Making A More Meaningful Connection

January 26th, 2015

There’s a work conference that I’ve been attending for over a decade now. I’ve made long-time friends and colleagues there with whom I keep in regular touch. Many of us do the same work, consulting and selling similar products, and over the years we’ve formed “master mind groups,” where we meet every month virtually to encourage each other and discuss big ideas, as well as to stay up to date on our personal lives. We’ve grown to deeply care for and trust one another.

I always find it more fun and engaging to build relationships with people who are open and willing to be a multi-dimensional resource to other business folk, as well as to their community, and who add extra value to their clients and friends in order to succeed together.

With any group or event we join, there are always a few people there who only want to mingle with those they see “value” in, while ignoring others. Or there is the infamous business card ninja, who throws their business card at everyone around them.  That is no way to truly connect with people.

That’s why a Forbes article on forging real connections struck me. Below are their valuable tips.
Regardless of status or fame, people are people. And the 7 pillars of making a connection with another person are always the same.

  1. Be genuine. The only connections that work will be the ones that you truly care about; the world will see through anything short of that. If you don’t have a genuine interest in the person with whom you’re trying to connect, then stop trying.
  2. Provide massive help. Even the biggest and most powerful people in the world have something they’d like help with. Too many people never reach out to those above them due to the fear that they wouldn’t be able to offer anything in return. But you have more to offer than you realize: write an article or blog post about them, share their project with your community, offer to spread their message through a video interview with them. Give real thought to who you could connect them with to benefit their goals. If it turns out you can’t be that helpful, the gesture alone will stand out.
  3. Pay ridiculous attention. It’s nearly impossible to genuinely offer help if you don’t pay attention — I mean real attention, not just to what business they started or what sport they like! Do your research by reading blog posts, books and articles about the connection beforehand. Learn about their backgrounds and passions. Invest genuine time in learning what really matters to them and how you can help.
  4. Connect with people close to them. Most job openings are filled through networking and referrals, and making connections is no different. You automatically arrive with credibility when referred to someone you want to meet by a mutual friend. For example, I recently wanted to meet a best-selling author, and it turned out we had the same personal trainer. In reality, that fact means nothing, but in the world of social dynamics, it’s gold! Spend more time connecting with your current network of friends and colleagues and see where it leads.
  5. Persistence wins most battles. If you can’t get a direct referral, simply click send on that email or leave a message after the beep. But do not stop there, as most the world tends to. The first attempt is just the very beginning. Realize that the first try may get you nowhere, but the fifth or the tenth tries are the ones that start to yield results. An unreturned email or voicemail doesn’t mean they don’t want to connect with you. It’s your job to be persistent! I sometimes get hundreds of requests in a day from readers who want to connect, but only about 2 percent ever follow up. Don’t be in a hurry, but don’t be invisible either.
  6. Make real friends. Think about how you’ve made the friends you have. That’s all this is. You only make friends with people you genuinely want in your life. The same rule should go for bigger-name connections. Don’t over-think it. Be human, be helpful and most humans will happily be human in return, regardless of who they are.
  7. Remain unforgettable. All of the above are simple — yet sadly underused — ways of standing out. Send birthday cards. Mail your favorite book with a signed personal note from you on the inside flap. Send them your family Christmas card. Be genuinely helpful. You’d be surprised how the simplest things actually never get done. Being memorable isn’t as hard as some think!More great info on this topic! Forbes– Networking Is Not Working: The Secret to Making Meaningful Connections

A Simpler Kind of Giving

December 11th, 2014

Happy Holidays! ‘Tis the season for giving! As a child, I remember getting a red Schwinn two-wheel bicycle. Within no time, I was riding it around Bay Ridge, Brooklyn with no hands on the bars! It was a joyful time. It is wonderful to receive, and in a way, it is easier to receive than to give. To receive a gift, a compliment, or encouragement is something that one just accepts and enjoys. That is what I did. It is fun and gratifying to receive, but to give…that takes consciousness, effort and creativity. I’m sure that in your holiday season (whichever one that involves gifts), you’ll be asked to give, repeatedly. Today, the little ones will have long lists of toys, accessories and tech gadgets that they hope to receive. Our co-workers may surprise us with gifts, and our peers will ask that we donate to worthy causes and charities. You’ll do so much giving that it may become overwhelming! Yet, I too ask you to give, and in fact, I urge you to give more and more frequently!

