Netwalking Builds Healthy Relationships

Christine and Tammy…netwalking!

If you are looking for a creative way to build meaningful relationships through networking, consider netwalking. One of my colleagues, sales and marketing expert Tammy Wise, owner of WISECHAPTER3, has created an effective way to – as she states: “grow your business without growing your waistline.”

Traditional networking usually happens when you meet up with other professional colleagues at public events like a professional association’s monthly meeting, community event or major fundraising event for a worthwhile cause. Networking often happens during leisure time as well, like attending a wedding or a mutual friend’s party or even riding on an airplane. You usually exchange business cards to stay in touch or follow up at a later date to discuss business.

What is netwalking? Combine the basic principle of networking (learning about each other’s business) with walking (yes, the kind of walking you do in a beautiful setting like a park or beach) and you have netwalking.

Results of a 2014 study by Dr. Marily Oppezzo and Daniel Schwartz of Stanford University appeared in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition. Entitled “Give Your Ideas Some Legs: The Positive Effects of Walking on Creative Thinking,” the article revealed that walking – whether on a treadmill or outdoors – unleashes deeper creative thinking and the greater flow of ideas. I must admit, some of my best thinking happens when I take a walk in the park.

I have known Tammy for 30+ years (in fact, I first met her when she was a fresh college graduate). We have spoken at conferences together, served on panels together and belonged to professional organizations together throughout the years. Yet recently we did something together that we had never done before: We met for our first netwalking session. The topic? Our businesses…our dreams, goals and action steps. It was a refreshing – and healthy – way to share important information with each other and do a little brainstorming along the way. We met on a cool Spring day at the scenic Ohio Erie & Canal National Heritage Corridor.

Here in Cuyahoga County (Ohio), Tammy features Wednesday netwalking sessions, rotating east, west and south sides as well as downtown and urban neighborhoods. Want to learn more? Visit the WISECHAPTER3 website and sign up for a Wednesday netwalking time in Cuyahoga County. What could you tackle with a colleague when you are both in creative thinking mode? How could you potentially help each other? The possibilities are endless.

Lessons Learned From the Master, B.B. King


B.B. King Photo Gallery, Academy of Achievement

The thrill is gone. America lost one of its greatest musical icons, B.B. King, on May 14. The loss of a legend provides the opportunity to gain some valuable life lessons. Here are a few that I have learned from B.B. King:

Be self motivated. B.B. King first learned the basics of guitar playing from his church minister, then taught himself the rest, mostly through mail order books. How motivated are you?

Be kind to others. Kindness is a general theme gleaned from interviews with the people who knew B.B. King best. It is true…a little kindness goes a long way. He was kind to others as he made his journey to the top. When he reached the top, he was kind to those who were just beginning their journey in the music world. It resulted in solid relationships and others wanting to do good for him.

Put your heart and soul into it. B.B. King was born to sing the blues and he remained committed to his craft into his late 80s. He unleashed raw passion and deep emotion for the music and the lyrics. Are you putting your heart and soul into what you do?

Measure the advice of others. B.B. King often told the story of advice his cousin, Bukka White, gave him when he decided to pursue a career in music. He said, “If you’re going to be a blues singer, a blues musician, always dress like you’re going to the bank to try to borrow money.” Sound advice for everyone launching their careers and managing impressions.

Create a unique sound. Tim Weiner, music critic of The New York Times said of King’s music: “Mr. King married country blues to big-city rhythms and created a sound instantly recognizable to millions: a stinging guitar with a shimmering vibrato, notes that coiled and leapt like an animal, and a voice that groaned and bent with the weight of lust, longing and lost love.” All too often, we try so desperately to be like someone else and in the process we lose sight of reaching our own full potential. What do you have to offer that is unique only to you?

Give back and pay it forward. Coming from a small southern town, B.B. King decided early on in his career to support the people from his adopted home town of Indianola, Mississippi. Over the years, he has helped to support the town’s efforts through an annual summer music festival, community programs and economic development with the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center front and center. Thanks to B.B. King’s talent and generosity, Indianola is a thriving town today.

As we admire the life of this remarkable music legend, consider your own legacy. What work do you still want to do? What do you yet want to accomplish? Who can you inspire and motivate? Who can you extend a hand to and pull up along the way?  Rock on!


