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Ask Dr. Karen - June 22

Hi Dr. Karen,                                                                                                                                                                 

First of all I want to thank you for organizing the seminar for the CHICAGO GSB students. It was very informative for me. I am a GSB student. My question is, I meet so many high profile people but most of my links are professional and break off as soon as my project is over. I am having trouble keeping the connections alive. I am not sure how can I refresh those links. Let me know if you have any advice for me.

Anuj
 

Dear Anuj,

Step One:

 Itís the CONNECTIONS you make with someone that will take you to the next stage of building a relationship. How long do you spend with people?  Five minutes, an hour, part of a day, or longer?  Of course, the longer the better. No matter how long, though, unless the person just doesnít want to be bothered with you (in which case he or she is not worth your time) ask them some questions.  If you spend more than an hour with them there could easily be a moment of relaxation when the two of you can talk.  Over a spot of tea, coffee or water is great. Good things to ask at that point are:

  • How did you get into the work youíre doing?  Iím looking at the ways that people wind up where they are to look at my own career.
  • (for women) Iíve not x kids or kinds of family obligations.  How do you do all that you do with a family?
  • Every country worries about the next generation and how it will do.  Whatís worrying your country?
  • If youíre working on a project together: What do you find the most interesting about this project? Whatís puzzling?
  • What keeps you up at night?
  • There was a time when the cost of capital was the biggest issue on the mind of executives. Nowadays it may be global competition from the very folks you were outsourcing to just yesterday.
  •  Have some current topics of interest in the news ready to talk about.  Ask his or her opinion about the topic. That kind of intro is a good segue into asking a question.  You ask questions because youíre curious and love to learn.
  • What paper(s) do they read every day or week?  You would be surprised how many read their hometown paper!
  • Ask, ask and ask

Step Two:

Take a few notes about what youíve learned. You now have something of value to rely on to go back to these folks with an article, something out of a newspaper (subscribe to several online), or something youíve worked on with them. Youíve have lots of connections to start a dialogue. If you choose carefully you hope theyíll reply.


Step Three:

Opinion asking is a good idea when you have achieved a certain amount of comfort with the person.  Career guidance questions are also okay after youíve known them a bit. 

More questions just ask!

Cheers,
Dr. Karen

 

 

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