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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 February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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