What Are Your Expectations When You Are Going To Events?

August 18, 2011

Many people in our workshops tell us that they don’t always feel comfortable when going to business events.

The main reason seems to be more about them than about the other participants.

These are some of the things they say to themselves:
– I’m probably not interesting enough.
– I’m not an expert so I don’t know enough to meaningfully contribute to a conversation.
– I don’t know any other people so other people will think I don’t belong here.
– I just graduated from college/university and don’t have enough experience yet so people won’t find me interesting to talk to.
– I’m not worthy of getting attention from other people.
– I’m an introvert so I lack social skills.

These are all judgments you have about yourself. 95% of the people you will meet, don’t think this way. The other 5% are probably not worth your time (and please don’t let them discourage you!)

The problem is that when you have these thoughts, the expectations you will have from attending an event will probably be low as well.

What the human mind does, is looking for confirmation of its thoughts.

So if your expectation is that nobody wants to talk to you (for whatever reason you have made up), you will look for the confirmation that they are not interested in you.

When someone looks briefly at you and then looks away, you might think they are not interested. The fact that they turn away makes you think they don’t want to talk to you.

However someone who expects that other people want to talk to him, will interpret this brief look as a sign of interest. He will notice the brief contact moment.

In other words: the way you expect things to happen will influence the results in a big way.

What do you expect when you go to events? That people will talk to you or not?

To your success !

Jan


Networking Skill: Listening – Stop Doing These Things

February 10, 2011

To finish my series of tips about listening as the most important networking skill, I would like to share some things to stop doing when listening to people.

  • Stop judging.
  • Stop talking! It is difficult to listen and speak at the same time.
  • Stop thinking you already know what’s going to be said.
  • Stop hanging on to your own opinion and your desire to be right.
  • Stop focusing on what you are going to say next.
  • Stop thinking that listening is the same as not talking.
  • Stop thinking that you can’t be a good listener.

I would like to conclude these tips about listening with a quote from Dale Carnegie:

“A professional networker is someone who attentively listens…
to a subject he knows everything about…
told by someone who knows nothing about it”.

To your success !

Jan

PS: this is an excerpt from my book “Let’s Connect!”. You can download a free light version of the networking book Let’s Connect in English (or het netwerk boek Let’s Connect in Dutch)


What to do at an Office Party

January 27, 2011

After having received many responses to last week blog post about what to expect from New Year’s receptions, I wanted to share with you a more fun look at office parties.

Look at this flowchart about what to do at an Office Party by Jeff Rosenberg on the CollegeHumor website.

Have fun !

Jan


What to Expect from New Year’s Receptions

January 20, 2011

January is typically the month of New Year’s receptions and other networking events.

Many people have the feeling that they don’t get the results they could get from them.

In the past I have already given many tips about making the most out of networking events like:

(+ look at the categories bar on the right hand side for more tips about networking at events).

In this post I would like to add that there is a difference between most New Year’s Receptions and other networking events.

Traditionally many New Year’s receptions attract a lot of people. If they are hosted by an organisation like a Chamber of Commerce there is also a variety of profiles, industries and backgrounds.

Many people who are in sales get frustrated with this since they don’t find many new customers. And that’s most of the time no wonder. The percentage of participants that has buying power (= they can make the decision to purchase a product or service) is very low. On top of that the percentage of participants who might be interested in your product or service is even lower. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack!

As a consequence a lot of sales people and business owners who attend our training courses then comment: “So I better not attend these events anymore?”

That might be a conclusion.

However I suggest to look at it from a different point of view.

In my opinion “general” networking events are good to stay in touch with your current network. Many times you can see a lot of people in a few hours time, which is a very efficient use of your time. The benefit of this is to stay top of mind.

If you want to find new customers, then I suggest you start from your goals and your target group and look for smaller networking events where they gather.

To your success !

Jan

PS: for more networking tips download a free light version of the networking book Let’s Connect in English (or het netwerk boek Let’s Connect in Dutch)


Best of the Blog 2010

January 6, 2011

In the beginning of this new year I would like to look back at 2010 by sharing the top blog posts of the past year. For your convenience I have divided them in four categories.

Category Networking Insights

Category Networking at Events

Category LinkedIn

Category Networking Tools

Enjoy !

Jan


Networking Skill: Listening – Actions Part 2

December 30, 2010

Last week I already shared some tips about what actions you can take when you really want to listen.

