Great meeting you…now here’s a list of people I’d like to meet

linkedin-logoThis year a considerable part of my time has been spent networking and building relationships.  Relationship building has been more important for my business than even the basic digital strategies like search engine optimization. Almost all of my leads have from word-of-month referrals.

That means I’ve attended a lot of networking events and met a lot of people. At every one of these networking events, there are usually a plethora of financial planners/advisors wanting to get to know me better.

Usually, these are good experiences, but I’ve had two encounters this year that have just made me feel really uncomfortable.

Both meetings were pretty straightforward at the start — learning more about what we do, ask questions and determine what is a good referral for that person.  In the case of these two people, who also happen to work for the same financial services company, it goes one step further.

They pull out a list of people from your LinkedIn contact list they’d like to meet. In my case, about half were all from my previous job. The rest were a mix of people that I have met along the way.  Then there’s a pretty strong push for me to provide introductions to the people on the list.

Both times my “Gibbs Gut” didn’t feel right about it.

I’m not a networking/relationship expert, but I do know that people I have referred business to or from all have an established relationship. Some of those people are from my church circle, others are from current/former clients and the rest are from business networking groups.

My challenge is this: I will be happy to refer someone if the ask for someone I know.  I just don’t want to blindly make introductions to people who may not be interested in their services.  I have found it difficult to refer a financial planner because they are like hairdressers. You have to find one you like.

I’m happy to make a referral, you just need to have a better reason than these people who are just part of your list.

My weight loss challenge

Weight Loss ScaleI’m going to take a brief aside from talking technology to go public about a personal challenge I’ve undertaken.  I’m taking another crack at trying to lose weight.  This time there was a financial incentive to try it — a discount on the family insurance plan.

For those who have known me for a long time, I’ve always struggled with my weight — well I think the name calling began around 3rd grade. It’s been a family thing for me, both of my parents are overweight and both have had weight loss surgeries to try to combat the problem. Their success has been mixed.

When I lived in Texas, I spent 3-6 months a made a crack at losing weight — getting a gym membership and working out while at lunch or after work. However, the pounds didn’t come off. I grew frustrated and ended up giving up.

In general, I’ve maintained the same weight (give or take 10 lbs) since 2000. I was surprised by that fact when I came across some of my medical records from that time.

Well now that I have two kids, including a four-year-old who has a very active lifestyle — I’m again trying to take this seriously and make a concerted effort to lose weight. That and the financial incentive — a discount on our health insurance.

WellPoint has a program called Weight Talk, and this weight loss program is to help address and make a change to my lifestyle. It includes weekly coaching calls and a to-do list of things to help make those lifestyle changes.

To start, I’m setting a personal goal of losing 35 lbs. by April 2014. To accomplish this, I’m going to work to stay under 2,000 calories a day and making a more concerted effort to eat fruits and vegetables. I’m also going to stay away from the things I traditionally loved — brownies, potato chips, fast food and other junk.

For example, my lunch while writing this post I had a salad and soup and unsweetened tea at McCallisters Deli. Normally, I would have indulged in a spud, sandwich, sweet tea and chocolate cookie.

Now if I’m good at staying under my limits, I will let myself have a treat — just not overindulge.  Technology is helping me here, I’m using the Livestrong Calorie Tracker app to track at home and on the road. I’m also looking at MyFitnessPal as well, since their database is much more extensive.

Also, I guess I need to be upfront with my weight. I’ve not been one to ever disclose publicly, but I need to be accountable to myself as well — if it’s in print I can’t try to fudge the number later.

So here it goes… Day 1 was October 14 I weighed in at 297.8 lbs. After two weeks I weighed in at 288.8.  Not a bad start.

The next step is to attempt to get up and move more, which is difficult for someone who spends 8-10 hours a day in front of the PC. The WeightTalk folks have provided me with a digital pedometer and we’re working towards a 10,000 steps a day walking goal. I know this will be more of a challenge than eating right. I’ve even pulled out the Wii Fit, that I got for Sandy and will use that as my rainy day exercise plan.

Someday I hope to spend the money on a TreadDesk. The good ones run about $2,200 — so as we’re still trying to get the bills paid it’s off the table for now.

Right now, I’m still a bit skeptical I’m going to successfully shed the pounds. My previous attempts have not succeeded and I know the problems have been genetic as well. My hope that by going public about my challenge will help spur me into staying the course.

Let’s hope that this time is the charm.  I’ll do my best to update my progress as we move forward.