Posts Tagged ‘ Networking ’

In Communicado

Hey All!  I hope that your weekend has been relaxing, and your upcoming week will be moving along splendidly.  Mine is shaping up to be interesting, to say the least.  Lately, I have been back in the rhythm of learning and doing new things on a fairly regular basis, and it feels fantastic!

One end for talking, the other for LISTENING.

This week, I got an email from Chris Brogan like I usually do on Sunday mornings, and its focus was on something that I continually strive to be better at:  Communication.  You may remember that I shamelessly plugged Chris’ company (Human Business Works) once before, and as before, I am not being paid in any fashion to promote his products.  The guy just puts amazing content into my email box for free, and I wanted you to know.  This is an example of great stuff spreading by word of mouth.

This morning’s newsletter talked about communication in a very interesting way.  Actually, the message of this morning’s “discussion,” as it were, was more along the lines of, “If you share/repost/reblog someone’s stuff, give them credit for it because it’s the awesome thing to do,” but here’s what I took from it:

This guy  puts some great content on Twitter (a site I rarely use to post 147 characters of useless information about my lunch), and Chris linked to it.  I clicked, and found something really interesting–which is the focus of my own message today.

As I read down the list of his Ten Commandments Of Conversation, I couldn’t help but nod my head.  I cannot tell you how many folks I come across whose ultimate goal is to convince me of a particular political idea, or complain about something, or dream out loud about things they may or may not ever do, or tell me every last detail of the way their first love ended, even if it was twenty years ago.  I used to think that everyone found what I had to say interesting, until I began to realize that if I’m talking to someone and thinking about other things, they must have been thinking that about some of the things I was saying to them.  In fact, I’ll never forget once when I was in college, I was catching up with my brother one night on the phone, and he cut me off with a, “Dude, get to the point.”

The truth is that when you communicate with someone, it would be helpful to imagine that you can only communicate your message to that person in writing.  Can you imagine how long a rant of yours would take to literally write out on a piece of paper?  You wouldn’t bother.  You’ll sit there and ponder for a second what your message really is, so that you can get it down on paper in (something close to) the least amount of words it will take you to.  Speak as if you were writing, and you will train yourself to hone the message you are trying to convey down to the simplest, most essential points.

You may feel it, but resist it. Smile the whole time. It goes a looooong way!

Combine this technique with the other Commandments (by using your one mouth half as much as your two ears) and people will walk away from a conversation with you with fond memories in their head, and not even give it a thought as to why.  I’ve had people talk “at” me for upwards of 45 minutes, and the entire time, I am the one coaching the conversation along.  I’ll ask pointed questions, get them to tell me about the things that matter most to them–family, home life, pets, jobs, egos, goals, how they’re getting ahead…I’m telling you, some of these folks greet me very fondly on a regular basis, and they don’t know hardly a thing about me.  Why?  For no other reason than they haven’t taken the time to ask.

It feels great when someone wants to know things about you, doesn’t it?  Well, if your goal is to help those around you to be more comfortable in your presence, just ask questionsand actually listen to the answers.  Remember them for future reference.  In fact, if you really want to get crazy with it, you can do what Bill Clinton (one of the best networkers of our time) did and keep track of those you meet.  It doesn’t even matter if this person bores you to no end–if their only interaction with you induces happy chemicals in their head, they will remember you fondly when they get promoted from newbie desk jockey to branch manager.  Whether you know it or not, you guide every person, every day into the place in your life that you want them.  If you want to get ahead, guide those people into a place that makes them feel great about you.  The rest will work itself out.

The point is that everyone you meet is judging you.  Your face, your body, your clothes, your breath, your skills…they are making judgments on every single little signal that comes through when you communicate with them.  Your job is to convince them that you are worth every second of their time (and you are.)  It’s ironic that the easiest way to do that is to get them talking about themselves, but ignore the irony and focus on the fact that it works.  You’ll be happy that you did.

So…who’s got troubles with those around you?  Caustic people?  The guy with terrible breath?  The guy/gal who wears things to work that no one has any business wearing to work?  The person who dominates every conversation?  The condescending/micromanaging/unconfident/overly-involved-in-your-personal-life/lackadaisical boss?  If you’d like an opinion on how to handle certain people, I’m sure anyone reading here will be happy to help.  We only want the best for you, so if you need a hand with a certain situation, feel free to comment here.  The advice may (or may not) be backed up by PhD graduates, but either way, it’s free!

Here’s to a great week!

Humble Pie Tastes Like Beer!

Yesterday evening, I more or less “hosted” the first “official” Happy Hour event for a LinkedIn group I’m part of here in VA (if you aren’t a part of LinkedIn by now, you are either behind the times, or foolish–just my humble opinion). The main reason I did the “hosting” is because I happened to be the one who stepped up and said, “Let’s make this group work for us!” and all I did was set up a date, time, and place for the meeting to happen.  After all, I figure there isn’t much purpose in wasting time setting up a profile on a website if you aren’t going to make use of the contacts you can meet through it.  I figured that if I could loosely facilitate some relatively impromptu networking, it would put me in a better position to be that guy who puts people together who need each other.  That’s my ultimate goal, I guess–when two people don’t know each other but for because of you, and a friendship or some business referrals come out of it, it’s a happy day for everyone.  I like to be the guy who introduces people to each other.

