Tag Archives: Networking

Accessorize Your Personality

24 Nov

By: Sheilah Griggs

Earrings

Earrings by Susan Surdi

This last week in NYC the city seemed so much more friendly, so much more welcoming than I even remember from when I called it home. I connected with so many new people, and strangers started conversations everywhere my feet took me. I started realizing that there was one common thread that made busy New Yorkers actually stop and speak to me, so I thought I’d share the secret. Not that it is revolutionary but to my surprise it was measurably effective. However, it did require me to step out of my comfort zone, and of course, I had to do my part to continue the conversation and turn the chance meetings into relationships.

My friend, Sue, a jewelry designer, sent me to New York City with a box of treasures while making me promise to give my traditional diamond studs and pearls a break. I was not living up to my accessory potential in her assessment and needed to kick it up a bit. Well, okay, a lot. So, I trusted her and promised to wear something different everyday. And everyday I would stand in the mirror wondering if I could really pull it off… and guess what? I could!! People consistently commented everywhere I went.

I had ZERO clue that one promise to Sue would be the catalyst to cultivate new relationships and open up a world of opportunity. Seriously, it was the jewelry that made NYC more friendly, more engaging, less scary. If it can work in NYC, it can work anywhere. Take the leap, wear something unique and see what happens. But be ready for the conversation that follows and make it count! Smile, be friendly, engage and say thank-you. Return the compliment and go from there with witty banter…. it will work.

If you want to see some of what I wore to make new friends, check out:  www.creativemindsgallery.com

How I Learned to Network

1 Oct

By: Taylor Vick

I grew up in a suburban white community. It was all about the politics – think Real Wives of Dallas. The women who knew how to network the best were the ones who were always featured in the society section, their kids always got the lead roles in the musicals, and their husbands were always invited to the top men’s business associations in town. A powerful networker truly cannot be stopped.

Highland Park, TXI was first introduced to the real power of networking by my Grandmother. She had an author friend in town and I happened to stop by her house for a visit. This woman talked herself into getting me in touch with the National Debutante Cotillion, since she was so impressed with me. (I really only smiled and nodded as any shy 17 year old would do). A few months later, I received a call to join Washington D.C.’s finest for a week of Debutante parties. I was honestly in shock.

[Side note – anyone who knew me at 17 knew I was a total tomboy who only wore jeans, Dr. Marten’s and baggy shirts. Not exactly the “Debutante” or “Sorority” type].

Debutantes to me equaled white dresses, and a parent’s excuse to throw a mini-wedding celebration for the honor of getting a mention in the newspaper. Not my thing at all. I couldn’t have been any more wrong.

The Washington D.C. Debutante Cotillion was about the fabulous dress, but it was also about learning how to network. By watching the other guests, I determined three things: talk to everyone regardless of station, don’t be shy, and start a conversation because no one else will do it for you. Talk about the embodiment of Carpe Diem! This wasn’t your typical event. It was a bunch of politicians, original USA families who could trace their origins back to a founding father, military officials, and me. What did I have to offer?

National Debutante Cotillion

Taylor (in blue)

I blossomed into the best conversationalist I could be. I asked my conversation partner questions about what they did, their interests, their ideas. Never once did I offer a story about myself unless specifically asked. By listening intently, I instantly elevated my position as more than a Debutante. I was a powerhouse of networking!

I knew exactly who to connect to whom. I was able to remember birthdays, anniversaries, and important stories or dates in that person’s life. After the parties were over and life had settled down, I was able to write thank you notes, send birthday cards and otherwise let my new friends know that I was thinking about them.

The result of all of this is that I have a place to stay in most metropolitan areas in the USA, as well as in many European countries. Not only that, but I have a wide variety of connections I can tap for business recommendations, political influence, business ideas, and (my favorite part) friends I can count on for travel.

The biggest lesson I learned for networking is: the more you practice, the better you become at it. Practice really listening and remembering facts, dates, ideas, etc. Practice making social situations about everyone else other than yourself. Be gracious. Don’t interrupt. And more than anything: be there to have fun!

Networking…. It’s Elementary

27 Sep

By: Sheilah Griggs

Networking

Copyright Health Care Leaders: http://www.hclabc.bc.ca

The word “networking”, while creating an orgasmic flurry of excitement in some, can often cause an otherwise mature adult to roll their eyes like a teenage girl. Why such extreme reactions? The one panting thinks he will meet someone at the next meeting that will make him a millionaire and the other sees it as a waste of time because the guy living from event to event is doing so over a garage.

Networking alone does not put food on the table nor does being a hermit help grow your business. If you are fortunate enough to have a team where the introverted workaholic is balanced by the gifted socialite, then your chances for success are good. But what if YOU are the team?

Regardless of the scenario, everyone can find their balance if they stay networking neutral. How do you do that? Well, first of all, stop looking at it as “networking” and start looking at it as making friends. Now, what did we learn about making friends in elementary school…. Be nice, don’t interrupt and share your toys. Things really aren’t that different – our clothes are just bigger.

Nobody liked the pushy bully in school and now he’s grown up to be a salesman – no matter what he’s selling, people will go hide in the corner to escape his mouth. Selling should not be your goal. Building a relationship should be. You can’t expect a deal to close on the first night…. people who do that are called sluts, if you recall. So, be patient, be charming, and be liked.

Arcadia Playground

Copyright Arcadia Playground: http://www.plioz.com

Nobody really liked the snotty “soch” that wouldn’t share her Aqua Net and talked about, well, about herself. So focus on asking questions and give your elevator pitch in a conversational way and when solicited. Don’t worry, people will ask what you “do” because it’s more comfortable than asking who you “are” on a first date.

The shy girl always on the sideline at the high school dance probably grew up and created something amazing like the windshield wiper. But, at a networking event, she’s probably still waiting for someone to smile her way. Be the one who does it! Bring someone out of their shell and they’ll never forget you. If you were the star quarterback, probably by now your waist line is higher than the number on your jersey but all of that attention probably gave you quite a bit of confidence. Use your powers for good – help someone feel part of the action. Be helpful to someone else and you will be remembered.

Of course, if we only knew back then that the “nerd” would grow up to run a Fortune 500, we might have said yes when he asked us out. So, when someone who doesn’t seem like your “type” wants to chat or grab coffee, take the half hour to do so. You’ll still have friends the next day at the lunch table, trust me.

In a way, all this “networking” stuff is really very old school. In all of this over sharing and electronic communication we’ve seemed to have forgotten the art of conversation…. but that’s for another blog.