Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Review: Don't Kiss on the Lips...
3 Stars - Recommended for readers familiar with genre (and who can find the humor in networking)
Early one morning, while hanging around the author booths in the back of Javits Center during this year's BEA, a woman approached me with a copy of this book in her hand. "The author is signing this book right now, if you would like a copy, " she said. I flipped through it quickly, saw that no one was in the line (hence the reason the woman was pitching it to passer-bys) and decided to grab one.
The title is catchy enough.. "Don't Kiss on the Lips and Other Networking Tips" sounds like sound advice, right? And it immediately made me think of my former place of employment.
We didn't kiss each other on the lips... well, that I know of anyway.... but there were times where, at my old job, all members of management met in the upstairs office for hand-off meetings between shifts. And during those hand-off meetings which occured before a holiday, we were subjected to huggings and "cheek kissings" from our respective counterparts, managers, and building manager- much to my dismay - as we wished each other "a happy insert-the-current-holiday-here".
Most people don't mind this display of friendly affection and well-wishing. But you have to understand something.... I am extremely fond of my personal space. I feel most comfortable when coworkers, and any other non-member-of-my-immediate-family for that matter, remain a good arms-length away while conversing with me.
These holiday hand-off meetings at work were sheer torture for me. I referred to them as "greasy cheek" meetings. Because - after the rubbing of many cheeks against my own cheek - it felt as though the side of my face was buried beneath a layer of everyone's oily dead skin and face sweat. (Excuse me while I attempt to swallow the urge to vomit...) I always felt the dire need to run home, strip off my clothes, and scrub my cheeks raw with bleach under a boiling hot shower.
Don't Kiss on the Lips is an extremely quick read, meant to be flipped through in preparation for a business dinner or networking event. Short, simple, and very much to the point. And also, at times, quite humorous.
See, the introduction states that this book is meant for both the seasoned professional and the networking newbie (my term, not theirs). And therein lies the issue. While some of the tips make smart powerful statements, others fall too far off the mark and should be considered "common sense" instead of "networking tips".
Here, let's test a few. I'll share a Networking Tip with you and you have to tell me if it's a smart statement, or if it should be considered common sense. Ready?
Tip # 1 - Most job openings are filled by networking - It's one of the most valuable skills you will ever develop. (what do you say, guys? Smart Statement, or Common Sense? Definitely smart, right? Right!)
Tip # 3 - People are more likely to remember how you said something than what you said. So speak with confidence. (Smart Statement or Common Sense? I'm sticking with smart again. It's good advice.)
Tip # 7 - Ask the person you are talking to how they like to be contacted. (I think that is an extremely smart statement. Are you with me so far?)
Tip # 11 - Do not be a stalker. (Oh shit..... can you define stalker..?)
Tip # 15 - Send handwritten thank-you notes telling people why it was good to meet them, and include your business card so they will remember you. (That's another smart statement. We could always get better at this one!)
Tip # 22 - It's never OK to lie. (Really? Like... never ever? Damn... I was saving a coupla good ones up...)
Tip # 25 - Your business card should not be so thin that it gives anyone a paper cut. (I'm torn on this one. On the one hand, it's a smart statement, right? I mean, we certainly don't want anyone bleeding all over the place because we were too cheap to purchase quality cards... yet on the other hand, you'd have to be a complete moron to hand those razor-wanna-be's out, right?)
Tip # 32 - When someone hands you a business card, take time to read it. (Totally smart statement.)
Tip # 37 If the person you would like to meet is in the middle of a conversation, do not interrupt. (uhm.. duh? Common sense. Move on.)
Tip # 42 - Brush your teeth before you go to a networking event. (No wonder everyone was staring at my mouth as I spoke.. I had this HUGE ASS piece of spinach between my teeth! Why didn't anyone tell me??)
Tip # 82 - Try not to swear. (Ok, I'm screwed. I mean, between the whole "it's never ok to lie" thing, and the fact that stalking is frowned upon, and now the not swearing thing.. Hell, am I allowed to breathe? Are you going to to try to take that away from me too? Geesh!)
So, you see what I mean? There are 84 tips in all... and while there are a lot more smart statements like the ones I've shared above, there are also a handful more of those completely unnecessary tips that made me chuckle. Maybe that's why they are in there? To lighten the mood, to add a little comic relief? To give this book cross-genre appeal? To make it impossible for the employees at the book store to determine whether it should be shelved with the humor books or the informative ones? All of the above?
Whatever the case, I found it highly entertaining and may even photocopy a few of these pages to display in my office window. To give the guys something to think about as they go from meeting to meeting, and person to person... Something to influence the building's morale. God knows we've all got to take a good look at what we are doing right, and what we need to do differently. And sometimes, we just gotta learn how to laugh at ourselves too!