So anyway–all day, I worked at my job, the same way everyone else does, and all day, all I could think about was this event that was to take place tonight–right after work, in fact.  If one could’ve listened to my internal monologue over the course of the first hour or so, it would’ve sounded something like this:

“Hey, what do I care if no one shows up?  It’s Happy Hour–I get to sit around and drink beer regardless.”

“Hmmm…maybe I should’ve prepared a speech or something for this?  Nah, that’s silly…no one will come to hear a guy give a speech at happy hour.  Do yourself a favor and keep everything short and sweet.  And sit up straighter.”

“Man…it’s been about half an hour and no one is here…It’s okay, I’m cool with it…but if I really was, would I have to tell myself I am?  I guess I’ll sit with my hands folded…no wait, that’s too proper…don’t slouch, it makes you look submissive…but it looks weird if I just sit with them both on the table like this…here, I’ll put out a few business cards arranged in a fan pattern so it’s obvious I’m not here waiting on a girl or something…the server just gave me a funny look about the cards, what was that about?…maybe if I face this way, toward the door, people will see me…well of course they’ll see you, you told the host guy at the front to point people in your direction.  Stop slouching!

“So for next time, I guess I’ll try a Friday night, or maybe something a little more structured, or maybe I’ll put more effort into hyping it more…or maybe I should– “Actually, yes I am with the LinkedIn thing.  Thanks for coming!  What’s your name?”

And then it happened.  The first–and only–person to come up and greet me last night was a gentleman (we’ll call him Jim) who I found to be a perfect example of the type of people I was hoping to meet at this event.  I have a couple of very close friends (and many great acquaintances) who I’ve met at these meetings because I tend to connect well with people who have a “How can I help you?” mentality rather than a “How can you help me?” one–and Jim was definitely the latter.  I enjoyed his company (and found the Martzen at this brewery to be fantastic), and we called it an evening around eight o’clock.
Humble Pie Should At Least Taste Good!

Despite “only” one person coming, I think it was a success if for no other reason than the fact that I got a lot of great, hard data to draw from the next time I try to organize one of these things.  I learned some lessons about the crowd in this area of the country, and about timing, and even managed to test my own confidence (and succeed).  I really have always been confident enough to go to dinner by myself, but I’ve never been left alone at my house on Party Night.  I guess that’s why all of the Greats say that humility is a virtue worth embracing.  Who wants some pie?

The Little Black Book Of Connections

I’m sure Jeffrey Gitomer will appreciate the free advertising he’s getting for this book…but I operate my life on most of the same principles as he (says he) does, so I don’t mind spreading the word.

I just finished a book with the same name as the title of this post, and it really hit home on a lot of things for me–particularly in this confusing time of new undertakings for me.  I’ve never filled out a financial statement for a business before, and I’ve never had to get into the tactics and techniques of smart marketing.  Sometimes I feel like I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this project, but I do have an idea how to get there, at least.  I’m taking the advice that Gitomer puts forth in his book to heart, and I figure that if he’s telling us what worked for him, it should work for us, too–right?

That’s probably true in its obviously-too-simple form, but one thing he says seems to be a universal truth:  If you bring value to others before you expect them to give value to you, they will eventually give it back tenfold.   Personally, I’ve been racking my brain trying to find opportunities to bring value to the most valuable contacts I have–people who have offered advice time and time again, who are mentoring me on this path I’m on–I feel like I haven’t got many options to bring them value other than to do what I do, if they own an airplane.  (None of them do, so far.)  I know that it’s the personal touch that gets through the noise, but I haven’t found much personal information about most of these folks yet.  It’s maddening, feeling like I’m under-prepared to be in the same circles and the same company as the rest of these professionals.  Feeling like the “New Guy” again, feeling “fresh out of school.”  I know it’ll get better, as time goes on, but for right now, this phase in my development pretty much stinks in that respect.

I hope you are well, and thanks for reading!

Heard.

Our LinkedIn group met once again, and I came in prepared with a vengeance! I definitely learned my lesson from last time– I felt great, looked like the man I wanted to put forth as a first impression, was prepared to jot notes and tips and give out business cards, and it was a great meeting overall.  I’m the “newbie” at the table, since I’m not running a business of my own yet, but there’s a woman I met named Sherri who has been wonderfully helpful in pointing me in the right direction.  Last night (with Alli’s help, of course) I chose a logo and picked a name for my corporation.  It sounds hollow saying the name of my brand, partly because it’s like a new style of clothes the first time you try them on (does this fit well?  Is it something I feel comfortable in? What will people think?), and partly because I know that I’m the only employee, and calling myself the “Owner” or “CEO” of Jeffro Enterprises seems deceitful, since I’m not running a business (yet) outside of the title.  Even the name feels foreign for some reason or another.  I wonder if Donald Trump felt this way when he created The Trump Organization and was the only employee in it back in the ’70s.  I suppose it’ll grow on me with repetition, the longer I have the name, and the more I use it.

The more I am able to hang around these business-owner types, the more I’m becoming able to develop an eye for niches that need filling in the market.  It’s so fascinating!  It’s like the first time you were able to make your eyes see those Magic Eye puzzles–once you know the trick, you can see the pictures just jump right out at you off a flat surface!

In any case, I am growing more and more excited about my path, as I meet more and more people.  I am hoping that it won’t be long now before I can cultivate an idea far enough into action to make it a reality.  I really feel like I’m just getting started.

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