Ginny Wilson-Peters' Blog
Following is an email I received from a participant in a recent session on personal branding I facilitated for a company. Imagine a room of approximately 150 people. Each person has a paper plate and marker. I asked each person to first draw a circle on their plate and to include the numbers from 1 through 12 as you would see on the face of a clock.
The group was then told they had 3 minutes to “fill their plate” with 12 appointments for the day—with 12 different people.
Let the chaos began! As you might imagine, most of the people in the room ran around in order to do their very best to fill their plate. At the end of the 3 minutes I called time and asked people to pause for a minute and look at their plates. “Now,” I said, “How many of you remember the people that you put down on your plate?” There were more than a few groans in the room.I then instructed them to find their 11:00 appointment and have a discussion directed toward our topic at hand.
Here is the email I received (with the names changed to protect the “innocent”):
I particularly enjoyed what I called the ‘clock’ exercise where we ran around and networked for a few minutes to meet 12 people to fill our time on the clock. Believe me, I was feeling pretty smug when I finished ahead of schedule and had my clock all filled in with names (first names only) of people to meet with.
Imagine then, my horror, when you told us some time later that we were to find our 11:00 appointment and go meet with that person to follow up. Oh my gosh, I realized I had missed the whole point of the exercise. In being so results-oriented, I must admit to you that I basically flung myself at people, reading their badges (many of whom were acting just like me, I mention in self-defense!) and scribbling down their names. I never dreamed I ‘d have to follow up. Fortunately, I did happen to know my 11:00 appointment as I had worked with him years ago. So I had no trouble finding him and we had a great little discussion. Phew – I dodged a bullet there. But then you were clever and asked us to do the same thing with our 4:00 appointment !! Oh dear, I thought, I am in trouble now. My 4:00 appointment name was “John”. I turned to Sally (who came with me) and said (in my typical loud voice) “oh dear, I just wrote down ‘John’. I don’t even remember what he looked like! How will I ever find him again?” (by this time, I was starting to feel pretty ashamed of myself for focusing on the TASK, not the people)
The man in the row directly in front of us turned around and grinned at me and said “don’t worry, Lisa. It was me you met with at 4 pm.”
Oh lord, how embarrassing was THAT, Ginny! Fortunately, for me, he had a good sense of humor. To add to my chagrin, he told me that he had “met” me over the phone about a month ago when he called me with a question. (at that point, I was wondering if I was starting to experience memory loss…)
Well, we re-introduced ourselves and had an excellent discussion and it turned out he was in a position here at work where we really did need to connect and start working together. Trust me, Ginny – I have kept the paper plate clock with his name (last name now included!) and am going to set up a time to network with him soon.
But wait – - my story of embarrassment doesn’t end there. That night at home over dinner, my husband says to me “hey, one of my colleagues met you today over the noon hour, and he said he practically had to chase you down to get more than two words out of you because you were in such a hurry to get to the next person”. I cringed inside at the truth of those words.
Anyway, this True Confession may be more than you wanted to know, but I thought it was worth giving you the feedback that I learned probably more than you intended by that little exercise. I re-learned that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and it is more important to give people the full impact of your respectful attention – Be Here Now, as the buzzwords say.