Thoughts about Networking

“Our Heads Are Round so our Thoughts Can Change Direction” [Francis Picabia]

UpsideDownAcademic – Epidemic

During my vacation, I just had another discussion with a “senior manager”, showing how little many of these highly paid people understand about the value of networking. It often seems to me that this is nothing they ever learned during their university times…?

People buy from people, not technologies.

No matter, how good your product is, no-one will believe it, if they don’t believe they “know” it.

The Wrong Questions

I had some questions and statements (Q) repeadetly the last years and think it might be wise to share my answers (A). If that stuff is voiced that often, you may be faced with the same smart people…

Q: “It’s very much about being at the right point at the right time.”
A: And the right point is the mind of the someone who thinks about buying. If you’re not in the mind, you won’t come to mind and you won’t sell.

conferencenetworkingQ: “Why should I go to this event, I can talk to them on the phone.”
A: Do you know, how many phone calls that someone gets every week, from people trying to enter their mind and memory? At these events, like-minded people meet. With the possibility to speak longer with people and face to face, trust can be established. An important factor for purchasing decisions.

Q: “Why should I be active on LinkedIn?”
A: For one, there are a lot more people on LinkedIn than you likely ever meet on trade shows. If these people are allowed to attend trade shows in the first place…

Q: “Then why should I attend trade shows – the people I seek to meet are not there!”
A: Because even if they themselves are not there. Their colleagues who are allowed to go will tell them. If you leave some impression.

“Wow, I had five real promising meetings today” – “Don’t worry, I didn’t sell anything either”

Q: “Is it better to have a stand or not?”
A: That depends. Can you attract people to your stand (it does require a catchy stand design and/or an established brand awareness). In my experience and for conferences with exhibition: If you are alone, skip the stand. Meet your audience face to face. Conferences are not about sitting around, but to meet and to talk to people! What I recommend though is that you use accessories that show who you are. Be it a cap, a polo-shirt (or light jacket) with logo or a catch phrase that attracts the right people to you, be it a bag – under all those black-ties, you got to stick out showing “Here I am!”
Interesting side note: I know a lot of sales & marketing people being too proud to “show off”. If you don’t want to show off (your product) you maybe got the wrong attitude for the job…

Q: Hey, I got invited for a speaker slot. I can present my product there.
A: If you can have a speaker slot, don’t use it to sell your product, but make sure you provide lasting value for your audience. If they are interested, they’ll be interested in your product. And after you paid for some of such slots, the organizers (if they’re worth their money) find you valuable and maybe even worth-while to invite or even pay you next time…

These opinions of managers do remind me too much of an old quote: “If you don’t try, you cannot win”.
But have they understood that they sell to people having their own priorities, agendas and opinions?

On the other side, I’ve received a nice graphic on LinkedIn lately I’d like to share with you. I like the first point very much, as I believe that you simply got to become a trusted partner to succeed, which is why it’s vital to build up “trusted networks”.


Food for Thought
Comments welcome

0 - click to show Jürgen you liked the post

My American Airlines Story

“Our Heads Are Round so our Thoughts Can Change Direction” [Francis Picabia]

As many of you know, I started my career with American Airlines. That I left due to a mobbing supervisor was one of the “mistakes” I do happen to regret in my career. Though looking at American today, I am not so sure if I’d be a happy employee either.

As Air Transport News summarized World Low Cost Airline 2013 congress: “In the current cut-throat market conditions with the so-called legacy carriers cutting jobs, renegotiating staff contracts, the concept of customer loyalty to a brand is becoming obsolete as the lines between full service carriers and low cost ones are getting blurry and price has become the key factor for customers when it comes to choosing a short haul flight.”, they make a common mistake, as I strongly believe that brand is not becoming obsolete, just neglected.

AA logos during the times
AA. No question.
AA. No question.

When I started with American, it was the world’s largest airline. We were Proud to be American, we received frequent training to always smile at the customer and “customer first”. We also received monthly video updates from the senior management about strategic plans and news, we were a big family. Reminder: That was the World’s largest airline. In all those years, in fact in the past 80 years, the American aircraft was easily distinguishable by the eAAgle on the tail with it’s double A. In many movies, AA aircraft could be identified simply by the silver body with the blue/white/red stripe, even without the logo or the name on the body not being visible. From far away and even in bad weather, the aircraft was easily distinguishable by its prominent AA on the tail.

blank nose
blank nose

The new aircraft at that is a greyish color, reminded me on my first encounter too much of the U.S. Military Airlift Command, with bright colors being the name on the side of the body and the colors of the American flag on the tail, very similar to U.S. Airways and with very little profile. And the main identifier, the “AA” is gone for good…

American (new) - US Airways - American (traditional)
American (new) – US Airways – American (traditional)