Before you stop reading, let me explain what I mean.

I offer you these non-material, inexpensive and creative options you can give during holiday seasons, and year round:

TIME: In our busy lives, nothing is more valuable than the time you spend with family and loved ones. Reserve a small chunk of your schedule to spend with those you love and, better yet, with those who need you. Be intentional about catching up over coffee or enjoying a few hours in a park or playground. Offer to help someone at work who is struggling to figure something out. Trust me, they will appreciate it and will remember that moment for a long, long time.

COMPLIMENTS: On my way home recently, someone said I looked “very dapper.” We don’t compliment people enough anymore, and I think we should. It made my day. A genuine and thoughtful compliment, even to a stranger, will evoke joy and positivity.

GUIDANCE & ADVICE: It is easy to surround yourself with successful people and ignore others who are struggling or just starting their careers, forgetting that we had to start from somewhere too. To this day, I talk with people who call and want to know about the consulting profession, all because someone else (Eleanor Upton) did that for me early on. Offering advice to someone who needs it will not just be beneficial to the other party, but it will allow you to share your wisdom and to analyze your own past and present journey.

Now by no means am I advocating for you to be a Scrooge. If you’re able to donate to charities, you should, and if you can manage to give toys and tech to youngsters and friends alike, do it! Make them happy. These ideas are meant to make sure that you don’t exhaust your mind or wallet trying to come up with nice things to give. And..if you still need a tangible gift idea, here’s a link to Raleigh Consulting Group’s Dr. Rob Ferguson book on Making Conflict Work. This is a practical gift of both knowledge and advice for the folks at your office. Season’s greetings,

5 Pitfalls That Make Workplace Conflicts Worse

November 17th, 2014
“Be kind, respect others, and be grateful.” My colleague, Marshall Brain ( ) was telling a group of us about how, if we all did three of those things, the world would be a much better place. I love his advice because it is so simple, straightforward and makes sense. And it is easy to do. Well, maybe not always. If so, we wouldn’t have as much bad conflict in the world as we do.For most of my consulting career, we have worked trying to resolve conflict in companies and between people. Some conflict is healthy. It can generate energy and push people past boundaries. Most of the time, however, unresolved conflicts lead to real trouble. As you know from our recent newsletters, my partner, Dr. Rob Ferguson, has just co-authored and published a book entitled Making Conflict Work: Harnessing the Power of Disagreement. Below is a valuable excerpt on avoiding conflict pitfalls.Avoiding the 5 Pitfalls of Conflict:

1. Treating all conflicts as the same. Our research has identified seven distinct conflict situations, depending on how cooperative or competitive the parties are, who has more or less power, and how much they need each other to achieve their goals. The seven situations are Compassionate Responsibility, Command and Control, Cooperative Dependence, Unhappy Tolerance, Independence, Partnership, and Enemy Territory. Each situation requires a different approach, and diagnosing the situation correctly leads to the most effective strategy..

2. Ignoring power differences. Most leaders (and consultants) overlook the full significance of how power differences affect conflict. Whether you have more power than the other party, or less, it takes additional skills to get to the real issues and achieve your goals. If you have less power, you risk overstepping your bounds or inviting abuse. If you have more power, you risk eliciting dishonesty or sabotage from your supervisee. Ignoring power differences, and lacking a strategy for them, can render standard conflict resolution methods ineffective.

3. Abusing the power you have. Read any page of any history book and you see how monarchs, generals and presidents abuse power. But so do supervisors, middle managers, and team leads. You only need a little power to abuse it –– and thus make yourself less effective in conflict. Some of the most common power traps include: “The Bulletproof Trap” (you make conflicts worse by thinking you are invincible), the “Not-Seeing-the-Trees-for-the-Forest Trap” (you appear insensitive to your underlings by ignoring details because you only see the “big picture”), and the “Screw the Rules Trap” (you bend or break rules because after all, you’re special –– you’re the leader! This sets the stage for minor or major rebellions).

4. Neglecting the power you have. When you find yourself in lower power in a conflict, you may fall into different traps. These include the “Keep your Head Down Trap” (you keep your aspirations so low you don’t even try to find better solutions), the “Powerlessness Corrupts Trap” (you succumb to cynicism or rage toward those in authority, turning to apathy or sabotage), and the “Victim Status Trap” (you wallow in a sense of oppression and victimhood, which ironically can lead to a sense of superiority and refusal to negotiate).

