Today’s post is directly inspired by a fantastic post on the Brass Tack blog, run by Tamsen McMahon (@tamadear – and do you not LOVE her name?) and Amber Naslund (@ambercadabra, one of the best handles on Twitter, and one of the smartest people I’ve ever read). The post is here, and you may not continue reading the below until you have read Tamsen’s post there.
I lived for twelve years in one town down the road. Met a few people. Caused some trouble. Ended up not wanting to stay because of the reaction some had to that trouble. I had a few friends, knew a couple of people, but on the whole, I was nobody.
Then I moved up the road. The first week I was here, I went to the Chamber of Commerce meeting. And instead of sitting at the back, getting my bearings, I sat up front and introduced myself to the Chairman before the meeting. I was invited to stay after. Then to sit on the Board. Then I was the Chairman myself after a couple years. The same thing happened in Rotary, and over and over in other organizations. Shockingly, in just a couple of years I knew everyone in town, where in the other town I knew only a handful of people. The difference was exactly what Tamsen brilliantly outlined in her post.
People drop out of those organizations all the time, and the main reason they give is “it just doesn’t work for me”, which, being that I was in a position to observe, meant “I don’t do anything, so nobody can tell how awesome I am. Guess I’ll quit.” Those of us that have been there, and worked, some of us for years, know that these organizations can be fantastic networking tools, but they respond with a multiple of the force we put into them, after we demonstrate that we’re in it for the long haul. Put in zero, and no multiple will help. Put it huge effort for one project, then disappear, and a similar thing happens. But stick around and push, and pretty soon the other workers want to know who you are, and what you can do to make their lives better. That’s business.
Tamsen put this all so well. And do we ever need the reminder.