Shiny happy people

Shiny happy people

“Spotto!” my daughter screams at the top of her lungs as we round the corner. Sure enough a lovely yellow hatchback speeds past us in the opposite direction and my daughter wins the award for spotting the highest number of yellow cars on that trip.

I always thought that yellow cars were a bit of a novelty and car manufacturers only made a few of this very bright colour. Not so! Since I’ve been playing Spotto with the kids I have seen more yellow cars in the last month than I have seen in my entire life.

Why is that?

Our Reticular Activating System (RAS) allows our brain to focus on things that are important and filters out unimportant messages. Perhaps the most important function of the RAS is its control of consciousness; it is believed to control sleep, wakefulness, and the ability to consciously focus attention on something. In addition, the RAS acts as a filter, dampening down the effect of repeated stimuli such as loud noises, helping to prevent the senses from being overloaded.

The brain only knows what is important when you tell it so. In other words, the brain focuses on what you focus on. For example, ever notice how when you are angry you have more frustration on the road, find more things to complain about and make everyone around you angry too?

I have a theory about how this scientific rule can apply to networking and to life. And this is just one example, but a good one to start with.

If our subconscious mind can select what we see and experience via our RAS then it stands to reason that we would attract or notice happy people if we focused on finding happiness or consciously looked for happy people. Rather than simply acting on the Law of Attraction and focusing on the outcome, we are looking for people who embody the qualities or the skills we are wanting to emulate. We are manufacturing a happy environment.

We all know that person at an event or party who is the life of the party. You know, the one everyone loves to be around, the one who is always happy. What I have learned in my observations of thousands of people over the years is that there are two types of “life of the party” type people. There are people who may be the life of the party this week, who are loud and rambunctious and hilarious in many instances.

Sadly these are people who are loud in order to cover up their fear of being exposed and who make fun of others to deflect the attention from themselves. These people are funny one week and often end up being considered boorish the next.

The other type of “life of the party” person are those who are genuinely happy to see you. Those who are genuinely curious about what you have to say and can find the good in any situation. They are fun to be around because they can tell a story with intelligent good humour rather than insulting comedic sarcasm. What if we consciously focused on looking for and unearthing these people?

Surely, if we made a regular effort to find more of these people within our targeted groups, we would notice more of them. If many people made a conscious effort to find these people then many would notice more of them and maybe we would just tip the balance and create more happiness. It would certainly create stronger and happier networks, which can only be a good thing.

Taking this one step further, what if we consciously looked for people with similar values about the planet, politics and family? The possibilities are endless.

So while you get busy looking for shiny happy people, I’m off to find some more shiny yellow cars!

Decide to Network

Decide to Network

Use every letter you write,

Every conversation you have,

Every meeting you attend,

To express your fundamental beliefs and dreams.

Affirm to others the vision of the world you want.

 

Network through thought,

Network through action,

Network through love,

Network through the spirit.

You are the centre of a network,

You are the centre of the world,

You are a free, immensely powerful source of life and goodness.

 

Affirm it,

Spread it,

Radiate it,

Think day and night about it,

And you will see a miracle happen:

The greatness of your own life.

 

In a world of big powers, media, and monopolies,

There are four and a half billion individuals,

Networking is the new freedom,

The new democracy,

A new form of happiness.

 

By Dr Robert Muller Assistant Secretary-General for Economic & Social Services for the United Nations

Networking Etiquette 101

Networking Etiquette 101

“We must catch up for coffee” is often the parting phrase at the end of networking events. I know this first hand, I’ve heard those exact words uttered thousands of times between thousands of people. How many of those flippant coffee invitations actually transpire into a latte or flat white?

I understand life gets busy, believe me I do, but I also believe we need to be a little more truthful when we suggest a coffee catch up. There is definitely a trend towards the empty promise in this department. Simply saying “I look forward to next time we meet” is a perfectly acceptable parting statement rather than offering an experience that you have no intention of delivering.

 

So no more empty promises! Stand by your invitation and connect with those who you do really want to share a Latte with. With that in mind here are some tips to help:

1. Why meet?

If it is you who suggests the meeting then state why you would like to catch up. If it is to discuss something specific then say so. If it is just to get to know someone or catch up on things then say that too.

2. Who books?

If it is you who suggests the caffeinated catch up then it should be you who arranges it so don’t offer unless you are prepared to follow through. You can always ask rather than invite by saying “We have a lot to talk about, should we catch up for coffee sometime?” Then you can gauge response and, if positive, say “great, I’ll organise it”. Easy!

