By Santino Provenzano
Keith Ferrazi, New York Times bestseller and author of “Never Eat Alone”, a business self help guide to networking, once said “The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity”. The first time I heard this quote it seemed a bit oddly placed in a world where so much of the networking we do is geared towards developing contacts that can advance our business and our careers. But through the years I have begun to understand that the connections we make in our business lives go so much further. Our active participation in Leadership Tampa 2014 and our involvement with the Chamber will also enrich our lives on a personal level, and present opportunities to enrich the lives of others in our community, in ways both small and large. Over the holidays, I was lucky enough to have those beliefs confirmed when I experienced the power a simple introduction can make.
After Service Day, when our class had the opportunity to spend some time with the team at Metropolitan Ministries, I, like many of my classmates, was inspired to get involved and donate some of my time to assist at the Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent, where the organization distributes toys and food for families in need. When I arrived, I was given the task of helping people to their vehicles, which presented an opportunity to talk and interact with Metropolitan’s customers. The overwhelming majority of those I spoke to were thankful and to some extent relieved, that Christmas for their families would be a little brighter. It was a very emotional and powerful experience. But as with anything in life, there was also some disappointment; some people may not have received the toy they had hoped to give their child, others may not have received a turkey for their Christmas dinner. These emotions were equally as powerful. I spent the quiet time I had on my drive home that night reflecting on those disappointments and wondered how I would feel if I were in the same position. We take so much for granted! What if we had to present a Christmas dinner without turkey, or our son or daughter woke up on Christmas day without that bicycle their parents knew they wanted but did not have the means to provide?
These thoughts continued to weigh heavily on my mind when I arrived the Chamber’s Annual meeting the next day. I quickly found my seat, and after saying hello to the folks at my table, I began making the rounds, and was introduced to Thomas Mantz, the Executive Director of Feeding America Tampa Bay. Almost immediately my mind went back to the previous night and the disappointment of those who did not receive a turkey for Christmas dinner, so I conveyed my experience to Tom. I mentioned that if there might be extra turkeys at the bank, they could definitely be used over at Metropolitan’s operation. Soon after, our conversation ended, as they called for everyone to take their seats so the program could begin.
The next morning, I grabbed my coffee, checked my email, and to my surprise, was cc’d on the following message from Thomas at Feeding America to Tim Marks at Metropolitan Ministries:
We heard you all needed some turkeys – we’ve arranged for your folks to pick up 350 of them from us today…
Happy Holidays – thanks for all you do in the community.
As you can imagine, I was totally floored. A simple introduction, a 5 minute conversation, and the quick action of our non-profit leaders resulted in 350 families having a turkey for Christmas dinner, and just a little bit better Christmas. That’s the true power of connections.