Q & A for guest blog tour and media
(This is my answers to blog questions for a blog tour. Feel free to use some or all, or to send me customized questions. email@example.com. Meanwhile, if you have a book you would like to have us consider, please send an inquiry.)
1. Tell us about your book.
Networlding is all about how to make Malcolm’s Gladwell’s best-selling book, The Tipping Point, work in today’s “Networked World.” It provides a seven-step, proven system (picked up by Yale University for example) for building effective networks that yield accelerated returns.
It helps companies and individuals accelerate goal achievement as it has the science of networks imbedded into the steps. The book is an evolution of another book I wrote on networking and decades of research on effective networking. Bottomline: it’s great for both people looking to grow new business opportunities or new career opportunities.
2. How did you get started as a writer?
I was a writer back when I was in college, taking every writing course I could find. But it was really after I started my own company after law school and trying out a big legal career that I decided what I really wanted to do was to go back to consulting. I was around when computers were first being used and I was able to “catch the wave” of the new world of work that time brought forth.
I loved people and I loved computers and I also realized I wanted to help people start businesses, so I reached out to my network and found a publisher in Chicago, Dearborn Publishing, who took a deep interest in my first book idea—a resource book for entrepreneurs. That started my writing with my first book, The Chicago Entrepreneurs Sourcebook.
That did well becoming one of the top 10 small business books in Chicago the year it came out. From there I just kept writing and now have 11 books out.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
My day starts with calls from either authors-to-be or from my alliance partners who work with me on our various projects. I am licensing out the Networlding methodology and now have five licensees this year having taken on five since January and with a goal to have ten by the end of the year. Therefore, daily, I’ll be working on some kind of support for the licensees, helping them market and develop their Networlding practice. Our licensees come from all over the country and now are coming from outside of the country, so our conversations with them, by phone, focus on how to market effectively to people and companies in their respective communities to help these prospects understand the benefits of our methodology.
Other days I’ll be speaking at a conference as a keynoter or panelist on social media and networking. I usually don’t travel a lot any more. I try to send one of our virtual partners, first.
My day continues with requests by email to help someone get a book written and marketed. Now we are growing out our publishing division so my days can also include identifying organizations—especially consulting firms who can really grow their market share by authoring books.
4. Describe your desk/workspace.
This is simple, I have a creative room (really!). It’s got a cool red coach and a simple dark oak desk with a Mac G5 on it, but I usually sit on my comfy red coach with my Mac Air on my lap. I just love the Mac Air. I can walk around with it and it is so light it almost floats. With it and a wireless headset, I feel like I am wired to the world.
5. Favorite books (especially for writers)
Great question. Since I do so much book coaching I don’t read as much by other authors on writing books but, instead, do major research on the top-selling books. I analyze what makes those books sell and then try out those strategies with my authors. But I do like Julia Cameron’s, The Right to Write .
6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you.
1. Everyone thinks I am so brave, but, really, I am as scared to death of doing brave things like calling up CEO’s for new business as anyone else. I just call myself “stupidly courageous.” 2. I know you won’t think this is crazy but in a world where everyone is out for themselves, I really mean it when I say that my greatest goal in life if to win the Nobel Peace Prize for teaching companies how to “do well by doing good.” I would then give my prize money to the foundation I am forming to help disadvantaged kids get better starts in life after college (and right now there are a lot of disadvantaged kids out there). 3. I want to open up an innovation store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago in the current Borders Store that will be going out of business by the end of the year. It’s a crazy dream but for more than a decade I have had a dream to do that and now that retail is dying I believe we should “redefine retail.”
This would look like a store with thirty kiosks leased by innovative companies and inter-connected by what I call “business concierge” who help customers connect with these companies to innovate and buy cutting edge products and services. I don’t know how I will do it but I know I will . . . someday, but it is crazy! At least people tell me it is! Others want to be a part of it!
7. Favorite quote –
“As the world starts to move from a primarily vertical — command and control — system for creation value to a more horizontal — connect and collaborate — value creation model, and as we blow away more walls, ceilings and floors at the same time, societies are going to find themselves facing a lot of very profound changes all at once. “ – Thomas Friedman, The World is Flat
8. Best and worst part of being a writer.
The best part is that you can really create something that makes a difference for many and it can impact people year after year. The worst part for me is that writing can be lonely.
9. Advice for other writers.
Ask for help, but also ask, “How can I help you? I think the worst thing an author can do is not to ask for help.
10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. Can be funny, embarrassing, inspirational, etc. (“I once pitched an agent at a urinal. It did not go well.”).
Having been able to get almost a dozen books published but the most exciting time was when my publisher came to me and asked, “Melissa, what would you like to write next?”
I was able to pitch a couple of ideas and my publisher then asked me which one I would like to do more and I chose the one for which I had a stronger passion. The lesson for me was to turn your relationship with your publisher (when you get one) into a more personal relationship—a collaborative one that enables you to have creative conversations like the one I just referenced. What it took for me to create that was staying in touch with my publisher and learning, also, what types of books he was interested in seeing published.
Networlding’s origins evolved out of the parent company I founded and grew, Service Showcase, Inc. in 1987
Networlding was based on her 7th book by the same name, Networlding, published by Jossey Bass, a subsidiary of Wiley and co-authored with the first Chief Marketing Officer of Motorola.
The book was brought out in 2000. It preceded the book The Tipping Point (2002) and shared a comprehensive system for creating, building and leveraging leadership networks when delivered as training inside mid-sized and Fortune 500 companies and later, implemented as a very successful social networking-social media marketing strategy.
