Networking for Introverts

Networking for Introverts

Networking for Introverts – by Ted Janusz

Studies show that up to 93 percent of adults consider themselves shy. And those studies were conducted even before we were encouraged to avoid others by adopting the practice of social distancing and to don the facial attire worn by bank robbers.

Is it any wonder then that when you now go to a social gathering, you may feel uncomfortable?  You may look around the room and think (probably in error), “Everybody here knows each other!” or “I knew it was a bad idea to come here!” or “Everybody is looking at me!”

Relax. There is a good chance that most of the room is feeling just as you are.  To advance both personally and professionally, we need to engage with people. And sometimes we just need to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

To lessen your anxiety, here are six things you can do:

  • Determine in advance your reasons for attending a social event. If necessary, write out the reasons on the back of a business card and sneak a look at the card while you are at the event. You will find that you can do just about anything in life if your why is strong enough. The real secret to successful time management is to constantly ask oneself, “Is this the best use of my time right now?” If so, go to the event and make the best of it. If not, go do something else.
  • Plan what you will say when you meet another person at the event. If you can make your opening statement interesting, or better yet humorous, the conversation can get off to a great start. For instance, at a wedding, one guest introduced herself by saying, “Hello! I am a former girlfriend of the groom’s father!”
  • Go with a friend. You may know people at the event your friend is unfamiliar with, and vice versa. You can introduce your friend to others and say things about your friend that he may socially be unable to say about himself. And he can do the same for you! Speaker Patricia Fripp says, “It’s like being with your own PR person. We say about each other that which we would not say about ourselves.”
  • Look for a person standing alone. “The person, who is speaking to no one, would welcome your conversation,” notes Susan RoAne, “The Mingling Maven,” and best-selling author of How to Work a Room: The Ultimate Guide to Making Lasting Impressions – in Person and Online. “Just because someone is standing alone doesn’t mean he or she is a snob or “unimportant.” People who are alone may be shyer than you.” Perhaps she is hidden under the fake palm tree, clutching a drink in her hands. Chances are, she is repeating those three statements (lies) at the beginning of this article. If you go over and introduce yourself to her, you may have a new best friend for life!
  • Pretend you are a talk show host. Treat the person across from you as the most important guest of the evening. What questions (and answers) would your viewers or listeners want to have discussed? As a good host, make the conversation be about the guest, and not about you.
  • When the other person begins to talk, listen. I believe that empathetic listening has three parts: 1) listen with your ears (obviously), but also 2) listen with your eyes, and 3) listen with your heart. Instead of planning your response, anxiously waiting for the other person’s lips to stop moving so that you can talk, take the time to be present with the other person.

Listen … Truly Listen

Best-selling author Stephen Covey asked, “Do we listen to understand? No! We listen to reply.”  Let me relate the concept of empathetic listening to something I experienced recently. My wife took me into her garden to show off her phlox, mums or rhododendron. I’m not really sure because I am not into gardening. But I am into my relationship with my wife. So rather than thinking at the time about an upcoming presentation I was about to give, I needed to slow down and be in the moment with her.

Always take the time to truly be with the person with whom you are speaking. Do not constantly scan the room for somebody even “more important.”

How to Make Others Love (or Like) You

English journalist Jenni Murray talked about meeting former president Bill Clinton, “He made you feel for those few short moments that you were the only woman in the world and he’d never met anyone as interesting or as lovely as you.” Similarly, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis seemed to possess the ability to have men all over the world fall in love with her. Asked how she did it, the former First Lady replied, “Two ways.  First of all, when a man would finish talking about himself and his work, I would say, ‘Tell me more!’”

(I can only imagine the nervous guy thinking to himself at this point, “Oh, nobody has ever asked me about quim-quat widgets before, but here goes …” We guys and our egos!)

Secondly, as the wife of a wealthy Greek shipping magnate, Jacqueline revealed, “I would hang on their eyes.”

Can you just imagine how powerful that effect must have been?  Now, you may not want women or men all over the world to fall in love with you. You may only want to survive your next social gathering. However, you can adapt Mr. Clinton’s or Ms. Onassis’s strategies to help you achieve your goal.

F – O – R – D

If you tend to be an analytical type (and many shy people consider themselves to be), when you meet a new person, imagine the blue oval of the carmaker Ford emblazoned on her forehead. It will give you clues as to what you can talk about with your conversation partner.

The F stands for “Ask her about her family.” (Everybody has a family.)

The O references her occupation. That does not necessarily mean a paying job. My wife was a stay-at-home-mom, one of the most difficult jobs in the world. She was offended when somebody had the attitude, “Oh, you don’t really work!” So, occupation could even refer to a present vocation, for instance, a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity or some other charitable organization.

The R means relaxation. Ask her what she likes to do for fun!

And if you really feel you have hit it off with your new acquaintance, ask her about D, her dreams.

