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To Be Interesting, Be Interested – Molly Wendell, The Networked Organization (Atlanta Growth Summit)

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Thu, Jun 16, 2016

Fortune_2016_Scale_Up_Growth_Summit.pngEntertaining!  Molly Wendell was perhaps the most engaging and amusing presenters of the entire Fortune sponsored, Scaling Up Atlanta Growth Summit.

Is there a proper way to shake hands?

Perhaps the most entertaining and hilarious segment of Molly’s presentation was as she went through the group of attendee’s attempting to find 5 individuals who could shake hands properly in 5 minutes. 

Imagine you shook hands with her.  Molly_Wendell_Network_Org.jpgMolly did that about 100 -150 times, each time jabbing someone with a comment, “Oh, your mother wouldn’t even like that!” or “Did I just put my hand in a vice grip?”  Several times she would stop and consider the handshake for a moment, “Close but NO!”  or “Yikes are you a wimp or what?”

The attendees loved her repartee.  Even those she was humiliating laughed.  She had a powerful personality that energized the audience.  Details on the best way to shake hands will be in the Takeaways at the end of this blog.


Molly offered a lot of insights on networking; where to wear your name tag, what to put on your name tag, what to say to someone when you introduce yourself, what to do before accepting an online invitation to your network, and of course how to shake hands.

The most powerful idea to me was why we are so poorly prepared to network, and why we dislike it so much.  Most people Molly noted dislike networking because they don’t like to talk about themselves.  Her advice: get the questions off you as quickly as possible and onto them. 

Molly offered ideas on what you need to do and what your organization needs to do to network effectively.  I’ll plan to return to that as I read her book and provide these in a future blog.

Here are Molly’s 7 RULES of Relationship Building with my insights added from her presentation:

  1. It’s not about you – To be interesting, be interested. It’s that simple.  She recommended developing a series of questions when in a networking situation.  She has seven Questions she asks which are really 3 questions repeated 3X
    1. What do you do?
    2. Where do you work
    3. How long have you been there?
    4. And where did you work before that?
    5. How long were there?
    6. And where were you before that?
    7. How long were you there?

The goal is to discover how big their network is and the value of their network. You might also ask what prompted your switch from A company to B company?  If they’ve been at the same company for 25 years you’re likely to discover they have a small network.  She also recommended some questions for when you’re flying which I tested on my flight back.  (I had a great deal of opportunity to do so since my flight got delayed due to bad weather in Chicago and a two hour flight didn’t arrive for about 7 hours).  Simple question to ask anyone on a flight is, “Coming or going?”  Some people get confused by that, but just play along.  Once they answer whether they are coming or going, ask, “business or pleasure? “  You can then ask any variety of questions or go to the 7 questions she offered above.  I had no problem conversing with a number of passengers, and most were happy to share.  It was enjoyable getting to know so many people.

  1. Build the well before you need the water – Molly called this the law of two favors. Offer to help someone twice and they will reciprocate in the future.
  2. Be there and aware – Molly believes it’s important to make people feel comfortable. If you see they have spinach in their teeth, tell them.  Why?  Because in the same position, wouldn’t you want someone to tell you?  She had an awkward story when she told someone at a party they had a dog hair on their cheek.  Turned out it wasn’t a dog hair it was the lady’s actual hair.  She finally went to the restroom to remove it.  Molly offered think how long this woman had this hair on her cheek and no one had every told her!
  3. Be interesting by being interested – Molly related several stories of plane flights where she kept asking the person next to her questions about them. When the flight landed the passenger always said, “This is the best flight I’ve remember!”
  4. Assume positive intent – When you write an email, always do so with positive intent. Molly feels 100% of emails can be misinterpreted.  Make sure your message is positive and simply pick up the phone and speak to the person.  If you feel you need to have your conversation documented, then write your message and send it while you’re speaking on the phone to this person.
  5. Attitude is everything – No one ever says, “Joe is such a downer, I think I’ll send him some business!” Happy people don’t have the best of everything they make the best of everything!
  6. Let them win – Often when we think we’re contributing we’re actually stealing. Ask someone where’s the best restaurant, or best ice cream?  When they answer often times we tell them our best restaurant or ice cream place.  Instead of supporting them and listening to them we detract from the conversation by offering our opinion.  Let them win!  


  • The_Networked_Organization.jpgTo shake hands correctly step forward with her hand out stretched. Grasp the person’s hand firmly but not too hard.  If comfortable make eye contact, smile and then shake your strangers hand two times and release.  State your name full name.  “Hi I’m Doug Wick!”  
  • Going to a network event carry a Sharpie with you. Pens don’t show up nearly as well as a sharpie on a name tag.  Wear your name tag on you right lapel.  This way when you shake hands they can see your name as you say it.
  • Don’t give out your business cards. Ask for theirs.  The person that controls the business cards, controls the networking.
  • Have a goal for each networking event. It may be to attain one lead, a contact or an idea. 
  • Find the fascinating in everyone. It’s there you just have to probe and ask the right questions.  Remember the best way to be interesting is to be interested!

The highlight of the Scaling Up Fortune Sponsored Atlanta Growth Summit was going to be and turned out as I’d planned to be Aubrey Daniels presentation.  What surprised me was not what Aubrey Daniels, author of Bringing Out the Best in People offered.  It was the surprising inability of people to understand the consequences of not following his ideas and their inability to put his ideas into action, even among my customer who’d read the book and attended the Growth Summit with me.  For Insights on Aubrey Daniels Presentation and its consequences for your business join us next blog.

Topics: People, The Networked Organization, Molly Wendell, networking

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