3. Who pays?

You invite, you pay. That is usually how it should be for a simple coffee. I say usually because I am amazed at how many times it is not! And often without so much as a thank you! If you invite you get the bill – or at least offer and be prepared to insist past the first counter-offer. If you have been invited by someone and then decide to have a three course meal, then you cannot expect the other person to pay so you need to offer your share.
Learn to say thank you in a gracious manner if it is their turn to pay. Rather than start the “oh no, let me pay” banter – just say thanks and be truly grateful.

4. What next?

If you have been invited to coffee and wish to continue the business relationship then offer to arrange (and pay for) the next coffee. Then make sure that you do! Put a date in your diary sooner rather than later, even if that date is a month or two in advance. Believe me, it will be here before you know it!

5. How long?

One hour is the standard time for a meeting, coffee meeting or otherwise. Do try to stay within this out of respect for the other person’s schedule. If you need to discuss business then try to have your conversation finished 15 minutes prior to the end of the hour so that you have time for general chat afterwards.
I can remember a number of times coming away from a coffee meeting feeling a little flatter than my flat white because of poor etiquette, being purely sold to, or lack of understanding about why we were meeting in the first place. On the flip side, I have shared many a flat white with inspiring, polite, energising people where connections were made and business was done in the most wonderful way.

Cappucino thanks….

Are you sending the right message?

Are you sending the right message?

Whether you use facebook for fun, LinkedIn for business or Pinterest to keep track of that coveted wardrobe, your online persona is important to your career, business and your image in general.

The idea of social media hinges on the first word – social. It is and should be a conversation. Think of social media as an extension of your face to face activities rather than a stand alone channel. The idea is to create, build and nurture relationships. Social media just gives you the ability to do that on a greater scale. Where possible try to interact with your peeps through events, phone calls, Skype and other face to face opportunities. The depth of connection and quality of conversation you will experience as a result will catapult your social media presence beyond anything you could have expected. Others on the fringe will be thinking that they want to be a part of the fantastic conversation and will seek you out. The key? Be real, be you and enjoy! Above all, be respectful, generous and relevant.

What is the personality of your personal/business brand? Does it match your personality online and in face to face connections? A good test for this is to Google yourself and see what comes up. Is it consistent? Would others think of you in the way you want be thought of? Do your social media profiles match up? Remember that each social media channel is an opportunity for a different kind of conversation so each profile may be slightly different and use different language, however they are all variations on one central theme which is your personal brand.

One important thing to remember is that everyone is busy. The quickest way to lose a contact is to flood them with meaningless content that just wastes their time (and yours!). Regardless how important your latest meal is to you, your trusty followers really don’t need a spoon by spoon account! Post what is relevant, topical, funny and useful rather than posting for the sake of posting. Now, I am all for regular appearances through social media to maintain your brand and boost your network, just ensure that the content is something others want to read at a time they want to read it. Your followers do not need to be flooded with content when it suits you and then hear nothing for days. Try using a tool such as buffer.com or hootsuite.com which allow you to find your posts when it is convenient for you but schedule them to be delivered at times that are convenient for your readers.

Remember that social media is just one channel of your marketing mix. Back it up with consistent branding, solid relationships and other face to face opportunities and your reach and brand message will be first class.

Enjoy!

Aren’t you just a little bit Curious?

Aren’t you just a little bit Curious?

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing”

Albert Einstein

We are curious creatures by nature. If we weren’t curious we wouldn’t investigate, learn and grow. Curiosity and fascination go hand in hand. Imagine wide eyes filled with wonder and fascination about all the amazing people, places and things on this planet. Being curious takes the attention away from ourselves and shifts it outwards. Developing curiosity is an excellent approach for introverted networkers.

Curiosity is a powerful thing. Curiosity can flip the attention from you to another person object or message. Energy flows outwards rather than inwards. Many highly intelligent people are terrified of networking due to simply putting too much pressure on themselves. Instead of being concerned with how we come across at a networking event what if we were simply curious about those we meet? Here are some proven ways to kickstart your curiosity.

Fake it until you make it
Learning to be curious is as much a lesson in presence and attention as it is curiosity. Challenge yourself to be fully present in every conversation, no matter what, and your curiosity quotient will soar. When we become fully present and give ourselves over to the conversation we hear things that we would normally miss. I came across a quote recently that said most people listen with intent to reply rather then the intent to understand. In today’s busy world, and after having millions of conversations, I have to agree. This was such a timely reminder that I have put monthly reminders into my calendar to be present and curious in every conversation!

