Anyone who has spent time networking will tell you...
Rose Marshall is a friend of Cinder, and a prolific networker. She and her husband, Jon Marshall, are passionate about helping businesses in Oregon grow. Together, they run Innovation Frameworks – a firm dedicated to helping companies “see what they can’t yet see” and innovate at the process, product, and business model levels.
Rose, Could you tell us a little about yourself?
My husband and I were both in high tech for years. During that time, he created a company, Innovation Frameworks, which built on both of our experiences doing what we call the “fuzzy front-end” of product development – the point at which thoughts are floating in the air and companies have a difficult time getting engineering and product marketing together to define what the goal for their next generation product is.
At Innovation Frameworks we provide the methodology, terminology and processes that make this early stage extremely powerful for the company. Through the knowledge we’ve learned first-hand we help teams create something no discipline could do alone.
We actually have two companies; the other is Oregon Innovators Alliance, a benefit company dedicated to the triple bottom line. Innovators Alliance supports our values of advocating for the longevity of the planet and economic growth for the Northwest.
Before you started Innovation Frameworks, were you doing similar work?
Yes, my undergraduate degree is in math and computer science, and I have a master’s in international business. Jon’s background is in hardware, audio, and optical software design with a degree in biology and physics. We are both steeped in “intrapreneurship” (being an entrepreneur inside a company), marketing, and the engineering/design side of business.
We also ran the Program Management Forum (PMF), which was a monthly gathering of program and project managers. That’s the other side of the coin – not only do companies need to change to new products and markets, they also need to know how to implement and execute the change. PMF created a community for the execution to get great results on time and under budget.
Do you think networking has been helpful to you?
Yes! Tammy Marquez, who runs the Oregon Small Business Development Center, once told me “Rosi, you’re the Grand Convener!” That mantra is something I hold up with a badge of honor. I just naturally like putting people together, not only people who share common ground, but also those who bring a different viewpoint. The more diverse thinking you can put around a problem, the more likely you are to come up with a solution that works.
Q: What’s your best networking tip?
I think one of the first things to recognize is that everybody wants other people to be interested in them. When you go to any meeting you’re not meeting a business, you’re meeting a person. It’s good to have a few open-ended questions – listen to understand. Sharing your own related experiences creates a dialogue instead of two monologues.
I have attended events in which I heard canned elevator pitches but didn’t feel I met the person – that’s not what networking is.
A lot of people are held back by their fear and anxiety regarding networking. Do you have any advice for these people?
Realizing that no matter what, you’re still going to be standing when you leave the party. I think people should have the mindset of “learn something every day,” whether it’s about yourself or somebody else.
If somebody really was fearful of networking, the first thing they might do is bring someone just to be there beside them and let them know that they’re not going to die. Very few people are actually going to say no to you, so don’t be afraid! Doing a practice run in the mirror and speaking aloud is sometimes helpful.
When you’re going to a networking event, do you have certain outcomes in mind or a certain strategy going in?
When we think of networking in the business sense, we think of meeting someone who has a problem that we think we can solve. We’re always trying to meet people and ascertain what their business is like, how their business is doing, and the challenges they are facing right now. If we can help, we have achieved an outcome.
If it’s something that deserves more time, then we offer to go for a cup of coffee. If it’s something outside our own wheelhouse, we introduce the person to somebody who can help or suggest a book that we think might be useful. At this stage we know lots of resources, and if we can be a connector, then we have provided value. It’s all about adding value.
What do you do as far as follow-up after meeting with somebody for the first time?
I make sure to connect with them via LinkedIn, email, or a call. With LinkedIn Premium I can send them an in-mail message, but people don’t consistently use the messaging system, so I try sending a follow-up email. I try to get it out within a couple of days.
I’ve also heard that hand-written cards can be nice – do you ever use them?
I sent a hand-written note to a CEO of a large company in Salem, and he was amazed getting a hand-written card. He said it was almost a “lost art” these days.
For many of us, it always weighs on us when we haven’t stayed in touch like we had wanted. Don’t be fearful to reach out to people you haven’t talked to in a long time or don’t think they will remember you. In case they do, it’s worth the time to reconnect!
Can you give an example of a time your network has been helpful to you or to someone else?
I have lots of recent examples because networking is important to me. Recently, a close friend and extreme networker, Steve Thompson, introduced me to Sarah Garrison, President and CEO of the Pacific Northwest Defense Coalition. We got along famously, and for the last year we have worked very closely on several programs. One program, a new Executive Leadership Forum, will meet an unmet need for members to have a close-knit peer-to-peer network. I am doing the same for the Food and Beverage industry in Oregon later this year.
I know that I’ve introduced people to individuals, just encouraging them to go meet, and they now have a new job. That always really feels good, when you introduce somebody to a person that is hiring.
Networking is not a task; it’s about people meeting people. Two great books on the topic are Never Eat Alone and Go-Giver. Both will improve your views of networking!