How Working Out Loud made me hit the “send” button

Although my first contact with Working Out Loud (WOL) was a couple of years back, there is one situation from my coaching with John Stepper which sticks to my mind. It is kind of imprinted in my brain.

I had just discovered my new interest in corporate history and I had a very simple task:

send an email to a company which just built a fantastic corporate history section on their website – fitting for their 125th birthday!

This task took me a week – and another week – and another week. I think five weeks after putting it on my to-do-list, I finally sent an email. Just three sentences but those were the hardest of the 12 weeks coaching.

What kept me? Well, as said above I just discovered my interest. I didn’t really know what to do with it. If this interest would stay with me or not. I felt a bit like a fraud, contacting someone who does this for a living. Even if it was for complimenting him or her on his/her work.

Fast forward

And today? Well, it was two weeks ago.

I am in the middle of preparing a presentation for the German Genealogy Day in Dresden with the topic “Corporate Archives as source for Genealogy”. As you can see, the interest sticked with me and now I even talk about it.

To be able to share my expertise I needed some input from these corporate archives. I spoke to our very own from the Historical Association of Deutsche Bank and he provided me with a contact list.

And without hesitation, I sent out an email to a group of 30 corporate historians of companies like BASF, BMW, Siemens, ThyssenKrupp, etc. – the big ones. I even attached a short survey of five questions. Asking for their time to fill the survey.

One day later, my mailbox started to explode! It really just took them a day to reply initially. Some requested more information on the talk: when, how, why, who and so on. Some apologized for postponing the reply as they are covered with other tasks right now.

And I learnt that one of them is an active genealogist himself, but unfortunately he cannot make it to Dresden. I would have loved to meet him in person. As I wrote in my reply.

And on a side note: not a single one did NOT reply!

My relationship list grew over night and not just from a quantity level but even more from a quality perspective.

What was the difference to back then?

I had something to offer! You might say now “what? You wanted something from them!”. That is correct, but in exchange I had something to offer.  More than just an interest. Since the beginning of my WOL journey I developed an expertise in corporate history myself. Not to be compared to the people who are doing this for a living, but I know what I am talking about.

And my email was phrased like that. I told them how I got their name and contact, outlining what I am preparing for and why I would appreciate their input. And of course I will share the outcome with them. And they will be named as my sources.

I provide an outlet. I talk about them and their work and what they have to offer in front of an audience up to 650 people!

That is my expertise! That is what I have to offer.

And this is what I learnt with Working Out Loud.

Knowing what you have to offer is crucial when you want to build a sustainable network. It is not about what you get but about what you are able to give!

And this is why WOL made me hit the “send” button.

What did WOL make you do? I would love to hear about it!

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