Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Master Networker: Erika Hanson Brown

The other day I blogged about networking and kindness from strangers. What's really cool is when you can transition from stranger to a virtual friend to a real friend -- sit across from someone, talk, and really Laugh Out Loud. (I much prefer real LOL'ing to the over-used virtual lol.)

Erika Hanson Brown is one of those people that's fun to Laugh Out Loud with. Full of spunk and energy, you can't help but smile when you're around her. She looks and even sounds like Diane Keaton and we thought it quite the coincidence that Keaton played a character named Erica in Something's Gotta Give. (And while I cannot understand Keaton's attraction to Jack Nicholson, Erika totally gets it.)

Erika found me first because of a guest post I'd made about Networking on Jacob Share's JobMob site. Once I learned more about her, I found out that Erika is the Queen of Connections! She makes a career out of networking! How cool is that? An example of a successful entrepreneur written about in Denver Woman, Erika is the Chief Strategist of Steller Connections LLC. The company started as an executive search firm but has broadened into Relationship Brokerage, including services such as training and workshops on networking and relationship building. Erika is passionate about networking and writes about the importance of discernment in her posterous blog. Her system?

The Connectoring® Verities*

1. Be Real
2. Charm Them
3. Seek More
4. Move Boldly
5. Shamelessly Support
6. Deliver Cookies
7. Show Up

In the short time I've known her, I can see Erika leads by example, demonstrating these values. Authentic to the core, she will tell you what's on her mind, being fully herself. I asked her about #6... "Delivering cookies?" (Still in geek-mode, I wasn't sure if we were talking browser options here.) Erika said it used to be "Delivering Jelly" until the word "jelly" was met with a few raised eyebrows. She explained the jelly (now cookies) with a story from her childhood. She and her mother had traveled cross-country to New York in a Studebaker Golden Hawk with jars and jars of Montana jelly. Erika said her mother would freely offer up jelly to strangers who would often offer back kindnesses in return. She and her mother were soon rooming in penthouse suites at minimal rates and hob-nobbing with Ella Fitzgerald in jazz clubs. And it all started with offering jelly. She remembers her mother, an early networker before the days of computers, getting out her fine stationary to write thank you notes and keep in touch with her connections. Whether it be cookies, jelly, or a personal note, the point is to give something of yourself.

Though I only took a couple of photos, I'm posting the one that I think demonstrates Erika's Bold and Charming side. Jumping up onto a little wall outside of Whole Foods, she examines the overgrown plant of some sort, trying to discover it's identity. (She guessed giant sunflower, but I thought it looked a lot like the huge weeds in my back yard.) Ya gotta love that spontaneity. But what I think most captures the 7 Verities is the smile.

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