Sunday, August 24, 2014

Networking Do's & Don't's Part 2

Years ago I attenuated a national convention that had a star studded cast of main speakers. Three times daily we were exposed to the best and the brightest that the human resource profession had to offer. In between speakers we attended break out sessions. One session caught my eye and I hurried down the hall to get a seat. Surely the room would be packed. The title:

Effective Listening: The Skill We Use the Most and Teach the Least. 

As I burst into the room looking for a seat I discovered there were only four of us attending the presentation. The room next to us was crammed. It's topic was "How to Use You Persuasion Skill's to Get What You Want."

The speaker wasn't surprised or alarmed. He said that his topic was often an after thought at these functions. They called him when they had a session to fill. I did learn two things I'd like to share with you today that I've found have increased my ability to effectively network with other people. 

Listening is the most effective form of communication.
When I listen, sincerely and intently, I am showing you a deep sign of respect, not only for the information you are sharing but for you as a human being. I acknowledge you as being valuable to me. I acknowledge and affirm your worth and value. 

Sincere and effective listening requires practice. Can you tell me what skill doesn't require practice? Most of the time when someone else is speaking we are fashioning our response to what they are saying. 

It is hard for me to listen. I was born with an over active enthusiasm gland. I mean no ill will when I trample all over what you are saying it is just that, well,sometimes I get so excited about agreeing with you or affirming you that I'm like the puppy who hasn't learned to make it to the door quite yet. (No Freudian issues here friends. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.)

I want to honor you and your information so my mechanism to stay on task is to take notes. I don't fill a binder up but I do jot don't words and phrases in bullet points. It keeps me focused. 

"Okay John, but what if I am at a live networking event with a beverage in one hand and a snack in the other hand? How do I take notes?"

Excellent question. (You are such an amazing audience!)

One of my mentor's/heroes Ms. Stella Orange taught me how to write copy for web pages, newsletters, etc. Her method speaks towards writing headlines, things that will grab your audiences attention. I use that skill  as a listening tool when jotting notes isn't an option. I listen for themes or headlines - Verbal bullet points, if  you will. When the person is done speaking I'l l say something like. "If I understood what you were saying......"

BTW: Here is Stella's Web Site if you want to look at her stuff:

Listen With Your Eyes
What your eyes see often has more impact on you than what your ears might hear, especially if the the two don't match.  I've learned a lot about people by listening with my eyes. I've watched their gestures, their facial expressions and their body language. There is a whole field of study NLP, neuro-linguistic programming, that identifies how we process and relate to each other and how we learn.If I pay close enough attention and observe I can communicate with you effectively in a manner that is conducive to YOU.

Isn't that the point of networking, regardless of the medium - To take the Law of Attraction and put it to use? 

My purpose, goal, call it what you will is To Help Good People Become Better" I can't do that until I make contact with those good, great people and listen actively and attentively to their needs. When I do listen, I honor them and what they stand for. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Networking Do's and Don'ts ---- Social and Otherwise

Don't you just hate them? You know, those people that show up at your networking events and suggest  that  their mission in life is to "help you." The next thing you know they are rolling out their cart full of products or services and suggest you and they can be even better friends once you make a purchase. They are human vacuum cleaners. They troll around the edges of a conversation and jump smack dab in the middle pushing everyone else aside and suck up the person talking.

"Me,me, me!" they'll shout. Loud, obnoxious and rude, they monopolize the conversation with what they believe is best for you. Never mind that you never told them what you need. They always know better.

"Let me tell ya what I'm gonna do..........." Sigh.

I attended a Google Business Hangout this morning hosted by James Fierce. The topic was how to network effectively, whether you are doing so live and in person or online. It's called a Team Talk I'd like to share and expand the points James made. They are worth sharing and repeating.

It's not about you!
Remember when you were a kid and someone, usually a parent suggested that you "Speak when you were spoken to?" If you want to impress people at a networking event dont talk about yourself until you are asked to do so. Don't hand out advice or offer to fix the issue at hand. Practice the skill we use most but are taught least.......... effective listening.

Ask a lot of questions. Everyone's favorite topic is themselves, their passions and their business. The easiest way to get to know me is to ask me about what I do. I'll be glad to tell you and when I'm done if you have any advice, any contacts I might make or directions I might travel........... well I'll become your very best friend.

I made a new contact this morning during the Business Hangout. The person had worked in the radio industry and I typed a question in the chat box asking what they did there? I asked what their new business was going to be.  Things took off from there. They are new to Google+ so after the Hangout concluded I gave them a few Google+ Communities they might check out and the names of some people who'd helped me out along the way. Later they sent me a link to their blog which was insightful and well written and believe it or not, I learned a few things. (I know hard to believe.)

Word of Mouth Marketing, The Shocking Truth and What to Do About It.

When you get an opportunity give it a read and give the author some feedback.

We concluded our conversation with them writing to me and saying: "And if there is anything I can do to help you, let me know."

It wasn't about me.

Don't Sell, Show & Tell
People love stories, especially stories that make a point. The late Zig Ziglar rode his story telling ability to success and fame by talking about the life and times of "Old Zig." When people ask you what you do paint a verbal picture for them. Tell them a story about your business and some of the people who benefited from your product or service. Practice the story. Make sure it lasts no longer than one minute and that when you are through talking your listener says "Tell me more."

Don't "lunge." Someone called me a few weeks back inquiring about using me as a life coach for a family member. As we talked they told me about the other businesses they owned and I immediately launched into my spiel on what great services I could provide them on top of my life coaching services. As soon as I finished I realized i'd made a huge mistake. I could tell they were turned off. Don't' Sell, Show & Tell.

Have Fun.
You are standing around, sipping a beverage, munching a taquito when all of a sudden Donnie or his sister Debbie Downer put in an appearance. They are passionate, intense and you begin to wonder if they've ever cracked a smile or let out with a huge belly laugh in their life.

I love what I do and I love what I do because what I do is fun, not only for me but for my clients.

There is a basic requirement for enjoying yourself, you need to be comfortable in your own skin. When we're confident in ourselves and what we have to offer people want to be with us because we're fun.

Thanks James Fierce for the food for thought. It is greatly appreciated.