This week I offer you some more tips:

  • Look at the person you are listening to, don’t look at the people behind or next to him.
  • Avoid drawing your own conclusions. Always check them by saying “Am I correct in assuming that….”
  • Create a positive listening environment.
    • Ensure you get distracted as little as possible (by rumour of your colleagues or noise from the street).
    • Create an “empty space” between you and the other (step from behind your desk for example).
  • Let others tell you their own story first. When others explain their situations, they may reveal interesting facts and valuable clues that will aid you in helping them solve their problems or satisfy their needs. By letting them speak first, you also save time. When their interests are revealed you can tailor the rest of your discussion to their particular needs, goals, and objectives and you can avoid an inappropriate conversation.
  • Write important things down. Especially when you are at a networking event where you are going to meet several people, it is hard to remember everything. BUT only note keywords that help you remember the whole story. Don’t try to write everything down, because when you are writing you are only hearing parts of what the other person is saying! Find your own way of dealing with this, because it’s an important, but tough issue.
  • Find the emotion behind the words (vocal and visual messages) rather than the literal meaning of the words. Ask yourself these questions when another person is speaking:
    a. What are the other person’s feelings?
    b. What does he mean by what he is saying?
    c. What is his point of view?
    d. Why is he saying this?
    e. What is implied by what he says?
  • Listen for “keywords”. These are words that you have in common with the other person. Or more importantly, the words that you can use to match two people. If I hear that somebody is a Russian-French translator and I know of someone who needs someone to translate some documents with regard to exporting to Russia, then there might be a link. So the keywords that triggered me were “Russia” and “translator”.

My golden tip:

  • Count to three after the other person stopped talking and before you begin talking yourself. Often the other person continues to talk before you reached 3 and then the “most valuable information” is disclosed. Many times this is the moment where the real story comes to the surface. So if you can control your need to tell your own stories, this will be rewarded. Even if it’s not information that is useful to you, these are the moments where the relationship is strengthened.

To your success !

Jan

PS: this is an excerpt from my book “Let’s Connect!”. You can download a free light version of the networking book Let’s Connect in English (or het netwerk boek Let’s Connect in Dutch)


Networking Skill: Listening – Actions Part 1

December 23, 2010

The last weeks I have been sharing tips about the most important skill in networking: listening (the importance of listening, intention part 1 and part 2 and body language) .

Since I have received many reactions I will share some more tips in the next couple of weeks.

One of the questions I got, was: “I understand that listening is important, but what can I exactly DO?”

I have a lot of tips about that. In order not to overwhelm you with them I have split them into two parts. Below you will find the first part. Next week I will post the second part.

Listening Actions:

  • Give your full attention to what is said. Don’t let your thoughts wander off and don’t try to think about what you are going to say next.
  • Encourage the other person to tell you his story. Feel free to say: “Go on!”
  • Don’t interrupt the other person.
  • Listen to what is NOT being said. Pay attention to the body language of the other person. Find out if there is a “hidden question” in a story. A question that you can give an answer to.
  • React considerately and consciously instead of impulsively.
  • Have the other person talk more than you do yourself! Research has revealed that when we feel really good about a conversation we just had, we were talking 80% of the time or more. So if you want to be perceived as someone who is pleasant company, you don’t have to tell stories and jokes all the time. Just listen and let the other person talk most of the time!
  • Ask open questions: these are questions that begin with words like what, how, when, where,… Avoid closed questions that can be answered with yes or no. Asking open questions is the way to avoid this kind of conversation: “Hello, nice to meet you. Is this the first time you’re here?” “Yes” “Do you like it here?” “Yes” “Did you have troubles with traffic?” “No” and you can go on without making progress. Instead you could have asked: “Hello, nice to meet you. How many times have you already attended this event?” “This is the first time.” “What do you think thus far?” “The people are really nice and the speaker seems to be interesting.” And now you have two ways to go on: “Apparently you already met some people. Who did you meet?” or “What about the topic of the speaker appeals the most to you?” And then chances are that you have a very pleasant conversation.

Next week: more listening actions.

To your success !

Jan

PS: this is an excerpt from my book “Let’s Connect!”. You can download a free light version of the networking book Let’s Connect in English (or het netwerk boek Let’s Connect in Dutch)


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