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Opportunities Knock Unexpectedly

By: Bonnie Coffey

 

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My little white Ford Focus, nicknamed “Snow White,” is one of my proudest accomplishments. Unexpectedly left a widow in early 2011, it is the very first car I bought on my own. She and I have been on cross-country trips together and survived a hail storm that left her quite dimpled and in need of serious repair. I’m partial to my car.

 
Fairly fresh from her latest trauma, we were slowly driving through a shopping mall, carefully avoiding the speed bumps. Suddenly, Snow White shuddered a bit before I realized that we’d been hit. Turning around, it was clear that the car had been backed into—by a super-sized Chevy Silverado with a major-league bumper and trailer hitch. Ouch!
 
The Silverado’s owner and I moved to the outer parking lot to sort out paperwork and call the local police. She was forthcoming that she hadn’t seen me (no wonder—her truck was five times the size of Snow White!) and we waited for the officer to arrive to make everything official.
 
And then the wonder of networking happened: We started finding connections. As it turns out, she and her husband travel quite a bit, using that monster-sized trailer hitch to haul a home-away-from-home. He is a supervisor for oil field hands and she helps coordinate schedules. She’s a retired insurance agent (how serendipitous!) who enjoys spending time on the road with her husband, sightseeing. Since I not only enjoy sightseeing, but am also curious about living in a trailer, we had a great conversation. I also learned that she was heading for a town that I had just recently visited, so I was able to let her know more about her new temporary area.
 
In the space of twenty minutes, Mary and I were able to turn a minor car accident into a successful exchange of information and resources. This event, which had the potential of being a tense and difficult-at-best situation, was an absolutely pleasant encounter that left us both with a great connection.
 
One doesn’t always have to be in a formal networking situation to be able to network. You don’t always need an after-work event to learn about the people around you. Opportunities present themselves on a regular and daily basis. Being prepared to take advantage of those opportunities requires some training with solid face-to-face (F2F) skills and strategies.
 
As we say at Contacts Count, “You need to be prepared to be spontaneous!”
 
Published: April 9, 2014
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Bonnie Coffey

Bonnie Coffey is a business and community leader and, as a Certified Trainer and Associate with Contacts Count, LLC, she teaches the skills and strategies of face-to-face (F2F) networking for professional and personal success. Her far-reaching career has impacted business, political, financial, and leadership organizations throughout the country. Her client list includes AARP® Foundation, Heinz Family Philanthropies, U.S. Department of Labor–Women’s Bureau, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, American Chemical Society, Decorating Den, American Business Women’s Association (ABWA), McCombs School of Business/University of Texas at Austin, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Union Pacific. She’s been featured in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine, Creative Training Techniques, Women in Business and has been a columnist with the Lincoln Journal Star since 2001.  Her book, “Dreams for Our Daughters,” embodies her belief in the future of our next generation of women leaders.

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