OTS 003: Everything Runs on Relationships

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Today’s guest is a housing and community development professional with diverse, multi-sector experience. Early in his career he was an AmeriCorps*VISTA for two years which is where he launched an “Urban Service Experience” series and led efforts to conduct a neighborhood risk and resource assessment.

His interest in urban planning led him to The Heller School at Brandeis University where he received his Master’s in Public Policy and then to work for 5 years as a Presidential Management Fellow at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He led efforts in Massachusetts to implement HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration Program, a program that allows expiring use multifamily properties to be preserved as long-term affordable housing. He also provided strategic support to State partners on high-level issues such as public housing governance reform and addressing Veteran’s homelessness statewide.

He was a New Leaders Council Fellow in 2010 and Director of the Boston Chapter from 2012-2014. This interview was recorded when he was Director of Policy at Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. He recently became Assistant Director of Leased Housing & Rental Services at Rhode Island Housing.

Please join me in welcoming Charley Francis.

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OTS 002: When Will Women Win the Right to Pockets

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Welcome back to On the Schmooze. Thank you so much for joining me. Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Benjamin Perkins, this week you’ll be hearing from me, your host.

Every other week I’ll be offering my take on some aspect of networking and relationship-building.

These shorter podcast episodes will include practical networking tips and techniques you can put into practice right away. My hope is that insights from me and my guests will help you achieve the leadership position you’re seeking, build and sustain your professional network, and find the work/life balance that works best for you.

This week I’ll be talking about a vexing problem that affects many professional women. When will women win the right to pockets?

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OTS 001: Unconsciousness does not equal innocence

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I’m excited to have with me today, a fellow member of LeadBoston class of 2015. LeadBoston is an executive education program, that focuses on the inner workings of Boston and socially responsible leadership.

I met my guest initially through his work at Fenway Institute which was launched in 2001 by Fenway Health as an interdisciplinary center for research, training, education and policy development focusing on national and international health issues, especially related to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities.

Currently, he is the Vice President of Multicultural Initiatives and Health Equity at the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, where he is focused on engaging and cultivating community partners in the fight for equitable health outcomes within communities of color.

Please join me in welcoming Benjamin Perkins.

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OTS 000: Introduction | 8 Steps for Successful Networking

Introduction & 8 Steps for Successful Networking with host Robbie Samuels

Welcome to On the Schmooze, a weekly podcast that features a mix of interviews and solo shows.  My hope is that insights from me and my guests will help you achieve the leadership position you’re seeking, build and sustain your professional network, and find the work/life balance that works best for you.  Interviews are with talented people from different fields.  We explore how they built strong networks and overcame challenges on their way to becoming successful leaders.  I identify a key take-away from each interview, something you can put into action that week that you’ll benefit from for years to come. In the show notes I provide resources to help you get started.  Solo shows are shorter episodes every other week where I share practical networking tips and techniques you can put into practice right away.  Podcast inspired by business and marketing guru Dorie Clark, Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income, Jonny Nastor of Hack the Entrepreneur, and Dale Carnegie.

In today’s episode you will learn a bit about me, my expectations for this podcast, and what to expect from the first three episodes. I believe the best way to demonstrate why you should subscribe is to share solid content in this introductory episode, so I also shared my 8 Steps for Successful Networking.

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Email Intro Etiquette

@ icon via flickr AJC ajcann.wordpress.com, Gmail icon via flickr RaHuL Rodriguez

Networking isn’t about collecting business cards it’s about building relationships. [click to tweet] One way to do that is to make introductions between two people who may benefit from knowing each other.

Before making an email introduction stop to consider whether the connection will be beneficial for both parties. If not, than it’s probably best not to make the introduction because your aim should be that both parties are happy you introduced them. If you are unsure whether the more senior person would be open to the introduction it is best to email them privately to ask. Busy people stay productive because they know how to say no, so don’t be surprised if that is their response. Give them a gracious way to decline.

Now that you’re clear that an introduction is a good idea take the time to write a thoughtful introduction email.

Subject line: E-intro Bob Jones and Marie Vantos Include both names in the subject line to increase the chances of the email being opened.

Tip: Add their company names to the subject line if at least one has a recognizable company name.

In the first paragraph: Bob, I want to introduce you to Marie Vantos. Follow this with a sentence about who Marie is, how you met and/or how well you know each other. Marie, meet Bob Jones.  Follow this with a sentence about who Bob is, how you met and/or how well you know each other. 

