It can be a great feeling when coming home from a networking event and looking at the stack of business cards you have collected. You even spoke at length to many of the card-donators. Some, it can be a little difficult to recall who they actually were. “Now was he the tall fellow with the bad hair piece …. or was he…?” You’ve probably experienced that scenario more than once. And you know what … perhaps some of the business people that you gave your precious business card to have been thinking something similar. Hopefully not about your bad hair though.
Have you ever wondered how close to stand to another person when conversing in a 1 to 1 at a business networking session? Okay, maybe I do have too much spare time as they say but I am sure that this is a question that many people have asked.
While I don’t have a definitive answer, I do have some thoughts on the matter. Many factors including gender, culture, trust, past experiences and self-confidence come into play.
Looking at it from a self-defence, self-preservation perspective, it is helpful to think of each of us having an invisible circle or a safety zone around us. As a preservation measure we tend to keep strangers outside of our safety zone and only let people we trust or are comfortable with into our comfort zone.
Does this sound familiar? You are at a business networking session and you are captivated by a speaker who wants to regale you with a litany of important people that they have supposedly recently spent time with. “Oh, the other day I had coffee with the Mayor …” “I was just saying the very same thing to my good friend XXX, you know that he owns half the town.” “Yeah, my best friend is the Crown Attorney and she was telling me …”
To coin a phrase … “blah, blah, blah, yaddey, yaddey, yaddey!”
If you are actively marketing and promoting yourself on-line as a part of your networking efforts the likelihood of encountering a cyber bully increases exponentially. It is simply a matter of numbers, the more people that you network with the higher the odds of encountering one.
Cyber bullying has featured prominently lately in the media with the unfortunate suicides of several teens in North America. As adults we aren’t immune to the same tactics that these bullies use.
So what is a “cyberbully”?
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia … Cyberbullyingis the use of the Internet and related technologies to harm other people, in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner.
Meeting somebody for the first time as in a networking situation can often leave you stuck for words. Your counterpart delivers their elevator pitch and then as they pause to catch their breath they utter “so what do you do?” You go on to deliver your well rehearsed pitch for your business. But did the two of you really communicate?
Communication is a two way process. While the other person is sharing their story, you need to be listening closely to them. This isn’t the time to be practicing your own story in your head. This is the time to listen. Imagine that there will be a test after your partner delivers their personal story. Besides trying to figure out what their business is about, you should be listening for statements or beliefs that are similar to yours. Perhaps you have had similar experiences as they have described.
You have done your research and decided upon a referral group that works for you. So now what? How do you get value out of your membership?
Strategy One: Develop your 30 second to one minute elevator pitch. Most groups will allow you that much time to promote yourself. Practice saying it out loud, even to family members or the family pet if they will listen. The intent is that you become comfortable saying it without getting nervous. This will go a long way in reducing the performance anxiety that often accompanies shyness.
Throughout my publications I have provided tips & techniques to help improve your networking effectiveness. I thought it would be interesting and perhaps entertaining to take a look at the subject from a different perspective i.e. what you really shouldn't do.
These aren't provided in any order of priority. See if you recognize any of them from your adventures in networking land.
A common anxiety-producing situation in a shy networker is when a third or more persons join the conversation and it falls upon them to introduce everyone.
Who do you introduce first? Do you use first and last names? Are you required to provide collateral information about each of the people that you introduce?
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Over the years of entrepreneurial pursuits I have learned the value of self-promotion. While I have learned that you can't control what anybody else writes about you, yes Trolls are still among us, you can make it easy for someone who really wants to learn more about you.
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