyed’ them all and found that writing a list of issues helps me. After writing the list number the topics in worst order down and in the morning I start to attack them. Starting with the number one.
A word of warning here, night time induces temper and you can find yourself in a right old ‘paddy’ with someone, even formulating your thoughts into a hard hitting email.
Of course, you must draft that email but do not put the recipient’s name into the address box yet. Write down all your thoughts and save it as a draft. Then go back to bed, feeling better.
In the morning you must read it again, think how you would feel to receive this document, if you are happy, enter the email address and press the send button. At least you have given yourself the option of not sending it, as once you send it you cannot stop it from going and also you cannot prevent the recipient from forwarding it.
So be warned. Someone I know sent out some pretty vile and untruthful stuff in the night to a list of their mutual friends and associates, the next morning he realised that he had made a massive mistake and wrote a very sincere apology however, the damage was done and a libel case is now pending.
I will address what can we do to get more sleep without reverting to sleeping pills in another blog post.
Please write and tell me what sleep issues you have had and what steps you have taken to overcome the problem.