More On Networking And Team Building
My favorite way to conduct business is over cigars, preferably with an adult beverage. It isn’t something I can do every day, but I make the best of the times when I can. As I am always looking for new places to enjoy a cigar, I was willing to accept a 3:00 p.m. meeting this past Tuesday at Highland Cigar. Highland Cigar Company is located in a neighborhood just east of downtown Atlanta. This neighborhood, like many others close to downtown, is enjoying re-gentrification.
If you know anything about the traffic in Atlanta, the last thing you would want to do is to put yourself in a situation where you must commute home during rush hour. It is especially true if you are returning to the northern suburbs from downtown. Notwithstanding the traffic issue, I thought this meeting was worth the effort. It was an opportunity to spend time with Eric, one of my newest Associates. I arrived five minutes early and found a parking space on the street in front of Highland Cigar Company. Karma was smiling on me. When I stepped inside, I saw Eric sitting comfortably in front of his laptop enjoying a beer and cigar. We exchanged greetings, and he invited me to check out the humidor at the back of the store. It isn’t the largest or the best-stocked humidor I have seen, but it featured a number of my favorite brands. I picked out a Perdomo Habana, ordered a Guinness and rejoined Eric.
“Highland Cigar Company provides an uncompromising environment for acquiring and enjoying premium cigars and spirits. Our state-of-the-art ventilation system, comfortable leather sofas and high definition televisions create an experience like no other in the Atlanta area.”
As I settled in, lighting my cigar and savoring my first sips of Guinness, Eric told me a little about his affinity for Highland Cigars. It’s within walking distance to his home office, a convenient place to take a break. Highland Cigar Company is comfortable and inviting. It offers a variety of seating options including traditional seating at the bar. There were groups of over-stuffed leather chairs for quiet conversation as well as computer-friendly tables. As with most retail venues, they offer free wi-fi, so one can enjoy a cigar and a beverage and still be productive. In fact, many of the patrons in the bar were working on their Laptops. I view Starbucks as a suitable venue to work in the morning, whereas a cigar-bar is my preference for the afternoon. I came to realize that Highland Cigar Company was Eric’s home-away-from-home. I can appreciate that. After the background on Highland Cigar, we got down to business.
Eric began by saying that he was looking for guidance. He wanted to understand how to fit into our team and to make a meaningful contribution. He told me of a recent meeting with two other Members with similar skills. He sees value collaborating with them as they form the nucleus of a Practice Group. Our meeting was a great start as I am encouraged by proactive people, willing to contribute.
It pleases me to see folks willing to take a leadership role in the organization. We discussed the importance of networking within the Membership, to understand their capabilities. We talked about opportunities for him to present at our monthly meetings; when we schedule time for one Member to discuss their business model in greater detail. Eric liked that idea. I suggested that he join our Marketing Working Group, which would benefit from his contribution. That team is working to improve our brand positioning and value proposition. It was at this point that I recognized an increase in Eric’s energy level.
Eric has a strong background in project and program management. He is an accomplished professional with experience and connections that make him a valuable team member. He walked me through a deck related to one of his rebranding projects. Fabulous material! It was an outline of the project plan, complete with storyboards and deliverables. After he presented that material, he showed me the finished product which included a revised website. His work was impressive; highly professional and compelling. His contribution to our Marketing Working Group will be significant.
My meeting with Eric was very productive! I learned more about his capabilities to better position him within our team. I provided him with guidance to enhance his effectiveness. I found a new venue to conduct business while enjoying a favorite cigar. It was time well spent.
We concluded our meeting just ahead of rush hour, so my return home was uneventful. During my drive, I phoned another colleague to recap my meeting with Eric. We dialed him into the Marketing Group and invited him to their next meeting. I anticipate great things from that group. These one-to-ones are an essential component of our team-building efforts. It is an integral part of my plan. I become energized by these meetings.
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Jim Weber, President
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Author of: Fighting Alligators: Job Search Strategy For The New Normal