In person business event for networking

4 Truths About Virtual Networking

My favorite definition of an extrovert is “a person for whom heaven is a roomful of strangers.” For an extrovert, such a room is an opportunity to meet and engage with new people, learn interesting things, share observations or humor, and potentially make useful connections. We look forward to and draw energy from these occasions. For us extroverts, the pandemic has been a frustrating and lonely time.

Fortunately for us, the world is beginning to open up. I’m going out to meet today with a group of high-powered women. We’ll listen to an expert speaker, eat lunch together, and enjoy each other’s company. I will most likely sit at a table where I know no one. I can’t wait!

Of course, I’m well aware that not everyone shares my enthusiasm. I have plenty of friends, colleagues, and clients for whom networking is a nightmare. But love it or hate it, for the last two-plus years all of us have had to learn how to work virtually and how to network virtually. We’re still doing plenty of it. Here are some of the lessons I have gleaned from the wonderful world of virtual networking:

Slow productivity offers bosses happier people and better results

The reports are grim. On all sort of measures by all kinds of researchers, American workers are feeling more and more exhausted, burned out, and even depressed. Well, duh – there’s still a pandemic going on, our lives have been disrupted, climate change is scary, and now to top it all off, there’s the potential of nuclear annihilation. Have a nice day. 😊

We have little or no control over the big-picture challenges. But we do have some control over how we work — and how the people we lead are expected to work. One possible solution: “Slow Productivity.” 

children playing tug of war

To improve resilience at work, take a cue from children

One of the fun things about having a diverse career is being able to pull techniques from my work as a clinical psychologist into my current work as a performance coach and leadership advisor. 

“Resilience” is a great example. Today, everyone uses the word to describe how effective people cope with crisis and trauma — so much so it has become overused, as I wrote while discussing emotional endurance. Yet when I hear it, it brings to mind my clinical experience and the research that goes with it. 

Remote work culture won’t match the office experience, and that’s OK

For smaller tech companies, attracting and retaining top talent has always been a challenge. They can’t match the salaries the big tech firms offer, so the smart ones compete by offering a terrific employee experience.

Table XI, a fast-growth digital consulting firm, had a remarkable work culture — with the office at the very center. Their space was cool and inclusive. The atmosphere was both focused and fun. They had a terrific chef who made wonderful, family-style lunches every day. Everyone liked spending time there — employees, clients, and friends.

Well, in case you hadn’t noticed, people haven’t been going into the office much lately. In fact, many companies, including Table XI, no longer have permanent office space. While some tech companies are pushing for a return to the office, at Table XI, all employees now work from home or in coworking spaces. 

So, CEO Mark Rickmeier was faced with a challenge: how to recreate that special culture without an office? 

Bright orange car door with number twenty sticker on it

To love your work, aim for just 20%, says Marcus Buckingham

I spent my first career trying to help people who most certainly did not love their jobs. As a psychologist, there was only so much I could do. Sure, I could give people techniques to cope, but I couldn’t change the fundamentals of how they spent their workdays.

When I became a leadership consultant and performance coach in 2003, my vision was simple. I wanted to work on the root of so many problems, helping leaders and organization create environments that enabled people to bring their best to work. When I wrote my book, Curating Your Lifein 2019, my goal was to help leaders maximize productivity and joy, both for themselves and for their employees. Learning to love your work — that’s what my work has been about.

So I was fascinated to hear a recent talk by Marcus Buckingham, a giant in the field of leadership excellence. His latest project is Love + Work, a book about how people can thrive at work and find their excellence. Right up my alley!

Six coworkers gathered around talking wearing yellow and blue

The types of employees post-pandemic, and how to retain them

Maybe, just maybe, after two years of varying degrees of misery, this @#$! pandemic is drawing to a close. I know I’m enjoying imagining what life will be like — full restaurants, a lively arts scene, relaxed big family gatherings, opportunities for travel. I’m definitely looking forward to a big burning of the masks in my backyard firepit. 

There’s one thing I can’t picture quite as clearly though: The workplace, and people in it. 

How to retain top talent, beyond just offering a raise

Recent research from McKinsey gives us new insight into how to retain top talent. The article lays out two top reasons why people stay in their jobs. First, they feel valued by their organizations and their managers

Of course, one way to show that an employee is valuable is to give him/her a raise. But sometimes a raise just feels transactional, or worse, manipulative. Is my boss just trying to buy my loyalty? If I can get a raise now, why didn’t they give me one earlier?

skyscraper angled towards a blue sky with clouds

The path to becoming a CEO doesn’t always start with a “C”

How do you get to be a CEO? Recent research from the search firm Spencer Stuart identified the four most common “last-mile” experiences of first-time CEOs in S&P 500 companies: COO, divisional CEO, CFO, and “leapfrog” leaders promoted from lower in the organizations. 

Perhaps not so surprising, the path to CEO is littered with “C”s. 

The data gets more interesting, however, when you look at performance. Those unexpected “leapfrog” leaders, who enter the job from outside the C-Suite, were the most likely to outperform their peers.