December 20, 2012

Hola from the Galapagos Islands where I am vacationing with my family.  What an amazing trip!   Truly, I don’t even know where to begin to share this experience.  We have already taken thousands of pictures and, in the next couple of weeks, I hope to put together a photo book that tells the story.  Over time, my intention is to share with you some ideas, information and lessons related to networking that are emerging from our time in South America.  For starters, one important idea stands out:  Adaptations.

The volcanic archipelago known as the Galapagos Islands is comprised of 13 major islands, six smaller islands and scores of minor islets in the Pacific Ocean, about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, of which it is officially a part.  It is these islands that Charles Darwin visited for about 30 days in 1835 which made him consider the notion of evolution for the first time.

Specifically, Darwin studied finches and mockingbirds.  In so doing, he noticed that, though the animals were located relatively nearby geographically, the particularities of the terrain on each island varied and, so too did the particularities of these birds.  On one island, where the food source was of one type – requiring, for example, nuts or seeds to be cracked, the birds’ beaks were of a certain shape.  In others, where flowers or insects were the primary food source, the birds’ beaks had different shapes.  Same bird… adapted to meet its needs.

And so, this is but one networking lesson that I brought back for the CLC community as a small souvenir:  That is, as conditions require, one must adapt his/her approach to connecting with others to fit the particular situation.

This is not a new concept.  We have discussed many times that different situations call for different measures.

  • For example, if you are meeting people for the first time in a large group setting, you may wish to have a short, but memorable, conversation with your new contact, exchange phone numbers and/or email addresses, commit to following up and call it a successful encounter.  You probably would not choose that time to offer your resume or ask for an introduction to another potential contact or try to close a sale.
  • However, if you are meeting that same individual, one-on-one, for a more intimate, more detailed conversation, you are likely to shift your style and the tone of the conversation to get to know your new contact more fully.  In this scenario, you are you more apt to open yourself to requests for favors and to ask for favors from others.  Now is the time to learn more, to deepen your relationship, to determine how you might be able to add value to one another’s lives.  It’s simply a more personal place to get to know another person.

These are small tweaks, nuances really, but they can have major implications.  The casual observer may not even recognize them.  Just like Darwin’s Finches… can you tell the difference between a small tree finch and a large tree finch?  Or perhaps the sharp beaked ground finch vs. the mangrove finch or the cactus finch?  It may seem unimportant to human observers, but these creatures’ lives depend on their adaptations.  Though they came from a sole source, they have varied their shapes, sizes, features to meet their particular needs.  Same thing with networking… not only should we engage in this effort as if our lives depended on it, but we must constantly adapt our approach and style and features to meet our particular needs and those of our contacts.