The staff is “just another airline”, I did not receive much of a smile at all, neither on the ground, nor in the air. Having been the pacemaker in aviation technology, inventing SABRE, enabling global bookings long before Internet, Frequent Flyer Program and Yield Management, technical problems found me at a loss. British Airways, partner of AA in the Oneworld Alliance was unable to issue the Boarding Pass for the connecting AA-flight – all being booked under AA flight number. Baggage being checked through to Vancouver, I received one boarding pass for HAJLHR, then in London the next one for LHRDFW and because the onward flight was beyond 24 hours (I made a 23hr-stop to meet friAAnds), I only got my third boarding pass to Vancouver in DFW. My baggage they could handle, but to issue the boarding passes for the entire trip was a technical problem? I’m at a loss, find that even questionable on a legal level…

Robert "Bob" Crandall
Robert “Bob” Crandall

Discussing my experience with friAAnds and stAAf I met during my trip, I found that the AA-spirit is gone. Ever since Bob Crandall left, the button-counters took over, who had no vision, but claimed they’d know how to make money. Trashing the high values I encountered in my time when Bob Crandall was in charge, staff is an expensive and expendable resource, service is a theoretical concept of questionable value, people just fear for their jobs and working for American competes with working for anyone else. And now AA is under Chapter 11, “restructuring”. Well, a good result to turn the world leader in aviation to a patient under Chapter 11, right?

Image by Wirtschaftswoche
Goodbye Lufthansa

What is my personal lesson about this? I believe that brand is underestimated. Be it American to drop a recognized, gradually developed brand of 80+ years, dropping the “AA” which was a core in 40+ years of AAdvertising, or be it Lufthansa, “outsourcing” European flights to “Germanwings”, with no visible relation to its mother. And wondering, why passengers show no longer any brand loyalty flying within Europe.

And it confirms lessons that I learned many years ago. My “boss” during business education in a large whole sale business told me: “There is always someone who can do it cheaper”. So price is not a differentiator for a sustainable business.

Richard Eastman
Richard Eastman

And my friend Richard taught me: “Price is psychological”. It is about what is the buyer willing to pay for what reasons. And “cheap” is mostly not the main value. Brand, service, loyalty, identification are very important drivers. Why would one buy an Apple iPad? There are cheaper tablets out there, some of them possibly even better. Why do I buy a Windows-based Ultrabook convertible replacing my Laptop and my iPad? Why do I choose brand X over brand Y? Believe me, I could buy “the same” for half the price, but my experience with the brand is good, why should I go “cheap” on something as important as my IT?

Airline Managers focused on the Return-of-Investment and the Shareholder Value but without a vision are followers, they do not make good managers.

Any good business started with someone believing in an idea and taking a risk. Once you loose that entrepeneural spirit, you become a follower and start loosing.

Food for Thought
(comments welcome)
3 - click to show Jürgen you liked the post

Social Networks …

“Our Heads Are Round so our Thoughts Can Change Direction” [Francis Picabia]

A personal post today…

Do you know …

… where you usually find me online?


Many people keep telling me, they did loose my phone number… What could be easier to go to an check it out?

Some people ask me for the source of the Lazarus Long quotes I happen to use so much… Same site, simply look at “Links“.

If you are member in social networks, you are likely too to be able to link to me – at least for the big ones… Mostly I use a customized e-Mail-address to identify Spam sources. It is usually jb.[sitename] at, that works i.e. for Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn.

I am not in Xing any more, as I did get spam mails and when I reported them, Xing simply neglected they’d be at fault and denied to even look into it. Being neglected doesn’t help at all to proof their innocence.
Plaxo, Hi5 and other sites had so little value to me, that I never came to use them much… I have an account on StayFriends, but don’t use that much either, there are just some friends being there and not on Facebook (yet).

At Amazon, we use a family account and do maintain small wishlists, you can find that using amazon at …

I am not much using eBay – mostly the stuff is not truly cheaper than on the free market and I am not really into “second hand”, especially not for sources I don’t know. Neither Facebook’s BranchOut – it doesn’t compare to my LinkedIn-network. I link on Routes Online, but they don’t support much social networking yet, I do more with Routes on Facebook (and LinkedIn) than on the Routes-site.

yb-social-networksYulia mostly uses and (StayFriends for Russians).

