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Not Your Natural Net-worker?

January 1, 2019 | By | No Comments

What could better start for your 2019 working life than expanding your network?

Whether you work for a big corporation, your local authority or are CEO of your own mini empire there is much to be gained from a professional mingle. Whilst LinkedIn allows us to virtually connect, nothing tops real-life handshakes and conversations which behind a screen, can stagnate, ignored in message box. If you are face to face with your correspondent, drink in hand, nodding to acknowledge receipt of their wisdom, you are much more likely to get an instance response to a question. Moreover, if you have taken the time to research your correspondent’s background, their likes, interests and current status, you can also create an environment where your opposite number will remember you over others.

What is going to make you memorable at an event? (In a good way, we’re not talking tripping out of the toilets or singing ‘My Way’ after too much alcohol)

1. Some people are very comfortable in networking environments and thrive on the buzz of having to professionally befriend a roomful of strangers. Others are horrified by it. Most are somewhere in the middle. Our advice is to be authentic, relaxed and true to yourself. You can always tell if someone is putting on an act. You know when you are around someone doing this, you don’t feel entirely comfortable around them. So don’t be one of them. Smile! Smile as if you are in on a secret but one you are prepared to share with the right person.

2. Listen and look interested. We all want to share our stories but don’t be in a hurry. Be the person people remember because you looked the least desperate to ‘network’. When you do share your information, keep it to three key phrases – a strong intro sentence, explaining who you are and what you do, a summary sentence, explaining what you or your organisations aspirations and plans for the year ahead are. Perhaps a closing sentence as well, along the lines of what you are hoping to achieve from attending networking events. Make it memorable but succinct. And then listen to your contact’s information. Ask questions and if you’re genuinely interested in a connection take a business card. (If you think you might have any recall issues put notes into your phone to refer to when you follow up.)

3. Follow up! Keep the momentum going. If the relationship is going to be of benefit to your organisation or to that of another contact, send an email the next day. This shows real integrity to your connection, not only that you’re interested but that in business you can be relied on.

4. Know when it’s time to move on. Even if you are having a great time and the conversation and laughter is flowing, it’s a little bit like a first date, keep it classy and ensure you are both allowing other’s access to you. It’s a professional event after all. It’s going well, it’s a sure sign you can reconnect again, just swap cards and follow up the next day.

5. Standing alone? Not sure how to get the conversation started? Networking events are about just that. Rarely do organisers let attendees stand alone but if you do find yourself adrift, assert yourself and introduce yourself. Usually, if you linger for a bit, you will get invited into a group that might have formed. Or politely interrupt a conversation and ask if you might possibly have the benefit of a conversation with either party when one or the other becomes free. This way you will at least secure a conversation at the earliest opportunity.

6. To re-cap, be yourself, be prepared (research if possible) keep if brief but interesting, be MORE interested in others. Follow up. Get involved, don’t stand on the sidelines!

Being Heard…

October 4, 2013 | By | No Comments

So, in order to be heard, do you have to shout the loudest?

http://leadershiplabinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/bigstock_Mega_Communication_Yelling_278545.jpgNo, in fact you are less likely to be listened to with any sort of respect or interest; unless of course you are shouting out threats in a public area, in which case people probably will listen and possibly even call 999. However, as first impressions go, that really is a wasted opportunity.

They key to being really listened to is, making your vocal output as alluring as possible. Of course, other factors certainly come in to play but the voice is a substantial cog in the machine of your performance. The pitch, the pace, the tone, the volume, the intonations and inflections are all like individual instruments which come together as the final orchestra. It’s worth considering how to improve yours.

In the last week I have had some interesting experiences with some of the people I have worked with ranging from junior school aged children to big, proper grown-ups. Helping people to project their voice, from a stage across a school hall, or a small conference centre is a vital part of people ‘owning’ their own volume switch. Some people have to use microphones when venues are huge but it’s still immeasurably beneficial to learn how to master your own vocal power.

One child in the group I worked with this week had no problem projecting. In fact when I instructed him to imagine someone sitting at the very back of the hall with poor hearing, he shouted the first line of his speech so loudly, he made everyone else jump out of their skin.

My reaction? ‘Brilliant *Billy, absolutely amazing power. Now, let’s imagine that person is a lot nearer, almost in the middle of the room this time.’ Nobody I teach/coach or work with is going to be criticised for giving it their all! (And anyway, until you try out your voice in a certain space, how are you to know how far it reaches?)

An adult woman I worked with had more difficulty projecting her voice. She was held back by her fear of sounding TOO loud. She was well spoken and had a warm, soft lilt to her voice. By nature she had many qualities I often have to encourage out of people. She spoke slowly and clearly enough that words didn’t get lost and her chosen points of emphasis and her pauses were spot on. I assured her, it was a voice people would enjoy listening to. She seemed surprised by this. I explained to her what I have explained above and assured her there was little work to in other areas, she just needed to take a deep breath, and make an attempt.

After some breathing and vocal exercises and a few demonstrations, she went for it. I stood at the back of the hall. The first few lines weren’t quite loud enough. I gestured my hands towards the ceiling and she raised the volume. I gave her the thumbs up and she positively beamed. She continued to read the rest of her speech and I watched her shoulders lift with confidence. All the positive aspects of her vocal output were simply highlighted and she had me engaged.

There’s no getting away from it, it’s scary giving a speech when you’re not practised at it but practise (and some support and guidance) will make it so much easier.

Goodbye 2012

January 1, 2013 | By | No Comments

Goodbye 2012. What a great year. I’ve worked with some fantastic people all over the country, some of whom I am already looking forward to working with again in 2013. I love my job and everyone I meet, (regardless of how reluctant they might initially be to participate!). Its great to see them grow in confidence before my eyes and it’s incredibly satisfying for me to see people surprised at how much progress they make. This year I’ve worked with huge groups of people, small groups and individuals.  

Public speaking can be terrifying, there’s no getting away from it but there are many tools and processes to make the whole experience exhilarating as opposed to nerve-wracking. I leave them wearing an invisible tool belt, carrying confidence, presentation skills and knowledge, instead of hammers, nails and screws.
From big businesses who ask me to work with their senior managers, to people who contact me wanting help to deliver a speech at a wedding, they all have the same end goal; to deliver a speech, clearly and with confidence. To keep their audience engaged and entertained as well as informed.
Sometimes I work with people who simply lack confidence in their day to day interactions and want help and practical solutions to overcome acute shyness and become someone with the confidence to strike up a conversation. I love it all and I cannot wait for 2013 and everything it has to offer.
I will be sharing hints/tips and stories about my working adventures during the year ahead so please visit every week for all the latest!
P.S. First rule when making a speech – (Keep breathing!)