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Reach Out and Network

Reach Out and Network

Over the past several days, I’ve had the opportunity to meet several people, from presidents of corporations, to really important people like teachers of children with learning disabilities. I’ve had the opportunity to hear about a lot of businesses, and have received a lot of interesting offers in the mix.

But what was really fun was helping people connect with other people. I got the chance to do that a lot. For instance, my friend Brian Conley runs a show called Alive in Baghdad, a video production where he took his own money (maxed his credit card), and flew to Baghdad to give video cameras to people on the ground. He showed them how to be correspondents, and then had them ship video back Stateside to put up as a compelling video production.

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I helped him contact with some really nice media names and some investors, and he was out there doing it on his own as well. The goal? Raising money for a trip back. (He still needs help, if you’re interested).

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This experience (not just Brian, but the whole networking experience) gave me lots of thoughts I want to share with you for your next opportunity to network. None of them are amazingly new, but you might just want a neat refresher, and a toolkit for your next experience.

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  • Get THEIR Card– We all think it’s about giving out our business cards, but it’s not. Getting THEIR card is what matters, because then YOU can take action. You can write them, call them, send them a personal note. Giving out your cards is as hit and miss as banner ads.
  • Have a pitch ready– My friend, Laura, runs 15 Second Pitch, and she says EVERYONE needs an elevator pitch, not just folks doing a startup. I agree. Having something to tell people when they ask what you’re doing, or what you’re interested in is vital. Without it, why should someone want to talk with you?
  • Move around– When you meet someone you like at an event, or if you arrive with a friend, it’s our habit to want to stay put with that person and talk with them the whole time. Tell them you want the chance to say hi to a few new people and maybe see what comes of it. They’ll understand and probably do the same themselves. Then, circle back every now and again to stay friendly.
  • Don’t Eye-surf, though– This doesn’t mean when you’re meeting someone new, with their card in your hand, that you’re already scanning the room for your next target. It’s just rude. Someone did it to me at this last event, and I threw his card in the trash. I’m sure he’s connected and had business I could work with, but forget it. I value people, and this person clearly was there to surf the room. Love the one you’re with, they say.
  • Keep things brief and uncomplicated– No matter how tricky you think your product, pitch, service, whatever is, it’s not. You can boil it down if you work hard at it. The point of a networking experience isn’t to unload your own personal Bible on someone. It’s to get them interested enough to want to follow up. The point is that there’ll be another meeting. Don’t be coy and don’t throw out half-information like a bad movie trailer. Instead, give someone the easiest possible way to understand what it is you do, and what you’re looking for, and then let THEM decide if it’s worth talking with you further.
  • Be fluid in talking about what you need/do/are– The same information doesn’t work the same way for most people. Talk to the person you’re with in their terms, with their needs. I sat next to a lovely couple who were older than me and not as technologically connected, and I told them a little about video podcasting. They got nervous, so I started talking in simpler terms, and gave it to them from THEIR side of the fence. By the end, they were emailing me asking me for advice on which software to get to start their own video podcast.
  • Respond immediately to queries and emails and to business cards you receive– When you get home from the networking experience, conference, event, whatever, use that moment to respond. Get in touch and tell the person you enjoyed meeting them, and that you’re hoping to do ______ in the future. Give them a “next action” to think about, and let them respond to you. Just saying that it was great seeing them there means nothing. (Though I do use this trick just to load gmail contacts in when I don’t really have business for a person yet).

I’m not a master networker, and I strongly recommend reading Keith Ferrazzi’s NEVER EAT ALONE, which to me is one of the best of breed books about networking out there. But these things I mentioned have helped me along a real lot over the last few days, so I thought I’d share them with you.

–Chris Brogan keeps a blog at [chrisbrogan.com]. He writes about big ideas at the Grasshopper Factory.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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