7

Based on frustrating business networking practices at events, I wanted to share a few little secrets of more giving business networking:

1. When you re-meet someone, give them your full name again by saying it aloud.

This is an especially helpful little business networking secret when:

  • How you look has changed even slightly (heavier/thinner, more/less hair, different makeup or hair color, etc.) since you last met
  • They might struggle to recognize/place you because you’re meeting in a different setting than you usually meet
  • It’s been such a long time since your last meeting they may not remember your name right away
  • You interact via social media and your avatar might not translate to in-person recognition
  • There’s even a 10% change they’ve forgotten your name since you met initially (and BTW – Don’t bust them on not remembering you. Instead, react with a faux question, “I think we may have met before? Am I remembering that correctly?”)

2. Carry business cards.

I know business cards get dumped on by certain social media folks, but they ARE helpful for memorability – at least for some people. As a visual learner, I can look at a business card well after the fact and trigger a memory of meeting that specific person. I can’t imagine I’m alone in that. Create business cards, have them with you, and use them, i.e., give them to other people.

3. When you meet someone, attempt to carry on a simple, brief conversation.

It doesn’t have to be overly complicated (“What do you think about the opportunities to leverage social media for customer acquisition in a B2B market?”), and it’s wonderful if it’s not inane (“Hey, what about that weather?”). Have a few targeted, relevant QUESTIONS ready to go, and ask them! Doing this will give the person you’re meeting an opportunity to share what THEY think.

4. Don’t look around the room as you’re trying to carry on a simple, brief conversation.

Give someone your full attention – really. Don’t just try to make it seem like they’re getting your full attention. I’m not sure there’s anything more off-putting than when someone you’re meeting is constantly scanning the room to see if there’s someone better than you at the event they could be hunting down.

5. Smile!

Smiling really helps to compensate if you can’t remember to do numbers 1 through 4.

By now, you must have realized this post title is a lie. These aren’t really little SECRETS about more giving business networking. But they might as well be little secrets based on how few times people genuinely seem to follow them when networking. Get started putting these “secrets” into practice and you’ll definitely stand out from almost all the rest of the crowd.Mike Brown

If you’d like to add an interactive, educationally-stimulating presentation on strategy, innovation, branding, social media or a variety of other topics to your event, Mike Brown is the answer. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how Mike can get your audience members Brainzooming!

 

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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2

Everybody wants economies of scale. They signal you’ve achieved a sufficient size so you can do things, deliver benefits, reach markets – all sorts of good things – with a disproportional level of operational and financial efficiency smaller competitors can’t match. That’s what economies of scale are all about. That’s why they’re really great.

But economies of scale can also be really detrimental and lead to bad strategy when your strategic view is flipped around. They become problematic when you start thinking about how they allow small cost reductions to be multiplied into large absolute cost savings.

When you start your analysis this way, you wind up with:

  • Orange juice which shaves several ounces off of how big a half gallon is.
  • Quick service restaurants which stop providing napkins in to-go orders.
  • A hotel with only 1 wastebasket in a very large room.

All these changes seem subtle. But they’re really annoying when you run out of orange juice, don’t have a napkin to wipe your hands, or spend 5 minutes trying to find where to throw something away.

In all those cases, scale-oriented savings make brands seem really cheap . . . and not cheap in a good way.

Coupling economies of scale with a “They’ll Never Notice” attitude leads to bad strategy.

Why?

Because when your grocery store turns out half its lights, you notice. – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to see how we can help you devise a successful innovation strategy for your organization.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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2

Some guest posts are months, if not years, in the making and only come about after extensive interaction with the guest author. A very few others feel almost spontaneous. This guest post is one of those! A week ago Sunday, John Caswell of Group Partners retweeted several of my creativity posts. That led to some direct messages back and forth and learning a little about John’s approach in using Structured Visual Thinking to help enterprises change the way they think and work. Given my personal interest in drawing and the desire to incorporate it more directly into the Brainzooming process, it was a natural to ask John to share an article on his thinking about innovation and change. Within the day, John polished off this guest post, and I’m excited to introduce it here!

After my third or fourth interjection I had clearly upset the guy that had called the meeting. “What could you possibly know about innovation?”

