THE ART OF BUSINESS AND SOCIAL NETWORKING

In the age of social media, getting “connected” is easier than ever. But what about connecting live — in a roomful of strangers?

This blog post is about talking to people you don’t know — about striking up a conversation with a stranger — like at a new job, a cocktail party or a business function. This one challenges us with “How do I get started?”, “What do I say first?”, “What would make a positive impression?”

So let’s explore what gets us scared and look at some new approaches that can smooth the way.

Here’s the scene: You’re going to a cocktail party relating to your business or profession and you want to connect. You walk into a room filled with people who know each other and you don’t. (The principles we’ll talk about are the same whether it’s social or otherwise).

Feeling different, left out, a little lost, you’re nervous about being awkward, pushy, sounding —- or being accepted. That’s the first obstacle. And here’s Principle 1: Accept your feelings! They’re natural, common to us all! Don’t fight them and lecture yourself. Just think, “Nervous? Sure. That’s OK. Now —”

Principle 2: Take a breath and Make A Move! Nothing will happen if you just stand there. You’re looking at people – motivated by the same systems you are. We all like to be noticed, made to feel important, selected, and yes— even asked for a little help! Makes us feel powerful, wise and useful. SO—walk up to whoever looks appealing to you and disarm them by telling the truth (a surprise to most everybody).

“Hello—I’m —– (name) , a stranger here, feeling a little outside of things. I don’t know anyone but I would surely like to. How are you connected to this organization?” There’s the secret! ASK A QUESTION. Why? You’ve given them all kinds of power— asked about their expertise, raised their status, showed interest in them and gotten them to talk to you. Connection!

Principle 3: Listen for clues! What they tell you presents hooks for how you can enter into their conversation and make your own little dent. Connect to what they say— find where you can fit into their statement. DON’T go off onto the wonders of you or try to top them. That’s threatening and too self-serving. You’re there to make a link or a friend. Let them lead—you’ll get your chance, I promise.

Bottom line: Rely on the things you know you’d like when you’re reaching out to others. No airs, no acting, no trite, clever little openers. Be honest. Open. Authentic. It disarms and surprises folks. And it makes you recognizable. Being yourself will give you the courage to step forward and start.

So- take a breath and just do it!

Presenting Yourself Face to Face

As I enter into the blogosphere, I want to be extremely practical and useful. To write about something that both helps everyone become more effective and secure in their work and also brings some new information about that most powerful weapon—communicating. And is it ever a problem to many people—and now more than ever! So this blog is dedicated to that. Please join the conversation—let’s be honest about the problems you’re having, communicating-whether at work, at home or in relationships.

Here’s step 1.

Want to sell a product, an idea, a skill or you yourself? It can never happen electronically! No matter what, people finally want to hear it and experience it from you –live, in person. And here’s the problem: It’s really hard to holding people’s attention any more.  No one’s listening any more. They’re distracted, checking their blackberrys, their IMs, tweets, and sharing their mind-space is really hard.

SO–whether you’re talking to a client, an employee, a co- worker or  a supervisor, the old forms of communication – talking and listening – are becoming obsolete. Our new technologies- instant messaging, blogging, tweeting, facebooking—these are all about seeing information, not hearing it. We’re used to looking at, not listening to information.

But  one thing  hasn’t changed.

None of this has the impact of a face-to face presentation and encounter.

Fine. But now you know that our electronic short-circuit to selling and presenting yourself, makes doing it in person much harder. What can you do now to get and keep anyone’s attention face-to-face? What can make you a great live communicator these days?

To get and hold the attention of the person(s) you’re talking, here’s the secret:  focus on them and what they need, want, like, care about— not all about what you need—when you talk to them…

Great communicating is all about your audience—not you.

People are motivated by their own self-interest, first and foremost. So the sooner you can hook your message into what they want, like or  are worried about, what solutions can theyuse —the sooner you hook them into your message!!

You need to figure out what your audience wants and deliver that because the key question your audience will ask is “What’s in it for me? Why should I listen?”

And you must become not only more knowledgeable but also more  flexible and able to adapt your conversational style to your audience. Being aware of these changes can help you anticipate people’s needs, and make you and your message really effective, wherever you want it to make a difference.

So—I’m looking forward to hearing from you. What are you issues? Where do you get stuck? Who’s not listening to you???