Monday, March 14, 2011

A New Gig for a Relative Stranger

One of my clients, a cultural arts institution out in Vegas, has been looking to fill a Director-level sponsorship position for awhile. They are without a doubt an unbelievable opportunity. State of the art, brand new facility, entire staff of the best and the brightest in the world (literally – they’ve recruited worldwide) and they are paying their staff with the same prestige. That is to say, they are paying their people handsomely.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say they’ve hinted at wanting me in the position. I’d also be lying if I didn’t say there have been moments an opportunity like this have been tempting. But let’s get serious, I’d self-destruct in Vegas. I can see it now… six months in to this gig I’d wind up a low-rent cocktail waitress at Bill’s Gambling Hall cleaning up beer pong tables in some get-up that looked like it was out of Fredericks of Hollywood. Anyway, that’s not to say the opportunity doesn’t kick ass, it’s just not what I need to be doing.  

However, it might be just the right thing for a new acquaintance I made at the opening cocktail party of my company’s annual conference last night. Enter Sam. Sam sat in on my presentation Sunday and intro’d himself that night by saying if my presentation set the tone for the rest of the conference, that this week was going to be hugely beneficial. I immediately thought he was a cool dude. Flattery won’t get you everywhere, but it will at least hold someone’s attention through their first drink at a networking event. He went on to tell me about his current position and how he was interested in pursuing some new career challenges. He told me about his family and I saw a picture of his kids. Again, just a good, solid guy.

Somehow we got around to my client and their search for the perfect candidate. I had literally just spoken with them prior to talking to Sam. My good deed meter started buzzing – could I play matchmaker between Sam and my client and make some sponsorship magic happen? I immediately made it my quest. I searched that cocktail party high and low for my client hoping to do an on-the-spot intro. No luck. They’d already retired for the night.

I found Sam and promised him I wouldn’t forget to make the introduction and that I was excited at the possibilities. Now, I don’t know how many conferences, networking events or cocktail parties you’ve attended, but people say stuff like this ALL THE TIME. 99.9% of the time they do not follow through. I made it a priority not to fall flat on my promise and be the cliché cocktail party attendee. It had been a long day, and I didn’t get back to my hotel room until fairly late, could I have waited till today to send the email and get Sam introduced to my client so they could meet up at some point during the conference this week? Sure. Would I have dawdled away a little time, lost some of my energy and possibly forgotten if I had waited? Quite possibly. So, I dug out Sam’s card and fired off an email to my client introducing the two and saying I thought it was imperative they meet at my round table event the next morning and talk about the possibility of working together. Sam immediately emailed me back “I owe you a huge one! Just for making the introduction, I owe you big time!” It felt great. I literally felt like I could put my head on the pillow with a smile on my face and know I earned that smile.

Know what I usually do at a “networking event?” Stand in the corner with my colleagues acting antisocial and drink a glass (okay, maybe 2… alright, honesty is a virtue I’m working on, maybe it’s truly 3) of red wine and head back to my room when I feel I’ve “paid my dues.” Not this year. I resolved to be as open to meeting as many new people as possible. And I wouldn’t interrupt. I’d listen to what they were curious about, I wouldn’t try and solve all their problems off the bat, but if I could help, I’d do that too. More importantly, I’d genuinely be interested. Not just “it’s my job so I’m ‘interested,’ interested,” but truly invested interested. At this stage I don’t know if Sam got the job, but the two of them met at my session this morning and looked to have a great conversation. One simple change in my attitude may mean someone else’s life changes and one of my clients solves a challenge they’ve been grappling with for months. My cup runneth over at the thought of how positively powerful we can be when we set our mind and our attitude to the right frequency. Here’s to hoping Sam lands the gig!

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