Cathie Anderson: Free Dale Carnegie course precedes Networking Nexus

Published: Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012 - 1:22 pm

Intel Corp., Otto Construction, The Niello Co. and other big local companies pay Robert Scherer thousands of dollars to train top managers in leadership, communication, teamwork and other skills.

You can get some of his tips for free.

Scherer, owner of the local Dale Carnegie Training franchise, will explain how to wow business contacts during a one-hour session Nov. 8 at the Sacramento Convention Center.

His course, which starts at 3:30 p.m., is the opener to Networking Nexus, a speed networking event where participants try to make a meaningful impression in 90 seconds.

"The best thing to do is to have a statement … 40 seconds or less, and then ask questions of the person," Scherer said. "It's not how much you talk. It's the quality of the questions that you ask that gets someone interested in you."

Other advice: Arrive early. Talk with strangers. Keep at it until you find what works. And, don't oversell.

"If you're … doing all the talking, people will be pleasant or nice to you, but they're going to be backing away from you," he said.

Networking Nexus organizers hope to break the Guinness record for attendance at a business speed-networking event. A Toronto event in May drew 348. Register for event, which runs 5-7:30 p.m., at www.networkingnexus.

She's the closer

Allison Otto, 37, recently joined the ranks of top management at her family's 65-year-old construction company, Otto Construction. She's vice president for business development.

"We are a family-based business, home-grown here in Sacramento," Otto told me. "And whatever kind of project you'd like to build, from the small renovation to a big hospital building downtown, we base our service on quality and customer service.

"Currently, we are doing a small outdoor classroom at Soil Born Farms in Rancho Cordova … On the other end, we just finished a $180 million hospital down in Monterey."

Otto uses this statement to pique the interest of potential clients and inspire questions about Otto's $100 million-a-year business. The statement isn't something she came up with alone.

"She's a Dale Carnegie grad," Robert Scherer said. That means she made presentation after presentation in classes until she hit upon phrases that felt natural and sparked people's interest.

She'll have plenty of opportunity to practice now that Otto CEO Mike Feuz is asking her to find deals and close them.

"No pressure!" said Otto, with a laugh.

Steam is building for rice

The rice harvest is running a couple of weeks late up and down the Sacramento Valley, but delays aren't all bad.

Certainly, no one likes the idea of paying contract workers to do something other than harvest or, equally unappealing, sending them home for a few days, said Steve Butler, who farms 4,000 acres of rice in Sutter County.

But, he explained, a normal harvest can cause other logjams as warehouses get overloaded with rice that needs to be dried.

"A lot of times, the warehouses or dryers are hoping for a rain-out because it gives them a chance to get caught up," Butler said. "Otherwise, they sometimes put growers on a quota, 'You can only bring me 10 loads today, Steve, because we just have too much rice to process right now.' And I might have the mechanical capacity to harvest 15 loads."

This year's delays began last spring when heavy rains prevented planting. A couple of recent rains caused further backups.

At Butler's Sutter Basin Corp., 80 percent of his medium-grain Calrose rice is harvested. He owns a dryer and tries to harvest when moisture levels in kernels drop to 20 percent or so. That's when rice is lighter, meaning less natural gas is needed for drying the rice and shipping costs are lower.

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