Extrovert Privilege

silhouettes of people mingling with butterflies above them in bright colors and one person off to the side with a flower above them

image credit: bloodyblue.deviantart.com
I’m an extrovert. If bonus points were awarded on the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, I’d test higher than “7” for extroversion. That means I get energy from being around people. I’m able to keep up a demanding schedule (while caring for an infant) that would exhaust introverts if they just heard about it. I don’t work hard for this advantage, therefore, I call it a privilege.

I’m also very outgoing. I’m a social butterfly in most social situations and have no problem talking to strangers. For many years I was unaware of the advantages I received for being an outgoing extrovert. I moved through the world obtuse to the struggles of shy and/or introverted people who felt uncomfortable and/or exhausted in social settings.

Thankfully, I’m now much more self-aware and put energy into making it easier for people who aren’t outgoing extroverts to be part of the conversation. For instance, I could take over any small group conversation by telling a funny story. But, just because I can, doesn’t mean I should.

Help hiring managers hire you

Close-up of job announcement with the words candidate in bold

image credit: The Blue Diamond Gallery
Anyone who has ever had the responsibility of hiring will tell you that it’s a lot of work, takes a ton of hours, and is a major distraction from their day-to-day to do list. Charged with hiring the very best person from a diverse pool of highly qualified candidates can be quite the challenge for even the best hiring managers.

Job searching isn’t a picnic either. Submitting what seems like endless resumes can really wear you down and make even the most optimistic person feel like they are begging for work.

Here’s the thing. You can’t bring a negative “begging” attitude to a conversation about prospective employment. It won’t make a good impression or lead to introductions.

Hiring managers would absolutely love to happen to meet a highly qualified candidate while they were out at a networking event. It would give them confidence that there are great candidates out there for their position. They’d also have a moment interacting with you socially to see whether you’d be a good fit with their team.

Instead of saying you are “looking for a job” be specific about where you want to work and what you bring to the table.

What can you, as the job seeker, offer? What skills and passions do you have? What are you hoping to learn at your next job? What connections within your industry do you bring?

If you are looking for work it is always best to be specific when networking. [click to tweet]

Now that I’m a dad…

Ocean-themed nursery

image credit: Jess Samuels
I’m a dad. Wow. I need to repeat that. I’m a dad.

This is all still so new for me. My son, Grant Graeson Samuels, was born on Tuesday, December 15 at 9:11pm and instantly I became a member of a special club. I’m a parent now.

Instant Rapport

I started to become aware of this extensive and abundant community when my wife and I began to share the great news that she was pregnant. Instantly there was rapport between me and anyone else who has children.

Leave them thinking you’re fascinating…

Office workers at holiday party

image credit: adwriter via flickr
With all the holiday parties coming up you’re going to have a lot of opportunities to practice schmoozing. Maybe small talk isn’t your thing so you are dreading the idea and wondering how you’ll ever survive mundane topics like the weather and traffic.

Start the conversation off on the right foot:

1) Greet people by saying your name. Don’t assume they remember.

2) Ask an open-ended question that gets them talking about themselves. 

Ideas for this time of year:

  • What are your family’s favorite holiday traditions?
  • What are your favorite holiday memories from childhood?

Any time of year you could ask:

  • Have you traveled anywhere recently?
  • If you had free time, how would you fill it?

My standard opening question is, “How did you hear about this event?”

3) Listen intently and ask thoughtful follow-up questions to engage them further. Don’t have any knowledge about the topic they brought up? Not sure how to respond?

Strategic volunteering launched my career

Margaret Mead quote: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it's the only thing that ever has."

I’ve lived in Boston for just over 13 years, which is long enough to know I’m a newcomer. [click to tweet] When I arrived in 2002, I didn’t have secure housing or a job, much less a professional network.

Soon after moving to Boston I received two full-time career-track job offers on the same day. What made that possible? Strategic volunteering.

For over a year prior to moving to Boston, I visited regularly to build relationships with new friends, learn my way around the city, and get to know the organizations I hoped to work for.

At least once a month I volunteered for Fenway Health’s outreach program. After a few months I was offered the opportunity to be a lead volunteer, in charge of setting up the outreach table and training new volunteers. I accepted and was then in regular contact with staff at Fenway Health.

I also signed up to volunteer at AIDS Action Committee’s AIDS Walk a few months before moving to Boston. I knew I needed to stand out in a crowd of volunteers, so I offered to help out the day prior as well as the day of the event. The morning of the event I was asked to take a leadership volunteer role. AIDS Action staff now knew me and that I could be counted on.