OK – yes I did take it personally. No one had actually answered what I thought were simple questions. People talked over me. Tables were thumped. Flip-charts were rattled. The air was thick with passion. I was shocked and battered and bemused. I just couldn’t make any sense of it. I guessed it was me. I was young – this was 30 years ago.

Nothing has changed. I still take it personally, but I fight now.

Today, like then, it is still very possible (likely) to enter a workshop – or indeed any gathering – to discuss innovation or strategy, and hear the same unstructured, self-serving drivel. It worries and frustrates me that we end up solving the wrong problems really well so I chose to study the field.

I thought I would share my story and see how many sympathisers I can find here!

We see it all over don’t we. Layer upon layer of ‘solution’ that fixes an effect rather than a cause. Another sticking plaster on a service or system that has lost its original intention. Been through an airport recently?

We all know this is a well-trodden field. Everyone has a theory, millions of single-idea self-help books on leadership, behavioural change, this and that tool, lists and templates that guarantee success. Mostly unread and gathering dust. Well from where I stand, the world isn’t taking any notice or applying this knowledge in order to innovate or build better strategy.

What I noticed was that many sessions on innovation or strategy were the same. People with big decks, loud voices; seniors with dull titles getting to make grandstanding performances to people who weren’t really listening. No one shared the same meaning of any term or idea. Some poor sausage consigned to taking notes that no one would ever read again and someone writing in a forgotten Mandarin font on a white board with a faded tangerine marker pen. Everyone careful to toe an unspoken party line or be quietly correct when the big moment to be a positive terrorist came.

I noticed little or no wider context (or even vaguely factual evidence) within which to open/force bigger debate. People seemed to lack any coherent or shared idea of what the actual outcome of all this endeavour was supposed to produce.

After a while I saw that what was missing was creativity within a logical and agreeable structure. There appeared to be little or no governance within which to level set everyone without limiting the  freedom to think. There was no intelligent record (of the little thinking there was) upon which to spring better thinking. We seemed to be in a ‘Groundhog Day’ of meetings. I was in an innovation madhouse and all the windows were boarded.

At its simplest level it was unclear to me what problem we were solving. And so how could we decide what innovation we were seeking? How would we know if it was a success? How would we all collaborate to get there with so much difference of opinion and so much biased judgement/protection of territory and ego.

Organisations are deliberately ‘organised’ in divisions. So without a shared answering machine there will be many (divisional) right answers. Right? How can we ask the right question about innovation or strategy without collaborating on a common framework to firstly  debate and then conclude the ‘exam question’?

Anyway. 30 years later – I still see the exact same situation as I go crusading around our planet. My weapons are visual and structured. I force discernment and calculation through the boiling oil of stimulation. I aim to harvest all the available creativity by asking Columbo questions – all of it aimed at pushing the boundaries. My army is made up of everyone because I don’t compete with what anyone else does – I add to whatever is already in place.

My Trojan Horse is impartiality. This approach takes no prisoners because I have no dog in the fight. I have nothing to sell other than a correct conclusion. I draw these conclusions with them – literally. – John Caswell

Guest Author

The Brainzooming blog has a wonderful group of guest authors who regularly contribute their perspectives on strategy, creativity, and innovation. You can view guest author posts by clicking on the link below.

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7

Several recent events prompt this post, a post I’ve never really felt compelled to write.

After the Intrepid podcast discussion with Todd Schnick about the distinction between creativity and innovation, a follow-up email from Chuck Dymer quoting  John Adair’s categorization of creation and innovation, and Saturday’s #Ideachat about what constitutes creativity, I guess it’s time to just come out and say it:

I don’t spend time seeking out, reading, or thinking about “creativity” and “innovation” definitions.

Creativity and Innovation – Do they define you? Do you define them?

Don’t take my comment to mean I haven’t spent any time defining these words for innovation and creativity presentations I do.

But in a world where so many forces seem hell bent on stifling creativity and innovation, complex and rigid definitions of these terms seem more likely to contribute to stifling than instigating them.

Creativity Seems to Be Lots of Things

For example, it was fascinating during #Ideachat when the various “creativity” definitions ranged from portraying creativity as an act, a result, an inherited talent, a learned ability, to a place (i.e., side or location) in the brain. And there were probably other variations I didn’t even catch.

