If the Timing’s Right…

Being effective is something that we all strive towards – but sometimes it’s the little things that can separate the good from the great.

One such small thing is deciding when to send an email. In a very interesting tip in the article, Timing is Everything: Five Tips to Better Networking in 2012, tip one is “send an email during working hours. You may think your email will get noticed if it’s sent off hours, but it will probably just get put aside. If someone is checking their business emails off-hours, they are checking on business-related items. Emails asking for help are often put aside and forgotten about.”

I tried getting a couple different opinions based on job functions. My friend, Andrew Bavelock who works as an Administrative Aide at New York University believes that “the afternoon is usually the time when I’m most responsive to emails, since that’s when I’ve finished most of my other time-sensitive work for the day.”

From our sales team at myGreenlight, Business Development Executive, Brian Frankel says “I check my emails first thing in the morning. I avoid checking emails in the middle of tasks as it is a time waster. I learned from Jason Womack to turn off the outlook notification message for incoming emails and that helped a lot.

However, not all people are of that opinion, some people think it is easier to focus on emails during our free time. When I asked our Community Manager, Kibibi Springs, she said,” I would say that getting someone’s attention at the start of their day is probably the best overall way to ensure that it’s recognized and replied to in a timely manner. So I would send an email in the evening so it’s on their radar when they check email in the morning.  I also have found that the end of the work day and the hours after a typical work day ends is great to catch people live.  I think a lot of people use the end of the day to catch up on emails and if you send something between 4-7pm you might get a direct response because that part of the day meetings are typically over, the phone has stopped ringing and they are more likely to be able to focus.”

As you may have noticed- there doesn’t seem to be a perfect time of the day to send an email. In my opinion, if it’s something that is very important to you- you should try to research “a day in the life” of the person you are emailing and go from there. It seems to be different depending on the industry and job function, so take all of that into account and see what works.

When are you most responsive to emails? Share your experiences!

Ritu Walia is myGreenlight’s Member Coordinator.

Five Tips to Break Through Your Filter(s)

Authors John Hagel and John Seely Brown, who recently sat down to record a Social Capitalist Masterclass with Tahl Raz, provide this month’s Master’s Mission, designed to help you diversify your network to expose you to the broadest range of ideas and opportunities. These simple tips will strengthen your safety net – try it!

It is no surprise that we instinctively seek out those who share our interests. This is especially true in times of increasing pressure and uncertainty. We have an understandable tendency in such times to seek out the familiar and comfortable as a buffer against the unforeseen changes around us. In so doing we can inadvertently put ourselves in a cage of similarity that narrows our peripheral vision of the world and our options. The result? We may be even more vulnerable to being blindsided by events and trends coming at us from new and unusual directions.

The Internet compounds this narrowing by invisibly removing subjects and people from our online searches and even our casual exploration of websites, explains Eli Pariser in his new book, The Filter Bubble. Worse yet, we tend to become more extreme and entrenched in our beliefs when we become involved in a tight-knit group that shares them.

The bottom line: the choices we make and the technology we use can progressively narrow the range of experiences we have. To counteract the potential stultifying effects of the filter bubble we will have to overcome our natural instinct to seek out the comfort of those who are most like us. Here are some suggestions: Continue reading

Relationship Roundup

Collaborate and innovate with greater aptitude using this week’s five finds in the Roundup.

From Improv to Innovation — Maintaining the sparks of creativity in an organization takes work. Here the author shares how his company uses improv sessions to spark brainstorms that benefit the businesses’ evolution and its employee morale. Read the Inc. article here http://bit.ly/AvLKOT.

Upgrading the long slow coffee — This Chicago based café operated by State Farm insurance is using the social advantages of the coffee house vibe to get closer to existing and potential consumers. Read more about this great idea here http://bit.ly/ybFqYU.

The Perks of Paying it Forward – This is a generous idea we can get behind. One woman’s generous act of leaving behind $100 to pay for the coffee and snacks of those that came after her has sparked collective generosity in a South Carolina coffee shop. Now the shop owner receives funds from patrons and those just passing by in the neighborhood to pay for the next person’s coffee or food. Read about it in the GOOD magazine community here http://bit.ly/zBMBDC.

Collaborative Environments – Learn how environmental cues trigger behavioral outcomes and how to design more collaborative team environments in this blog post from I2I. Read the blog here http://bit.ly/yz5r7q.

Inspired Collaboration – This Inc. story is not only inspiring, but also illustrates how connecting with others can lead to inspired ideas and collaborations with those that can help make your goals a reality. Read the article here http://bit.ly/wqe1RY.

Kibibi Springs is myGreenlight’s Community Director.

Networking for Introverts

Check out an excerpt from the transcript for The Social Capitalist interview featuring Nancy Ancowitz. Access the audio recording here. Here’s the full transcript: Social Capitalist Transcript – Nancy Ancowitz. Enjoy!

TAHL RAZ:     Now are you mostly working with body language?  You say it’s a quick, easy way.  What else is specific to introverts that you’ll work with?


