Holiday Connections

November 19th, 2007

As the song says: “it’s the most wonderful time of the year….”

We all are inundated this time of year by solicitations, events, business acquaintances who want to have lunch/coffee/dinner/drinks, and those endless pre-holiday store ads.

The rush to catch up with professional friends and acquaintances as well as manage holiday commitments, parties, fund raisers, business pressures and the inclement weather is becoming overwhelming for many. To compound the rush, job seekers and those who anticipate a potential career change are aggressively out and about networking, often with people whom they haven’t spoken with in years.

Recipients of these overtures are getting flooded and sometimes even annoyed. In the holiday spirit, they want to be receptive, but are so busy that one more request weighs them down. And when asked to spend time with someone over coffee or lunch with whom there is a tenuous connection, many busy executives comply with hidden resentment. They would like to be helpful but become exasperated when the contact presents a problem expecting them to create a solution, magically know of a job, or to provide a referral to other overloaded business relationships for “information and advice”.

If you are one of those hapless networkers who think this is a good time to be in touch…to ask a business acquaintance out for a drink/tea/lunch/dinner to “catch up” or “pick their brain” consider this alternative: Give them a gift. Offer to give them advice or information, help them build connections, remind them of something they have done that has made a difference in your life….and don’t ask them for anything!

The other night I was inspired at a very lovely, warm and event hosted by Palms For Life.
Unlike many fund raisers that are held at beautiful locations, require formal attire and involve endless speeches for upwards of @1,000 a plate, this soiree featured discounted beautiful dresses and a fashion show of a very talented young designer, in the home of the organization’s founder, Hannah Laufer-Rottman.

Hannah, who started this global not-for-profit only 18 months ago, epitomizes the ideal relationship nurturer. She has built her organization by her personal ability to reach out, listen and consider the needs of others, create alliances and partnerships based on mutual benefit, and never to take no for an answer in a charming, loving way. By persistently creating solutions, thinking opportunistically about every possible connection, she engages people who can help her spread the word, build the fund or promote the cause in unique ways. She always comes prepared with ideas that she molds and adapts to the situation, always with an eye toward mutual benefit.

In my mind, giving without guile is the truest form of relationship development. Executives and professionals I know who are able to lead change, engage colleagues, create successful organizations and ride transitions smoothly are those who are open to and anticipate what others need. They make connections, remove barriers, have hope and inspire others.

Thank you to the Hannah’s of this world for reminding us about the true nature of Giving!

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