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Four Life-Changing Minutes

Spoiler-Alert: This blog is intended to encourage you to bestow acts of kindness on someone you don’t know. There are specific instructions on how to do this which should take four minutes or less to complete. Whether or not you participate, please read all the way to the end.

But first, an introduction.

Recently I attended my 25th high school class reunion. Class reunions are not very big here in Canada but in the U.S., where I grew up, they are big fat hairy deals. Happily, I can say that I’m at the age where my classmates and I seem to be comfortable in our own shoes, and accordingly, it was an incredibly unpretentious affair filled with the joy of seeing old friends I haven’t seen in a long time.

One thing I learned from being among these wonderful people is that I don’t do enough for others in my day-to-day life. As I listened to some of my classmates speak about how they’ve spent some of their time helping others, I felt a bit of emptiness. I am capable of being more generous with my time, but perhaps because I sometimes feel bombarded with requests, I think I have turned off the generosity tap.

As I got in my car that night I said to my husband, “I really need to find that one thing I can do that will truly make a difference, and I’m going to do it”. For a few days after that, I mulled over some ideas, but one idea in particular really resonated with me.

I can assist Brian.

Brian Oughton is someone I have known since I was seven years old. Brian and I swam together on the Woodstock Dolphins and growing up he lived around the corner from me. Let me tell you something great about Brian–he was never the Homecoming King or the quarterback of the football team or band geek or the Valedictorian, but he was close friends with all who were. That’s a huge statement about his character.

I like to associate myself with nice people and Brian definitely qualifies. Brian is easy-going. He’s unexpectedly witty, articulate and a bit self-deprecating. He’s serious but doesn’t take himself seriously. He’s a conversationalist but he doesn’t talk too much. He is a good listener. He doesn’t waste your time. He has strong family values.

Brian lost his job in the recession and has been out of work for longer than anyone with his type of experience or work ethic should be. In my view he is a huge catch for an employer in his industry. Going into the reunion, since I pride myself on my level of use of LinkedIn, I should’ve known he was unemployed still, but I didn’t. When I was speaking with him at the reunion, he mentioned me that he followed me on LinkedIn and asked me casually if I had any suggestions for him. I gave him my standard pat answer about how to use social media to leverage your connections. The conversation moved on to other subjects.

It was my reflecting on how shallow my answer was to someone who was a friend and someone in need that pushed me into trying to do something more to assist him. To have been useful, I should’ve rolled up my sleeves a bit more. I can do that. To quote a TV show that was very popular when I knew Brian best, “We have the technology.”

LinkedIn is a tool that is predicated on helping people meet people who can help them through warm connections. I regularly preach that the person you need to meet is typically several degrees from you and your connections from time-to-time may be in a position to help you meet those who can help you.

As someone connected to me, I am asking you to assist me to assist Brian. Brian isn’t looking for a handout, or a crutch, but rather he’s looking for assistance to make the connections he needs to help himself.

In a nutshell, here is his bio. He has 20 years of experience in the printing and packaging industries. He has worked for good companies. He is looking for an opportunity in a leadership capacity in procurement, quality or operations. He’s managed people including in union shops. As you will see from his LinkedIn profile:, he has great versatility. He has a degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stout, and ideally would like to be situated in the U.S. Midwest, although he is flexible and will move where he is needed.

WAIT, I know in all likelihood you are in Canada or not in Brian’s industry or area of expertise and you think you can’t help, but you can. Keep reading.

LinkedIn is a global phenomenon. You likely know someone who is in a position to help with connections, and it should take about four minutes of your time on LinkedIn to participate. Here is what you need to do:

1. If you haven’t already, connect with me on LinkedIn and tell me you’re participating. Please note that as a practice, I don’t accept connections of people I have never met, so you need to tell me that you are requesting the connection after reading this blog. You can type something like, “I read your blog, and I want to connect and assist Brian”.

2. Go to LinkedIn and do a people search on two different topics: “Printing” and “Packaging” industries. See if you have any first or second degree connections. If you do, look to see if any of them have any connections to leader-level decision makers or human resources professionals in these industries in the U.S. The right person may also be a search professional who focuses in on printing or packaged goods or staffing senior plant positions. A good connection could be another Plant Manager, and Owner, a Finance or Sales Executive. If you have connections, then click on Brian’s profile and select the feature “Forward this profile to a colleague” and send the profile to your connection. In the message, type this or something similar:

“One of my colleagues speaks really highly of Brian Oughton and has asked me to help circulate his profile to those in his industry. He has more than 20 years of experience in great companies in the printing and packaging industries. He is looking for a leadership position at a plant level in procurement, quality or operations. If you are aware of an opportunity that may be suitable, please feel free to connect with Brian directly or forward it on as appropriate. Even if the hiring thought is only preliminary, it is my understanding that Brian is happy to discuss further.”

Or for 2nd degree connections,” I am assisting a colleague by perusing my LinkedIn connections in the Printing and Packaging industries and your name came up as a connection to (their first degree connection). I am forwarding the profile of Brian Oughton for your consideration. He is open to connecting on LinkedIn. I can help to connect you to my colleague if appropriate”.

3. Bring up Brian Oughton’s LinkedIn profile and request to contact him through me. Since you don’t know him yet, it would not be appropriate to connect directly. In the message, type this or something similar:

I am a colleague of Bonni Titgemeyer, and I understand that she is trying to assist you with your job search. I just wanted you to know that I have followed the process she has set out and I have forwarded your profile to some colleagues of mine who may be interested OR, I wanted you to know that I had no direct connections that could help you but that I had done the search anyway. OR you sound like an interesting person and I would like to connect with you. Maybe we can help each other.”

You can add whatever you like to the message, including asking questions that may help you to help him. If you can, tell him who you sent his profile to, or offer suggestions on direct introductions. Ultimately, it is my hope that you will connect with Brian, you will find things in common, and that the connection will be mutually beneficial. Who knows, good connections are as much about the informal as the formal, and maybe you have relatives in the same city, or have been to the same rock concert, or restaurant, or you have other similar interests. You may find an ally you didn’t know existed.

He promises to respond to anyone who contacts him. If you’re someone who might have off-line connections, you can ask him to send you his resume via e-mail.

4. If you work in the printing and/or packaging industries, and you have a U.S. office, please forward his resume to your U.S. connections.

5. If you are a Twitter user, send out the following Tweet– I read the “4 Life-Changing Minutes” blog at by @BonniToronto & I LinkedIn #recruiting

6. Tell anyone else you know that is savvy on LinkedIn to read this blog.

Note, you can always spend more time than this, but I wanted to be respectful by not making too many steps.

As someone who is involved with social media, I’ve come to understand that its true value is a function of its ability to allow people to provide random acts of kindness to others. For those of you who have participated in this experiment, thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I hope that either I or one of my connections can someday bestow an act of kindness on you. More specifically, I hope that this blog has give you some suggestions that may help you with your own quest for whatever it is that will bring you fulfillment.

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