Several of these creativity definitions make it pretty easy for people who are so inclined to say, “Heck, I’ll never be creative.”

And that, my friends, sucks.

It sucks for the people who give up on creativity and innovation because it robs them of a lot of the excitement of life.

It also sucks when your career is focused on trying to get all kinds of people excited and open to using their knowledge and talents to come up with new ideas.

When Creativity Is a Perspective, It’s Attainable by Everyone

That’s why the creativity definition Jan and I used considers creativity as a “perspective.” It’s damn near impossible for anyone to say they can’t embrace and exhibit a perspective. And in those very precious situations working with clients on how to make their organizations (and their team members) better, you can’t afford for someone to let themselves off the hook when it comes to being creative and innovative!

What do you think? What do creativity and innovation mean for you? – Mike Brown

 

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to see how we can help you devise a successful innovation strategy for your organization.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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4

This 2009 video shows what was happening in our suburban Kansas City neighborhood last night as people scoured the streets for creative treasures amid what Prairie Village residents consider trash. Our annual “Big Item Pickup” event is both a great way to get rid of large things people no longer need and an opportunity to redistribute those items to people who do see creative possibilities in them.

Having been one of the scavengers in the past (I actually found matching dining room chairs at two different houses and walked them home), my wife put a stop to my active participation in the creative possibilities-identifying side of Big Item Pickup many years ago. Now, I’m left to live vicariously through the creative scavenging successes of those with the biggest trailers and the most spacious pickup trucks!

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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19

There were so many great reactions to a previous post on 10 ways to be creative like a kid. I’ve had emails, tweets, in-person conversations, and even a business newspaper interview about the ideas for adults to be more creative by doing what kids do. When you get that kind of response, what else do you do, but come up with 10 more ways to be creative like a kid!

  • Don’t do things in the suggested order. Do them in whatever order you want to do them.
  • Don’t eat your food; play with your food! Sculpt your food into a monster.
  • Run down the hall to a meeting when you’re late.
  • Talk to the person next to you throughout a meeting. Or pass notes. Or both.
  • Put some oversized paper on the floor and sketch your BIG dreams and ideas.
  • Go outside for recess twice a day to get some fresh air.
  • Have a whole meal of triangle-shaped food – pizza, Doritos, cheese, pie, you name it. If it has 3 sides, eat it!
  • Demand a really outrageous dessert – a skyscraper ice cream soda, a hot fudge brownie delight, or a chocolate chip cookie with ice cream on top. Clap when you first see it and laugh when you eat it!
  • Create some funny alternative words to “Jingle Bells” or another well-known song.
  • Stay up WAY past your bed time playing, reading, or telling scary stories!
The Breakfast Monster by @PhilMcCreight

The Breakfast Monster by @PhilMcCreight

What other ideas or stories do you have to add to the list of fun ways be creative like a kid?Mike Brown

To tap into your own extreme creativity, download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to enhance your creative perspective! For an organizational creativity boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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10

Creativity has been the theme here the past week, and it carried over to an appearance on Intrepid Radio hosted by my good friend, Todd Schnick. During the show (dubbed “The Brainzooming Episode” by Todd), we talked about a variety of creativity-related topics, including:

  • Why certain people are unwilling to share creative ideas as they’re being formed
  • Differences in triggering organizational vs. personal creative awakenings in business
  • How “Sgt. Pepper’s” by The Beatles was innovative while The Who’s “Lifehouse” was creative

This last discussion about the difference between “creativity” and “innovation” that Todd raised prompted the chart at the right.

In our discussion, Todd shared his view that something is innovative only when it’s successfully implemented. While I’ve certainly considered “deviation from the status quo” as a common characteristic of “creativity” and “innovation,” I’ve not considered successful execution as a dimension to separate the two. It’s an intriguing idea though, and one, as I told Todd, I’ll be thinking about for a while. Visit Todd’s website to download the “The Brainzooming Episode,” or you can also find Intrepid Radio on iTunes. – Mike Brown

To tap into your own extreme creativity, download the free Brainzooming ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to enhance your creative perspective! For an organizational creativity boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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