Aside from feeling a little bit like a stalker, the Mentor-Me-Meg mission is off to a great start. It began with this post explaining my quest for connecting with Meg Whitman
, CEO of Ebay. After I posted about the mentoring mission, I enthusiastically charged ahead with some of the steps I had outlined in hopes of quickly reaching my goal.
Here is a list of what I have accomplished thus far:
1) Linked In
. I have had a LinkedIn account for awhile now but never really had the opportunity to use it for anything useful. I have a paltry 37 contacts and rarely visit the website. Luckily for me, of my 37 contacts, about 7 of them have in the hundreds of contacts so that increases my broader linked in network. I show as having 7100 contacts that are two degrees away and over 1,000,000 that are three degrees away. Surely someone in this group must be well connected to Meg!
I used the LinkedIn search and looked directly for Meg Whitman. No luck. I found Meg Whitman-Gorham, an analyst at State Street Financial Services. Ms. Whitman-Gorham is not the Meg Whitman that I am looking for (though maybe she is a relation?). The search also returned the names of people who mentioned Meg Whitman in their profiles. One of them, Joanne Gordon, is a Human Resources Manager at Ebay. Now we are talking my lingo! I clicked on Joanne and found that she was 3 degrees away from me. That meant that one of my connections knew one of her connections. Not a very clear or close path but being an optimist, I decided to give a try. I had 5 different people to choose from in my network who are connected to one of Joanne's connections. I selected Craig Weller
, a Human Resources professional with ADP that I am acquainted with via SHRM
and Nobscot's HR Forum
. I clicked on the appropriate link and sent a note to Craig and a note to Joanne on why I would like to connect with her.
Craig was quick to forward on my request to Joanne's connection but so far I have not heard anything more. I'm not really sure from looking at LinkedIn if my note got stalled at Joanne's connection or if made it to Joanne and she is not interested in responding or helping me with my quest. I am still hopeful that I might hear from Joanne.
. A few days before the Mentor-Me-Meg mission began, I had registered on Facebook. My interest there was purely out of curiosity and I had no plans of trying to connect with friends or utilize any of the features. With the mentoring mission underway, though, it seemed worth a shot. I quickly logged into my account and did a search for Meg Whitman. The search returned 21 names. Did you know that there are 18 Megan or Meghan Whitmans on Facebook? And there on page 2 was Meg Whitman with a picture of her speaking at an Ebay event. Could it really be this easy?
I had no idea how to use Facebook so I just made my best guess. I had the choice to "Send Message" or to "Poke Her!" I didn't know what "poke her" meant and since I was already feeling like a stalker I thought I better stay away from that option. Instead I wrote a nice letter to Meg. In the subject line I wrote: Mentoring. The first paragraph of the letter was as follows:
I am the CEO & President of a small, online HR software company, Nobscot Corporation. I am seeking a professional mentor and I can't think of anyone I would rather have for that role than you.
I went on to explain how I have admired her business acumen and I provided a little background on my company. I closed with letting her know that I would be honored to have her as a mentor to brainstorm with, discuss new ideas, challenges, et cetera.
Off the note went, somewhere into the Facebook database. I have checked my Facebook Inbox diligently but it remains empty. It occurred to me that there is no way to know for sure if Meg Whitman actually created that Facebook profile or if someone was playing a prank. Would Meg Whitman take the time to post a photo of herself? And the photo itself was more than likely a publicly available photo. Hmmmmm.......
3) Nobscot Forums
. My last attempt to date was posting about the mission on Nobscot's Human Resource Forum. This is a forum of Human Resource professionals used primarily for social networking. (Note: by social networking I mean the old definition of people hanging out together and discussing non-work related items not the new definition which defines a certain type of web 2.0 tool.) I am the Administrator of this forum and spend a good bit of time there socializing with my online HR friends.
I posted a thread in the forum titled: Who Knows Meg?
After many jokes poking fun at me from the regular posters, one of the infrequent posters spoke up. She works at Paypal in the Omaha office. WOW! She posted about how she has heard "absolutely amazing" things about Meg. She said that she is very highly regarded within the company and is "incredibly down to earth." It was great to hear that as I was curious if the internal persona was similar to the external persona. Oftentimes we think an executive is terrific only to find out that the people who work with the person can't stand him or her. On the downside, though, the Paypal poster did not have any close connections with Meg herself.
So that is where things stand to date. I remain optimistic and will continue forward with the mission. In the week ahead, I will try some of the off-line, old-fashioned methods of connecting such as sending a letter via snail (postal) mail and a phone call. If anyone has any other suggestions for connecting, please post comments or email me. I will report back next week with another update.
Beth N. Carvin
CEO & President