NANCY ANCOWITZ:    Well, the way we use our voices.  And so really important in introvert, if you’re an introvert, you need to think before you speak.  And that may sound “oh obvious, don’t we all –aren’t we all supposed to think before we speak.”  But no, we’re wired differently.  If you’re an extrovert, you like to think out loud.  You love to brainstorm.  That comes naturally to you.  If you’re an introvert, ooh, that’s a tough one.  You really need to think about things ahead of time.  So being put on the spot at the meeting is terrifying for you.  So by practicing that kind of thing, it really helps.  In fact, for years, I’ve studied improvisation for that reason to get myself more comfortable thinking on the spot.  It’s still not my natural strength.  It’s still something I prefer to be able to think in advance, but it helps.

TAHL RAZ:     So and I just heard you say that in essence, you’re also suggesting that people actually before the meeting, pre-package, pre-script, things that they’re going to say, points that they’re going to make and have that in front of them.  Is that something you’re suggesting?

NANCY ANCOWITZ:    Absolutely.  Because again, if you’re an introvert, you think before you speak.  So if you go into a meeting blank, without preparing, you’re in tough shape.  If an extrovert goes into a meeting without preparing, hah, she can wing it.  An introvert doesn’t wing it as easily.  It’s just not the way we’re wired.  It doesn’t work as well for us.  It’s a lot more – takes a lot more out of us.  So if you want to be your most articulate and you’re an introvert, you really need to prepare.  Come up with those key points.  The other thing you could do is you talk to people.  You take people aside before the meeting if you have important points to make and if you need to lobby for something.  You do that one-on-one with individuals before the meeting.  And it was overwhelming and you’ll be more – you’re more effective one-on-one than you’re in a group, in general.  So that’s another technique to use.

Take Control of Your Inbox – What Deserves your Attention?

This morning I woke up and checked my email, as I generally do. And in my personal email inbox I found exactly 4 new notes. And they were all from actual people.

Sounds like science fiction, doesn’t it? Like going to the mail box at the curb and finding only handwritten letters. The stuff of fairy tales.

But this was real. The side effect of a New Year-inspired effort to rid my inbox of all of the various unread subscriptions that have been cluttering the scenery for far too long. Fifteen (15!) versions of Living Social, daily sale flyers from every store I have ever visited, LinkedIn updates from groups I visited once – all gone.

It was cleansing, to say the least.

It was hard to cut the cord on some of them. Several of the newsletters contained some excellent content. Some of the reminders are truly valid and useful. I do enjoy a good sale, or half-price rock climbing expedition (not that I’ve ever been on one – but the idea is attractive.)

The problem is that in the midst of the cluttered heap of spam and bacn (better than spam, not as good as personal email), it was impossible to focus on anything at all.

Things feel strangely empty in my mailbox – like the living room now that the holiday decorations are put away. But the space makes it so much easier to focus on actually reading the things that made the cut.

I am vowing to be more judicious about what I sign up for going forward, although it is challenging to control my desire to know everything all the time. But as with most things, it’s better to focus on a few things that matter instead of being distracted by endless options clouding the scene.

How do you manage information overload and decide what gets your attention?

Stress-Free Networking Apps

Sometimes the idea of meeting new people can seem daunting, and it’s hard to figure out where to start. To help jumpstart this process, here are four apps that solve some common network/networking problems:

“I can’t find the resources/help I need to grow my business.”

Entrepreneur Finder helps businesses develop by building bridges between business and people’s interests. “After creating a profile, users will have free access to contact other members and to take advantage of the user search and matching features. Members also gain free access to the site’s public groups, private business and university groups, a Q&A section, current news, and other helpful resources.”

“Networking events are great but not targeted enough.”

Through Tapped In, the database matches attendees with other attendees who have similar interests before the event. That way, “you will never have to rely on serendipity to make that one solid connection. You will never have to walk up to a stranger and have a cold conversation. They already know you!”

“I need to expand my network but don’t like formal group events.”

Grub With Us has a more casual way of going about networking. As they put it, “you already paid, so just show up, eat and socialize!”

Lastly, we have a site inspired by Keith, LunchMeet- an app to Never Eat Alone. It works through your LinkedIn account so all you have to do is “let the app know when you will be available to meet and where, search for other professionals in your area who are also available within the same timeslot, and invite them to a lunchmeet!”

These four apps allow for stress-free networking. Have you ever used any of them? What have your experiences been like? Yay or Nay?

Ritu Walia is myGreenlight’s Member Coordinator.

Mini Mission Monday

First things first.  Happy 2012!

In honor of the introduction of our 3rd Core Course – The Learning Action Plan – today’s mission is all about planning your personal development for this year.

Your Mission:

Identify one thing you want to learn this year.  It might already be a resolution, or just a thought in the back of your mind.  Write it down and spend 30 minutes researching ways to move the needle on that learning objective.

