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Thursday, October 21, 2010

THE SLOGANATOR: Your Mother was Wrong, Talk to Strangers

Rhonda L.Sher
In this age of Facebook, LinkedIn and the endless social networking site, it is curious that there is no slow down in the number of networking events where people meet face to face. That is a relief given that we are in such a technological age and the need for the personal touch is still so vital.

Many people that I meet would rather have a root canal than go to a networking event because they see them as a waste of their valuable time and often do not turn into new prospects, clients or customers. Granted that walking into a room full of strangers can bring you back to how you might have felt when you were in junior high school at a dance where the boys are on one side of the room and the girls are on the other and most people are just in groups where they know one another. Many networking events that I have attended reminded me of those awkward days. It can be difficult to talk to strangers even under the best of circumstances when the event is set up for that purpose and there are ambassadors and others to help you and make introductions.

So how can you take an experience that for many is uncomfortable, often unproductive and awkward at best into one that can produce new friends, potential new clients, relationships and referral partners? Easier said than done but if you know what networking can do for you, you will be more likely to put a plan into action and get better results. So what does effective networking really look like?

Effective networking really means networking with a purpose which is really about being open to meeting new people and building relationships. No matter what you want to do, where you want to live or what specific job you seek, understanding how to network is an incredibly valuable tool. The rewards that come your way as a result of networking effectively are well worth learning this valuable skill.

Networking by definition means talking to people when you don’t need something,” says Peter Shankman, founder of HARO, a resource that connects small businesses with journalists. What that really means is being open to meeting new people almost anywhere. You could be in a line at the bank, waiting for your turn at the cash register at Costco or simply sitting alone in Starbucks or a restaurant. It might even be talking to the person next to you at the nail salon (a great place to nail a referral) or on the treadmill or bike next to you at the gym. The possibilities are endless when you pay attention to the people around you and start a conversation.

The secret to networking is to know embrace the givers’ gain philosophy. Be a resource to those people you know and reach out and help them. Always be looking for ways to help others and it will come back to you. You can even do this with people you don’t know. If you happen to overhear a conversation and it is not inappropriate to join in if you have some information that might be valuable, do just that. Be the resource and pay it forward. Networking is an activity that is really about paying it forward. It does mean going out of your comfort zone but it is like those old pair of gym shorts that get stretched out. They will never go back to their original size and it will be easier for you talk to strangers every time you do it.

Networking is really about being a connector. It is also about the personal touch which is something that is often forgotten. When you have a conversation with someone, use their name when you are speaking to them. Ask open ended questions. Don’t forget to follow-up and do what you said you were going to do. Your credibility depends upon it.

In this digital age, the handwritten note is still welcomed as is a phone call verses a text message or voice mail. Find ways to connect with people on a personal level. Consider joining a service organization such as Rotary or the Lions Club which are both great places to meet new people and develop relationships. There are multiple types of meet up groups that lend themselves to great opportunities to network and meet new people. There are also many social clubs that lead to business networking.

The secret to being effective is to do something that you enjoy which will attract the type of people you want to meet. It will be much easier for you to develop rapport with people which will naturally lead into talking about your business. The conversations should not be forced but rather natural. Opportunity to meet new people is everywhere. All you need to do is change the way you view the places you go and start conversations with strangers. You will be amazed how easily the conversation flows and strangers will soon become friends. Remember that you are a connector and your role is to reach out and stay in touch and follow-up. Don’t let the person you met be a ship passing in the night. Ask for your new friend’s business card and send a note or make a call arranging to meet again. Think of each new person you meet as a treasure chest of opportunities to find new relationships, new friends and possibly a source of new business. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose. Remember, your mother was wrong, talk to strangers and master the “f” word, follow-up and you will always be just two minutes and two people away from your next great referral.

Rhonda L Sher: The Sloganator Rhonda L Sher was born talking. She fell in love with words as a child and has never stopped communicating since. Her father once commented that she was vaccinated with a phonograph needle. Not only has Rhonda inherited her father's humor, but it's that quick wit that has become the signature that has helped propel her clients to stardom.Acclaimed Keynote and workshop leader, Rhonda has authored two books, "The 2 Minute Networker" and "The ABC's of LinkedIn," "Get LinkedIn or Get Left Out" as well as numerous action guides, articles, workbooks, jingles and corporate slogans.

In addition to writing, Rhonda uses her gift of gab as a featured keynote speaker, consultant and corporate trainer throughout North America. She has successfully taught hundreds of business men and women on the art of business networking and written hundreds of elevator pitches and slogans.Rhonda's greatest talent lies in her ability to create fabulously catchy slogans that are memorable, upbeat, easy to repeat and create instant brand identification. In addition to the books, audio and video, Rhonda creates slogans and taglines for her clients which are memorable, bring them business and make them, money. She works with you to create a corporate slogan for your business that sets you apart from your competition. Her creativity and energy will tap into your customer's mind and have your phone ringing off the hook with new business.

Rhonda's Products can be previewed at:

The Two Minute NetworkerMingle To Make Money

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The Emergence of the Relationship Economy features TNNWC Founder, Adam J. Kovitz as a contributing author and contains some of his early work on The Laws of Relationship Capital. The book is available in hardcopy and e-book formats. With a forward written by Doc Searls (of Cluetrain Manifesto fame), it is considered a "must read" for anyone responsible for the strategic direction of their business. If you would like to purchase your own copy, please click the image above.


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