Fewer Than Six Degrees of Wenda Harris Millard

How Marketing's Indefatigable Networker Got Superconnected

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- If you don't know Wenda Harris Millard, you're not in marketing.

Ms. Millard, a former chief sales officer at Yahoo named co-CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia in June, is as well-known for her diverse group of contacts -- and omnipresence at events -- as she is for the breadth of her career. Last week she jumped to Media Link, a consultancy founded by former Western Media exec and man about town Michael Kassan.


How Wenda Harris Millard knows you and your uncle
Media Link is just one in a list of high-profile posts earned in part by prodigious networking. Her friends and mentors include current Hearst President Cathie Black,* who was Ms. Millard's boss at New York magazine in the '80s, and David Bell, former CEO of Interpublic, who persuaded her to join DoubleClick in the early days of the internet. In fact, a case might be made -- with apologies to Kevin Bacon -- that far fewer than six degrees of separation exist between her and many in the industry.

In fact, the joke going around media circles was that if there's one person whose industry network could rival Mr. Kassan's, it's Ms. Millard's. Perhaps another relatively ubiquitous marketing exec, Deep Focus CEO Ian Schafer, put it best when he tweeted: "Between she and Michael Kassan, they officially own your Rolodex."

Millard's tips for getting to know just about everyone

ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS. Ms. Millard credits her college and post-college days as a writer/editor with teaching her that asking lots of questions is a great way to learn. (Oh, it also lets people talk about themselves -- something they generally like to do.)

JOIN THE ASSOCIATIONS -- AND THE COMMITTEES. While many of Ms. Millard's contemporaries spent years working their way up the ladder to meet the lions of advertising, Ms. Millard joined the Ad Club of New York and then jumped into the committees chaired by execs she wanted to meet, such as Lou Schultz and David Bell, which gave her an opportunity to get to know them. "I learned early on that getting involved in organizations was a good way to understand an industry's landscape."

DON'T JUST GO TO EVENTS; CREATE YOUR OWN. At Yahoo, Ms. Millard and her East-region deputy, Beth Lawrence, noticed there were many women in high-level marketing jobs but not enough opportunities for them to really get to know each other. So they launched "Insparation" getaways at the Ritz-Carlton in Key Biscayne, Fla., where women such as Kim Kadlec of Johnson & Johnson and Ruby Anik, then of Best Buy, would gather to become personal and professional friends.

RESEARCH THE CROWD. Ms. Millard acknowledges she's off-the-charts gregarious. But for those who aren't, she suggests finding out who is going to be at an event, figuring out who you want to meet and then finding the person and telling them that. Recently, she said, she was at an event and saw Steve Brill, who is launching a new journalism venture. "I recognized his face and looked at his name tag and went up and said, 'Hi, I'm Wenda Millard, and I'm fascinated by your new venture.'"

BE IN THE RIGHT SPOT. A favorite party and event trick is literally putting yourself in the position to meet people, said Ms. Millard. "Stand by the door and you'll naturally meet everyone that walks through." One night, she recalled, she was standing by the door at an event and everyone, assuming she was a sponsor, thanked her. But it was AOL, not Yahoo (her employer at the time), that was sponsoring the event.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Ms. Black the former president of Hearst.

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