Possible options:

  • Identify an on-line course
  • Sign up for a live course – continuing education, a seminar, a workshop
  • Find a book – buy it or go get it at the library
  • Ask around in your network for ideas
  • Find a mentor/accountability buddy to keep you moving

Relationship Roundup

Happy New Year and welcome back to work! In the roundup this week, five ideas for using relationship capital to survive and thrive in 2012.

Strategic Relationship Building – Linda Hill, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, shares how leaders must consider whether or not they have built up the right sort of relationships with people in their network. Watch the video spotlight on Smartblog on Leadership here http://bit.ly/uxUHbi.

Breaking the ice – This CBS MoneyWatch.com list of questions for breaking the ice will help you get closer to new prospects and building new business relationships. View them here http://bit.ly/ycn22C.

Where is your third place? – We couldn’t agree more with Fast Company writer Kevin Purdy’s recommendation and reminder that face time is valuable and beneficial to our personal and business lives in many ways. Read why here http://bit.ly/tihBi7.

Networking=Survival – While it may sound extreme, Deborah Mills-Scofield’s story of how connections literally allowed her family to survive will leave you thinking differently about the network you create. Read the HBR Blog here http://bit.ly/shGihl.

Need a new job? Try Massive Networking – Use some of these tips from HBR Blogger and former McKinsey Strategist Bill Barnett to develop a massive structured networking strategy for a job search. Use it to help shape your myGreenlight Relationship Action Plan for a job search. Read the blog here http://bit.ly/sFQp9u.

Kibibi Springs is myGreenlight’s Community Manager.

How to Become the Big-Idea Creative

For much of the last 150 years of economic history, the smartest people gravitated to where the money was. The money, today, is looking for where the smartest people are. To stay relevant, every venture of any size is looking for creativity. Because wherever you find creativity – and, by extension, wherever you find talent — innovation and profits soon follow.

Dan Pink, in his book, A Whole New Mind, put it this way: “The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind — computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBAs who could crunch numbers. But the keys to the kingdom are changing hands. The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind — creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers. These people – artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers – will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys.”

So how is one exactly supposed to respond to all that? I think there are two areas where we can learn to become more proficient: one can loosely be labeled “high concept,” referring to the personal aptitudes we can develop that foster creative thought and action in ourselves, and the other is “high touch,” referring to many of the skills and practices myGreenlight teaches that enables people to expand their networks and thus their access to other creative people.

Management guru Bill Taylor, a recent guest on the Social Capitalist, was particularly astute when it came to ideas for improving our high concept aptitude. Specifically, he introduced a profound idea that suggests all kinds of exciting ways to improve creativity: Continue reading

Reclaiming “Resolutions” for Truly Transformative Progress

On the first day of the new year, I had a small group over to my 4th floor walk-up in downtown New York to eat black-eyed peas and collard greens – more than 5 pounds of collard greens, in fact. Apparently, we are hungry for the good fortune they are supposed to bring. As E. B. White famously wrote, “No one should come to New York to live unless he is willing to be lucky.”

While we ate, we each wrote down an intention for the New Year to add to a communal pot. A friend asked, “What’s the difference between intentions and resolutions?

My take: “resolutions” have gotten a bad rap – they feel at best like a superficial social ritual

Resolutions, Intentions, or.... Rulin's? (a la Woody Guthrie)

used to sell gym memberships, and at worst like a burdensome “should” that kills the spirit of play in our creative, productive endeavors.

“Intentions” shakes off all that bad juju to suggest an active, voluntary commitment to a unique personal goal or ethos for the year.

But truthfully, I felt a little wishy-washy even as I defended the new term. Yes, intentions are more gentle on the soul. But sometimes, what’s needed is true resolve. Is real transformation ever truly gentle?

I thought about that again on January 2, when I set out for my first run of 2012. Two years ago I launched MyThousandMileYear.com, a year-long blogging project to document my attempt to run 1000 miles in 2010. (This past year my friend Amy took over the site to run her thousand miles so you’d have to go back in the archives to see any of my posts. I made it to 900-something miles before getting benched by tendon trouble.)

The Thousand Mile Year was a very concrete goal that I executed with a high level of accountability and personal investment, thanks to the blog. I was resolved, very resolved, and as a result, I changed my physical life and sense of identity indelibly. I became a runner that year, and it’s a gift that I continue to be grateful for.

One other revelation came out of my January gathering: Sharing goals with a group of friends – some of whom may be from your official professional network, but have become part of your intentional network – is an incredibly nurturing experience, as is hosting. It is your opportunity to feel the physical reality of your self-curated support network. When they’re dispersed, it can be harder to feel the safety net. But believe me, it’s there.

Here’s to building that support network even stronger in 2012 – by helping them to achieve their goals, as you humbly but purposefully work on your own.

On that, I’m resolved.

How about you? Are you in the intentions or resolutions camp? Either way, what’s your first step?

Sara Grace is myGreenlight’s Program Director.