Don’t Try to Impress, Ask Questions Instead

Another successful networking strategy is to ask questions rather than attempting to impress another person by talking about yourself.

I was interviewing for my first job out of graduate school. The firm sent a new hire who was a recent graduate to interview prospective employees from his alma mater. When it was my turn to sit down with him, I asked him about his experiences in graduate school – about the professors, the fraternities and sororities. The interviewer was thoroughly enjoying himself regaling me with interesting stories. When it was finally my turn to launch into my sales pitch, the interviewer interrupted me by saying, “Ted, you are exactly the kind of person we want working at our firm!”

Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, said, “Everybody has an invisible sign hanging from their neck saying, ‘Make me feel important.’ Never forget this message when working with [or meeting] people.”

What To Do If You Struggle With Small Talk

I thought when I would attend a social event I would need to develop an elevator pitch or some other pithy story, so that when another person would hear it, they would be forced to take a step back and exclaim, “Wow, Ted! That is so profound! Let me hire you right now!”

It isn’t going to happen. So don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself, either. Simply engage in small talk.

“Small talk,” says author Michael Korda, “should intrigue, delight, amuse, fill up time pleasantly. Given that, anything will do, from dogs to delicatessens. The aim of small talk is to make people feel comfortable – to put them at their ease – not to teach, preach or impress.

It’s a game, like tennis, in which the object is to keep the ball in the air for as long as possible.”

Networking … the Right Way

We have all been to a Chamber of Commerce mixer or some similar networking event, at which one of the attendees does networking the wrong way.  His goal is to meet everybody in the room and to get right down to what he wants to accomplish.  He’ll run up to you and say, “Hi!” while thrusting his business card into your hand. “I’m John. I fix computers. If you ever need your computer fixed, call me.”

Before you even have a chance to respond, John will rush off to his next … victim.

“I learned that real networking was about finding ways to make other people more successful,’ says Keith Ferazzi, author of Never Eat Alone and Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time. “It was about working hard to give more than you get. Those who are best at it don’t network – they make friends. The only way to get people to do anything is to recognize their importance and make them feel important.”

 

 

6 Things To Consider If You Are In A Workplace Romance

6 Things To Consider If You Are In A Workplace Romance

As Valentine’s Day approaches, love is in the air. But, if you are in a relationship with a co-worker or thinking about starting one, there’s plenty that you can do to avoid embarrassment, hurt or disruption for yourself and your colleagues. What should you know?  Angela Civitella is a former executive, certified business leadership coach and founder of Intinde.

She Says There Are Six Things To Consider:

  • Check your organization’s HR policy: Many organizations have their own policies on workplace relationships. For example, some companies frown upon one partner managing the other. It’s not that your boss doesn’t want you to be happy, there are larger considerations such as breaches of compliance, conflicts of interest, or inappropriate collusion. The safest option is to ask your HR department if it has a policy in place, and to let your HR Advisor know if you are in a workplace relationship.
  • Consider your company’s culture: Even if it’s not written into HR policy, you need to get a feel for your organization’s cultural view on workplace relationships. This is especially important if you are working abroad, or in an organization with a different culture from your own.
  • Agree to an approach with your partner: Chances are, your colleagues and co-workers already know that you “have a crush” on the redhead in the sales team or the “hunk” in communications, and they may already suspect that it has blossomed into a relationship. You have to decide with your partner how you’ll behave at work. Do you “come clean” and let your colleagues know what’s going on? Or, do you join the third of workplace couples who decide to keep their relationship a secret? Discuss whether to set some boundaries at work, such as not spending too much time alone together, or agreeing not to use your “pet names” for one another
  • Stay professional at work: Your colleagues might approve of your office romance and think you’re the best-matched couple since Romeo and Juliet, but you still need to tread carefully. Indulging in in-jokes, private conversations, and public displays of affection can make your co-workers feel awkward. And if you and your partner are eating lunch together in the staff restaurant, other colleagues may not know whether you want privacy or would welcome the extra company. Why not invite a few more people along? Even if they decline your invitation, you have made the offer. If you discuss business matters together – or, worse still, make business decisions – while your co-workers are absent, it will likely cause resentment. If you’re managing your partner, you need to be especially mindful of your professional interactions, and be seen to be extra careful to treat your other team members equally and fairly.
  • Be prepared for gossip! Human beings are social animals, and we connect with one another by sharing stories and experiences. And the more exciting or shocking those stories, the more engaging they become. So, even if you rigorously follow the rules and are careful with your actions, some people may be quick to make assumptions and to see favoritism or nepotism that’s just not there. It’s a kind of fake news.
  • Plan for the worst: What if the relationship ends? You have to remain professional if your workplace relationship comes to an end, no matter what the reason. This can be a difficult time for you, your ex-partner, and your colleagues, especially if you still have to work closely together. An acrimonious split can poison the atmosphere in the workplace, and impact productivity and morale. If you manage your ex-partner, make sure that you don’t discriminate against them, or you and your organization risk being the subject of a grievance procedure. Don’t get involved in “muck-raking” or “washing your dirty linen in public,” even if your former partner does.