Having trouble? fake it until it becomes a habit. pretend to be interested until you really do start to be intrigued about what drives others and what empowers them to do what they do.

Ask questions
Nobody will tell you their life story at the outset. bring out the story and you may uncover a side of this person you could never have imagined. Ask questions that showcase the other person and allow them to shine. Ask them about their role and what led them to that line of work. Ask them how they feel and think about a subject rather than how they are and what they did on the weekend.

Go deeper
Anyone who has a teenage child will understand the conversation destroying impact of mono-syllabic answers. The trick for them and also for unimaginitive responses in the networking sphere is to go deeper, investigate and probe for feelings rather than simple answers. Use the information you have gained in your initial questioning and take it further. Build a story about this person that will truly enable you to help them get to where they want to go. Who knows, you may meet someone in the future who could be the catalyst for the most incredible career opportunity of their lives. How would that make you feel?

Track the story
Keep in touch with those you meet and track the story you uncovered in your first meeting. This is not an invitation to stalk your new friend, rather a suggestion to record notes about your meetings to enable effective conversation starters later. You may not need to record reminders but if you have trouble remembering details then a quick memory jog of important notes may be all you need to make your last meeting feel like just yesterday.

Share the celebration
Enjoy your connections and enjoy congratulating them on their wins. Even something as simple as wishing happy birthday in a phone call can make your contact feel like you care. Enjoy your friendships and the unique contribution each person makes to your life, even if it is just a chat on the phone every now and again. Everyone is special and if you are truly curious about each person you meet then you will see that sooner than you think.

Is your network favour-ready?

Is your network favour-ready?

Life doesn’t always go according to plan. Sometimes we get to a point where we have to call in a favour. Whether it is for personal reasons or business reasons, we all need a helping hand from time to time.

It is at these times that the value of a strong and supportive network cannot be underestimated.

Think about the last time you had to ask for help. How did it feel? Who did you ask? Was it the person you have met a few times at an event? Or was it a family member or someone you have known for a while and feel very connected to?
Without exception I would guess that it was the latter. We all feel more comfortable asking for help from someone we have helped in the past or have a strong relationship with.

That help may be a business referral, new staff member, new job, supplier or any number of other things, or it could be help of a more personal nature. Whichever it is, creating strong networks is immensely valuable. It makes sense to nurture those connections with whom you feel a connection.

How do you do that? Here are some ideas:

1. Keep in touch and stand out from the tech clutter
There is no point building a connection with someone and then forgetting about them. Stay in touch with people you meet. Invite them to events, catch up for coffee, send them articles of interest and refer your contacts to others. Staying in touch with people and seeing them regularly is the best way to build and sustain the relationship. You cannot do that by sitting behind a computer screen. While you can use social media and email as additional ways to keep it touch, always remember technology’s not the only way. If your contact is geographically distant consider Skype or go back to snail mail once in a while.

2. Be of service with a mindset to match
What can you do for the people you know? Imagine a fire that radiates heat outwards and lights up everything around it as opposed to a block of dry ice that burns everything it touches. Create a mindset of generosity rather than competitiveness and your network will flourish.

3. Be reliable
This is pretty obvious: if you commit to doing something, always do it. Everyone knows there are things that come up and on rare occasions to prevent you from fulfilling your promises. If this happens just be upfront and honest and explain the situation. If you don’t think you can’t honour an obligation, don’t offer it in the first place.

4. Be a conduit
Think of your network as a pool of talent and you as the recruiter. Who can you refer? Who should meet? Who would get along well? Refer people generously and put groups together. Others will be grateful for the introduction and will feel comfortable doing the same. Don’t worry if you haven’t worked together just go with your instincts and refer those who you like and trust. Tell the person you are referring them to that you haven’t worked with them but like what you see, so it’s up to them to decide. Just make the introduction.

5. Follow up
People get busy. We’re all overwhelmed. Be prepared to be the driver of the relationship until it is solid. It is very easy to forget to catch up and many times it can be a very long time between coffees. Build catch-ups into your routine. If someone tells about a project they are working on, put it into your diary to follow up with them and see how it went. You will be reminded and they will be flattered you cared enough to follow up.

6. Don’t gossip
Another obvious one, but a rule that’s often ignored. Be very careful about with whom and how you discuss bad experiences. Feedback is one thing, gossip is another. Maintain your integrity. Always.

You never know when you will need to call in a favour but trust me, when you do, you will be forever grateful that you have a strong network. I was.