Networking is a word you hear often in business. It is defined as interaction with other people to exchange information and develop contacts to further one’s institution or career. In today’s world, LinkedIn is the most well-known professional networking tool that is utilized by over 467 million users worldwide. Networking allows you to brand yourself, create connections, build relationships, increase your business opportunities, and share knowledge and ideas.
Well before social networking technology became fashionable, a renowned Public Relations professional named Carl Terzian created a nexus in Los Angeles. In fact, today’s networking might well have been modelled on the gentleman, named Carl Terzian. As a business man, he successfully provided public relations counsel to over 5,000 for-profit and non-profit organizations. He received accolades from Her Majesty the Queen of England, the U.S. Congress, the California Senate and Assembly, the City and County of Los Angeles, and numerous other institutions. Most importantly however, Carl Terzian understood the value of relationships and thrived on every relationship he would say he was fortunate enough to be blessed with.
Mr. Terzian was not only an exemplary individual, who epitomized grace, intelligence and humor but he was special because he created a platform for others to be successful. Recognizing that in L.A., “your greatest asset is who you know”, he started the networking system that became known as The Terzian Tables. These gatherings, were free events, by referral and invitation only from Mr Terzian’s 10,000+ rolodex of contacts, intended to bring high caliber people together, face-to-face. The model for these events was for one of his clients to sponsor and in exchange present their organization at the event, that took place at a high-end location around the city (Hotel or Private Club). Mr. Terzian would hand-select the guest list, often spending substantial time in pairing the people with the client and the fit of the group; the guests would come armed with only their business cards. The Terzian designed process included personalized introductions, by Carl himself which included a personal anecdote or reference about each guest. The guest would then present in 1-2 minutes the “front” and “back” of their cards – “back” being the voluntary or private sphere of influence in which they contributed, and which gave their lives meaning. These events averaged 800 a year and became “business matchmaking, but sometimes just matchmaking”. It would not be unusual to hear Carl say, something such as: “we just had our 38th marriage and about $2 billion in business is done around our tables every year”.
Carl was well known for his dedication not only to business but as a leader with an immense respect for non-profit causes. He cherished his active role in making non-profits successful through guiding, coaching and mentoring boards and executive directors. I can still hear his voice, urging his networking attendees to use the networking process as it was intended, by taking the time to follow up with each other. In fact, according to his children, Charlotte and Jim, Carl Terzian was well known for always saying time and again: ” Share the Back of the Card, Follow Up and Follow Through, Give Back”
One Executive Director attendee mentioned not only the exceptional work that Carl did in guiding her to bring success to her non-profit and many others, but also the personal imprint Carl had made and explains: “ Carl was also a friend and mentor to me. He advised and guided me many times in my work. And with all that, the thing I remember with the most fondness were the handwritten birthday notes I received from him every year. He never missed and he always touched me with his compassion, caring and commitment to me and the nonprofit sector”.
Sadly, Mr. Terzian passed away in March 2016, leaving a gaping hole and a tragic loss for the Los Angeles business community and the non-profit world. A colleague once described him as someone with a radiant personality, a brilliant mind, a memory second to none, and a wit as dry as the sherry he enjoyed. One can only wish he had set up succession planning.
Succession planning is the process of identifying employees who have the current skillset or a potential skill-set, necessary for business continuity. Successors have the potential skills to be developed into the replacement for organizational leadership. The goal is to ensure continuity in practice when leaders move on. Mr. Terzian’ s legacy in his personal connections and business is sure to live on and his memory will live in many of our hearts for eternity. If we had only one wish, I believe it would be that we could continue to benefit from this remarkable framework Mr Terzian created. It is unclear as to whether Carl has identified people to continue his unequaled work of bringing people together. Many of us will not only cherish the gift he gave Los Angeles and the influence he had on our communities, but also the many lives he personally touched, the introductions he afforded us and the friend he became to so many, during his illustrious career.
May his wonderful soul rest in peace – we salute you, Mr Carl Terzian and we know you are chuckling down on us, wearing one of your signature, dapper suits and that sparkle in your eye!
By A Grateful Group of Terzian Table Attendees, via Belinda Morris of Peoplescape Consulting Group