Written By:  Angela Civitella, a former executive, certified business leadership coach and founder of Intinde.

Quick Guide to Marketing for Small Business Saturday – November 30

Quick Guide to Marketing for Small Business Saturday – November 30

Organizations have many options when it comes to marketing for Small Business Saturday, which occurs on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving. Small Business Saturday encourages consumers to support local businesses. The event drives attention to local small companies, presenting them with an opportunity to create brand awareness and increase local sales.

Taking advantage of Small Business Saturday requires planning, executing, and financing strategies. Funding your efforts can be done through securing a small business loan. The working capital can be used to hire seasonal staff, purchase extra inventory, or pay for a marketing campaign.

However, marketing isn’t always simple. Here’s what you need to know and how to take advantage of small business’s big day.

Ramp Up Digital Marketing for Small Business Saturday

Brands must work to engage customers through both digital and physical means. This omnichannel experience begins with digital marketing basics. You Should Consider:

Building Relationships on Social Media: Connecting with customers on social media can help you capture additional holiday sales. When marketing for Small Business Saturday, you may want to gradually tease out your plans for the big day. You can use social media to broadcast a special offer or invite customers to an in-store event. Social media is ideal for highlighting how you plan to celebrate Small Business Saturday. When posting on social media, be sure to include the #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat hashtags.

Using Email Marketing: Email campaigns are an effective way to garner consumer attention and bring awareness to exclusive Small Business Saturday deals. It’s important to go beyond broad, generic messages. Personalization is increasingly vital in standing out in email campaigns.  Key Strategies to Employ:

  • Take the time to get to know your audience.
  • Create copy aimed directly at them.
  • Highlight promotions that fit their needs.
  • Give them a clear action to take in response to the message.

Fostering Online Reviews: Consumers actively research products and services before committing to a purchase. Consider teaming up with an influencer who has a large following and a fair amount of influence within your area or niche. You can send them product samples in return for an honest review. This will help drive visibility and increase consumer confidence.

Implement Traditional Advertising Programs

Small businesses benefit from the ability to offer localized, personal services. You can leverage your relationship with your community to build trust and increase brand awareness. Traditional advertising campaigns can be ideal for furthering your presence in your community. Key Strategies to Employ:

Getting Involved With Your Local Xommunity: Participating in community service events helps you get to know those around you. And helps them get to know your business. Interacting with potential customers in a community setting shows that you’re interested in relationship building rather than just maximizing sales. You could consider sponsoring a charity or local event. Successful community involvement plans require commitment and a genuine interest in what you’re doing.

Run Ad Campaigns With Local Media: If you want to drive engagement at a local level, you must use channels that are specifically aimed at your local community. Your message can slip into the background on far-reaching media channels, but an ad campaign in a local paper can go a long way in helping people connect with your brand.

Offer Deals and Promotions: It’s critical to recognize the importance of deals and promotions when marketing for Small Business Saturday. Limited time offers, and discounts can persuade customers who are on the fence about your products and services to give them a try.

Prepare Your Systems and Operations

If you’re successful at marketing for Small Business Saturday, then you’ll need to be prepared for an increase in volume and customer interactions. Consider:

Optimizing for Mobile: Consumers do everything from product research to actual purchases via smartphones and tablets. Make sure your website is mobile optimized. If your website is not optimized for mobile, you risk running into problems as you work to increase traffic surrounding Small Business Saturday.

Updating Your Website: Make sure your address and contact info is correct on your website. Additionally, review your site to make sure that promotions are prominently displayed, and your payment process is working properly. Put new product pictures out if your current listings seem dated and ensure copy properly reflects your services. Take time to upgrade and adjust your site before the big event.

Hiring Seasonal Staff: Since Small Business Saturday falls in line with the holiday season,  it’s a convenient time to bring in extra staff. Seasonal employees can be used to help launch a new marketing campaign, handle sales, or interact with customers.

Managing Your Inventory: One of the most important considerations for Small Business Saturday is that you have plenty of goods to sell. A boost in sales won’t matter if you don’t have inventory available to meet customer needs. Take some time to analyze your supplies and ensure you’re ready for the increase in demand.

By participating in Small Business Saturday, local businesses receive quite a few perks including community support, great local marketing opportunities, and the high potential to reach new customers. Utilize the above marketing strategies to better prepare for Small Business Saturday and take advantage of the shopping frenzy.

Ben Gold is president of QuickBridge, a privately-held financial services firm providing “small business loans” and short-term working capital funding solutions for small-to medium-sized businesses nationwide. Based on its growth, QuickBridge has ranked two consecutive years on the Inc. 500 Fastest Growing American Companies list. Ben is a thought leader in the financial tech. industry and a contributing member of the Forbes Finance Council.