Networking, Networking, Networking
When I was getting my journalism and public realtions degree in college, the one thing that was drilled into us was NETWORKING, NETWORKING, NETWORKING! One thing I learned was that it wasn't as easy for some as it was for others. Some people struggle with walking into a room full of people and knowing what to do. You can read lots of books and blogs for tips, but then you have to put them to use! We are big on teaching the folks in our office our secrets for netwroking, but we also recognize how important it is to teach the next generation these skills.
We like to give our interns opportunities to practice their networking skills - some interns were more polished than we ever will be and others needed their hands held a little bit. This summer our oldest daughter is our intern. She is pretty adept at attending functions with us and has been to all kinds of events -from formal to casual -in her short 18 years.
This week I was asked to speak to the Young Professionals Organization (YPO) and I took her with me. YPO is a group affiliated with the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce and while I am outside of their age range to be a member (21-40) I am old enough to impart some wisdom on juggling work, life and volunteering.
There was lots of eye rolling, huffing, and questions from my daughter on the ride over to the lunch. What do I say to people? How do I start up a conversation with someone? Can I sit with you? I was a little more nervous about her than I was my own speech. But within minutes she was talking to people, she sat right in the middle of the crowd for lunch and I didn't talk to her again until it was all over. We gave her some marching orders before whe got there. She had to get 3 business cards, and tell me about 3 people she met. She couldn't wait to flash the 4 business cards she collected and I learned that apparently, "I like your pants" and "I like your eyeliner" are great opening lines. Who knew?
That same day, Andy took our 15 year-old daughter to the Pittsburgh Venture Capital Association luncheon at the Fairmont Hotel in Pittsburgh. The topic was Intellectual Property Strategy. A little deep for a teenager, maybe, but great for a future engineer! She got great advice from the likes of Larry Miller from Innovation Works, and learned how emerging companies can exploit the tremendous value of patents without wasting resources and most importantly, how to sync her patent strategy with her business strategy. When she has one, she will be good to go!