What follows is a history of both Service Showcase and Networlding to date:
- 1987: I start Service Showcase, Inc.–a marketing and management consulting firm with a unique focus–helping consumers and businesses find trusted service providers. The company was an early “Angie’s List.”
- 1988: I bring on an angel investor and grew the company to about 8 employees, starting in the Chicagoland suburbs.
- 1989: Service Showcase grows to more than 100 services represented on the consumer side and, after getting some major national press, I decide to expand to also market business services.
- 1992: I start teaching entrepreneurial courses on marketing and management of small businesses and decides she wants to write a book. I secure a publishing contract with Dearborn Publishing (now Kaplan) and comes out with her first book, The Chicago Entrepreneurs Sourcebook, that creates many requests from top banks and accounting firms to work with them to help them market to small businesses. This book is also promoted by the State of Illinois and becomes one of the top ten business books in Chicago as a great resource for entrepreneurs.
- 1993: I decide to downsize my business and re-invent herself as a speaker, consultant and trainer on the subject of marketing for entrepreneurs. I also sell a number of people, nationwide, my process for starting a service-based referral network.
- 1994: I secure another book contract, this time to write about my newly-found passion–networking. My book, Make Your Connections Count: Six Steps to Build Your MegaNetwork is published again by Dearborn and, this time, I am asked to work at a major accounting firm and teach accountants around the country the science of networking.
- 1997: Melissa partners with colleague, Dick Whitney, to bring out a book that, to this day, still sells very well called 75 Cage Rattling Questions to Change the Way You Work: Shake-Em-Up Questions to Open Meetings, Ignite Discussion, and Spark Creativity.
- 1998: My book, The Power of Two: How Companies of All Sizes Can Build Alliance Networks that Create Business Opportunities, is published by Jossey Bass. Here, Melissa has co-authored with John Conlan, at that time head of Internal Alliances for Accenture.
- 1999: Melissa collaborates with Jocelyn Carter Miller to write “Networlding: Building Relationships and Opportunities for Success” picked up by Jossey Bass.
- 2006: The Wisdom Network: An 8-Step Process for Identifying, Sharing and Leveraging Individual Expertise comes out published by the American Management Association. This is a book co-authored by me with the Chief Knowledge Officer of UBS at the time, Stee Benton.The book is a model for building successful collaborative networks within organizations.
- 2008: The Nanosecond Networlding: Changing Lives in An Instant Forever -A Modern Business Fairytale comes out by my publishing division, Networlding Publishing, set in the form of a powerful business fable that takes place from New York to Spain to Paris. Melissa wanted to further help people understand the power of networking in the new digital age.
- 2009 The guidebook for Networlding, Networlding Guidebook: Building Strategic Relationships Through Networking is published by Networlding Publishing, a division I created to publish additional books that would support the the thought leadership I was creating around the science of networks.
- 2011: I partnered with Larry Mohl and secure a book contract to write Networking is Dead: Creating Relationships that Matter by BenBella books.
- 2012: Networking is Dead is released November 6th, 2012.
For those of you who appreciate bullet points, following is an overview of my past accomplishments:
- Won an “Outstanding Woman of the Decade” award by The University of Chicago Women’s Business Advisory Group
- Taught networking since 1987 when I wrote my first networking book, Make Your Connections Count.
- Wrote Networlding, my seventh book and in the first year with The Chicagoland Chamber as a partner, took 1000 professionals through Networlding bootcamps.
- Worked as a VP writing whitepapers on networks for a company called Participate.com where we worked on AT&T’s worldnet, Arthur Andersen’s KnowledgeSpace and The Ace Hardware Dealer network (to name a few).
- Gifted an innovation center for a year at 401 N. Michigan Ave. in the heart of Chicago’s retail Magnificent Mile in 2006 focused on helping entrepreneurs.
- Hosted a revitalization event for the city of Chicago during the recession in October 2002 with 350 top leaders in the city who volunteered their time to help revitalize the economy.
- Formed The Networlding Partner Alliance with one of my co-authors, Steve Benton (on internal social networks)
- Assisted top thought leaders such as Andres Tapia, Chief Diversity Officer of Hewitt in the creation of his first, ground breaking book called The Inclusion Paradox.
- Hosted hundreds of interactive networking events and delivering, on average, fifty presentations a year on the science and art of social networking.
- Coached over 4000 people on the use of social networking tools–specifically LinkedIn.
- Received a six-figure fee for acting as a spokesperson for AT&T for a year with the goal of networking in communities, starting with Chicago, to grow brand loyalty.
Social Media Made Easier
Meet the social media team I created. By personifying in my blog posts I believe it will help you learn to welcome them into your day-to-day world of work.
Larry is the top-notch professional. He knows that it takes a well-crafted profile and time to find others he knows and through them, others he can get to know to build a great network. He takes his valuable time daily to link with others who he believes he can help and who, in turn, can help him.
Tommy loves to connect with others and finds that Twitter is the one place he can connect most effectively one-to-one. He also loves to spend time creating the best 120-140 character tweets that get attention.
Frannie is the most social of the social media experts. She befriends so many and, like any great friend, is always there to help, especially when it comes to community building. Offline and online, you want to know Frannie.
Gary is thoughtful and very patient. He realizes that the time will come when all of his hard work building relationships on Google+ will pay off. He just stays steady and waits for the next big wave of growth.
Polly is the new kid on the block. She is all about a picture being worth a thousand words. She is constantly sharing all her favorite things.