You Are What You Meet

Aurelien Rigart

Aurelien Rigart, Saint Flo

As a professional, you attend many public events, community functions and business trade shows. How do you show up to those events? Are you investing the time to make a favorable first impression with other professionals or are you there just for the freebies? Whatever you choose, it shows.

Last week I attended a popular annual business expo in my area. Being fully present in every encounter, I was more mindful of my actions. I enjoyed meeting  business owners and company representatives. I exchanged several business cards, registered for a few giveaways, received a few free items and enjoyed a few snacks along the way. The key word here is few. I also reconnected with some colleagues I hadn’t seen in a while. Throughout it all, I shared meaningful conversations. When I reflected on my time at the business expo, I realized that I had truly enjoyed myself because I brought purpose and mindfulness to each encounter. I wasn’t just exchanging small talk and business cards with vendors just to load my free bag with free stuff. I was selective about who I spent time with. As a result, I can remember every face, every name and every conversation.

If you attend public functions just to load up on free goodies, you’re missing one crucial point: People are observing your behavior and watching you as you approach them. They are examining your body language and listening to your words. They are gauging your level of interest in them, their product or service. They know that there are many prospects and new contacts that they can begin building relationships with in that first minute of the conversation. All they want is an opportunity to make a connection with you.

How do you “show up” at public events? Are you engaging, dignified and professional while talking with people or specific vendors who you want to meet? OR Do you walk around the event with a bulging bag of free stuff and spaghetti sauce on your chin? What first impression are you making? Choose wisely.

Empathy Provides a Deeper Connection

Victory Bell, Kent State University

Victory Bell, Kent State University

There are opportunities every day to practice empathy. Yet few people take on the challenge. They may think it’s too hard to become vulnerable and allow themselves to feel a deep emotional connection to someone else’s pain. What they would find, if they were willing, is that out of that empathy comes understanding.

Two days ago, my husband and I drove to our college alma mater, Kent State University, to attend the 45th commemoration of the May 4, 1970 shootings on that campus. I felt compelled to go, even though I was still in high school on that date 45 years ago. The University plays an important role in my life. Several family members received their undergraduate degrees there. It was also the place where I met my husband, Mark, in the late 1970s.

It was a postcard day, with clear blue skies, sunshine and a gentle breeze. The lilacs, viburnum and daffodils were in spectacular bloom. It was a stark antithesis of what happened on that hallowed ground of University Commons 45 years earlier.

IMG_2851The May 4 memorial sits atop a shady hillside next to Taylor Hall, where a small troop of National Guardsmen opened fire on students. At the entrance to the memorial sit three granite pavers demanding attention. Each is inscribed with one word. Inquire. Learn. Reflect. To me, they represent the essentials to practicing empathy. It reminds us that we didn’t need to be there 45 years ago to feel the impact of what happened that day.

Inquire. To practice empathy, an inquiring heart is required. It begins with a profound curiosity and a yearning to know about the world in which one lives. It starts with a series of open-ended questions that seek knowledge and the truth.

Learn. Response to inquiry provides the required foundation for learning and ultimately understanding. Continual learning leads to continual growth when the learning is applied and practiced. Learning can come from many sources ranging from books and scholarly journals to lived experiences.

Reflect. Reflection requires being fully present in the moment, when all distractions are averted. The mind is open to ponder information and facts and to gain perspective. Investing the time to reflect allows for a more personal understanding. Reflection can lead to more questions, deeper inquiry, learning, and so the cycle begins again. Inquire. Learn. Reflect.

As I listened to the family and friends of the four slain students, I felt profound empathy. The older sister of Bill Schroeder said “You showed up!” She said she would tell her 95-year old mother that we (the audience) showed up to remember her son and what happened that day. Our simple act of showing up had a much deeper meaning and value to one person and one family than we could imagine. You never know what your presence means.

People often confuse sympathy with empathy. The two are very different, as explained by Dr. Brene Brown in an excellent short video that’s less than three minutes. Watch it. It will change your perspective and help you understand when you’re being sympathetic when you should be empathetic.

The world needs greater empathy today. The workplace requires greater empathy today. Leaders must demonstrate greater empathy today. Before you enter the rabbit hole of name-calling and judgment of others, take time to practice empathy. Lay out the possibility in your heart and in your mind that you have the capacity to connect with someone else’s pain. Inquire. Learn. Reflect.

Photos: Christine Zust