5. Misunderstanding power. Don’t make conflict worse by acting passively. Even if you are less powerful than the person with whom you disagree, it doesn’t mean you have no power. Less power does not equal powerless. There are always informal ways to influence managers and leaders above you in the organization. And these methods do not show up on the org chart. They include actions such as appealing to the others’ interests, eliciting cooperation, creating positive relations with superiors, fostering reciprocity, rational persuasion, increasing their dependence on you, and more.

And remember. Keep it simple too. “Be kind, respect others, and be grateful.” One can never go wrong with that advice.

To learn more, visit, or order “Making Conflict Work: Harnessing the Power of Disagreement” by Peter T. Coleman and Robert Ferguson.


DISC Certification Available 

September 7th, 2014

Contact George Alwon at for additional info.

How you will benefit from this program:

  • Improve your ability to grow in your position and within your company
  • Understand styles that allow you to avoid the pitfalls of misconceptions, miscommunication and misunderstandings
  • Streamline the recruitment and hiring process
  • Understand and facilitate the growth of your executive and management teams better
  • Increase your Emotional Intelligence
  • Create more positive relationships with vendors
  • Serve customers better
  • Adapt your style of communication and management to maximize work relationships
  • Resolve team and individual conflicts more effectively

New SBI Issue 

September 7th, 2014

There are many perspectives of what 2012 holds for the Triangle. The prevailing view seems to see some economic growth and improvement in employment. This issue of Small Business Insight of the Triangle contains profiles on the focus, talent and entrepreneurial spirit that define our successful local businesses.

Click to read the NEWEST issue of Small Business Insight of the Triangle.

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New SBI Issue 

September 7th, 2014

The second issue of Small Business Insight is available now, featuring key business owners in the Triangle and five great area restaurants that are perfect for your next business lunch.

For updates on SBI of the Triangle visit and click on LIKE.

RCG Collaborates with Growing Leaders Seminar for Teens 

September 7th, 2014

As part of RCG’s commitment to community service, George Alwon, Donna Hall and Sarah Van will be facilitators at a two-day program on August 4th and 5th entitled Growing Leaders Seminar, intended for teens ages 13-18.

This dynamic, highly participative seminar will focus on skills development in communication, leadership and team building. It will be held at the Lake Johnson Community Center and will include team activities like boating and drumming. We encourage you to consider this program if you have teens aged 13-18 and would appreciate it if you would forward this information to others who might be interested.

For more details and contact and registration info:

Magazine Launch 

September 7th, 2014

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We’re excited to announce the premier issue of SBI of the TriangleSmall Business Insight of the Triangle is a new bi-monthly online magazine based on the key concept of being for business owners, written by business owners. Building on the success of Small Business Insight of Hampton Roads, Raleigh Consulting Group is pleased to work with Bill Davis of Team Nimbus NC, to help bring this venture to the Triangle.

The magazine will serve as a forum for heightened learning and communication as we capture the voice of small business through featured articles and company profiles. Our first issue highlights 14 Triangle area businesses honored in Inc. Magazine’s 5000 fastest growing companies in America. We hope you’ll take some time to check out the first issue of SBI of the Triangle, and tell us what you think!

For updates on SBI of the Triangle visit and click on LIKE.

We’re Now On Facebook 

September 7th, 2014

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Follow us on facebook for regular RCG updates as well as useful business tips, videos and articles. 

Matching Learning to a Multi-Generation Workforce

September 7th, 2014

Free webinar- Nov. 16, 2010 at 12:00 pm EST

11 a.m. Central Standard Time (Chicago), 10 a.m. Mountain Standard Time (Denver) and 9 a.m. Pacific Standard Time (San Diego)
RCG’s George Alwon will be a Guest Speaker in this free webinar offered through Vital Learning. The current workforce contains the widest span of generations all working together to meet today’s challenges. It is now more important than ever to match training resources and practices to meet the learning needs of all members of the workforce.

The ‘wired’ Millennials generation is pushing the landscape of learning in a variety of ways. This 60-minute Webinar will examine the Learning 2.0 paradigm shift and discuss what organizations can do now to integrate it with current training strategies. Social media is growing … learn how to use it to build a thriving, leading-edge learning community in your organization!