Time flies
Time flies

What concerns me quite a bit… It is wonderful to be “remote” and keep the contact. But it takes too much time! At my last job, I got so many mails, if I would have answered them all, I wouldn’t have been able to do my job! And I do not talk about the Spams, they’ve been filtered away, but the once that did “require” my attention. We do not need a secretary any more to handle our writing, but we need an assistant to filter out our mails and respond to the unimportant ones! And yes, I understand, you want my second best (you won’t get my family), but I plan expenses and I won’t just spend budget “on the fly”, because your product is so hip. My day has – believe it or not – 24 hours. Out of which there is time to work, time to take care about myself, time for family and time for friends. We have something called work-hours and we have something called weekend (though in our industry, that may be mid-week or be skipped occasionally). And at work, I am there to lead my (employer’s/client’s) company to success, not “yours”… If I spend money, it is to achieve objectives – you may have nice, hip solutions, but if they do not meet my objectives (at the end of the year, a maximized income for my company).

I prefer Facebook for two reasons:

  1. facebook-logoThe communication is more personal – I believe social networks are not “all business”, but it is about friends. Friends in different stages. I wrote a story once on a blog I meanwhile disabled about the Greek definitions of “love”, ranging from Eros (sexual) and Philia (“platonic”, loving friendship), to Agape (religious) and possibly the most important here: Xenia (hospitality).
  2. I reach hundreds of “friends” within a single posting. I do not need to bother you with individual mails. And yes, I happen to not only look at my wall, but also (especially on your birthdays if I know them) visit your profile and appreciate it – and regret if we did not meet lately!

logo-linkedinLinkedIn is nice, but it is mostly a business contact list. I occasionally do “answer questions” there, but just to read and reply takes too much time – time that is in short supply!

logo-skypeAnd I love Skype, as it does allow to see each other.And yes, Skype is also “social networking”. As Social Networks are not limited to “online portals”, but are about people I know! In person 😉

icon-routesI just missed ITB – the third time in 24 years. I meet friends at Routes, at French Connect, at ITB, also in Frankfurt, Munich or Berlin traveling – I don’t travel half as much as I used to and I do admit, I miss that. I don’t want to travel as much as in my “traveling days”, but it would be nice to travel several times a year long haul for business… I also admit, I can’t wait to leave Erfurt. It is a beautiful, medieval city with nice shopping and night-life, but it’s no longer connected by scheduled flights whatsoever and such for most of you “at the a… end of the world”. I want to be more accessible again and have you visiting me… As mentioned before, Xenia, the loving hospitality, is very important to me, I love to have my friends visiting. And network live and in person 😀


Lately, I got on Facebook a nice anonymous quote: “It’s been said, that everlasting friends go long periods of time without speaking and never questioning their friendship. These friends pick up phones, like they just spoke yesterday, regardless of how long it has been or how far away they live, and they don’t hold grudges. They understand that live is busy but friendship lasts.”

So … how do you use online tools and portals for social networking? How do you see the buzz word “social networking” on- and offline? Do you prefer the more personal communication and link I use in Facebook or more the “be linked and don’t bother” of LinkedIn? What do you think about my blog and does it make you think – or do I bore you? I see the blog is being read (I do have general webserver-statistics), but I do not see as much comments as I’d like? But most:

And where and when do we meet again? When did we talk last time?

Food for Thought

0 - click to show Jürgen you liked the post

Social Networking

“Our Heads Are Round so our Thoughts Can Change Direction” [Francis Picabia]

Social MediaAs Blogs are a part of “social networking” and as I follow several blogs like the German Tourismuszukunft, I thought to share some thoughts. As usual, I do appreciate your feedback. This blog is meant to trigger thoughts and make you ask me. My statements are thoughtful, but not necessarily the only truth. Often enough, I do learn better from the exchange with you.

In November, I finally signed up for Facebook and Plaxo, finding old and new friends active in these networks. As of my “troubled history” with Xing and as a majority of my friends are international, I moved my private activities to Facebook and focus professionally on LinkedIn. Oh yes, and my reviews I add to Qype, though I did not have much time for that either lately. I publish once a week in this blog, try to think a bit about the philosophical blog on Sapphilosophy, try to answer on LinkedIn and communicate with my friends and update them on Facebook. Now I want to install WordPress on my website to move my blogs away from Big Brother Google, and my website needs some updating too… Information Overkill…

In an interview, I was just questioned that I do so much “business related activities”. But don’t we all have our hobbies? Business Development, Aviation and Hospitality are my business. And my hobby. My life. But we need to find the time first we can then invest into business and hobbies alike. On- or offline. And in honesty: I appreciate being a lot easier in touch with you than 20 years ago. And I appreciate a phone call (Skype?) and e-Mail. But isn’t a personal meeting definitely more valuable than any electronic exchange. Isn’t that, why we all appreciate opportunities like ITB to meet face to face with many in a short time? Isn’t that the same true for Sales? Yes, once a contact is established, e-communication is okay. But it does not forever substitute for personal meetings.

Food For Thought! (Share your thoughts with me)

0 - click to show Jürgen you liked the post