Project Contour Sheet: Giving others a little help

Folding a contour sheet just prior to sitting down to write today made me think of networking.

“Huh?” you ask. “What could that possibly have to do with networking?”Fotolia_81490753_XS

Well, first I have to confess that I was folding the sheet because it had just come out of the dryer. And my cleaning ladies will need it (and the rest of the sheet set, which I also folded) to make up the guest room bed when they arrive later this morning.  Sure, I could have just plopped the dry sheets in a heap on the bed, but that’s not how I roll. That would seem rude.

Even my mother, who put June Cleaver or Alice from the Brady Bunch to shame with her domestic skills, used to laugh at me for “cleaning up for the cleaning ladies.”  But I always do, whether I’m at home or on the road.  It just makes their job easier and shows a little respect. After cleaning my own house for many years, I know this.

I think the same applies to networking.  In order for others to mingle, socialize and connect well, they need a little help, a little prep work from you.  It’s just a courtesy. Here are nine examples:

  1. How can you meet anyone new at an event if you cling to your colleagues or existing friends — or plop yourself in a corner or at a table where you aren’t in circulation? Get up and move around. Even get a little crazy and take responsibility for the approaching if necessary. Go on up to someone standing alone, smile, and introduce yourself.
  2. Why would anyone want to approach and meet you if your demeanor, facial expression, or body language are closed or unfriendly?  Fire up before the event with your favorite music. Smile. Relax. Remind yourself how awesome you are and how much fun you’re going to have. You just might meet someone who changes your life! (I just did a TED talk on this. That video will be out soon.)
  3. What prep work can you do in advance to ensure you’re showing up as your best, most authentic self?  Maybe get a good night’s sleep. Exercise. Wear your favorite outfit. Love on your kids, dog, or parakeet. Practice your air guitar skills. Read something inspiring.
  4. How can someone remember your name if you don’t say it clearly (or repeat it if necessary) or neglect to help people find a point of reference for saying it properly or remembering it? (“It’s DeNucci – which rhymes with Gucci or Pucci.”) Say your name clearly and proudly when you are introducing yourself and help others find ways to say it correctly and remember it.
  5. How can people enjoy a pleasant, valuable, and memorable conversation with you if you’re not prepared with some good conversation-starting questions? Or if you do all the talking and no listening? Or vice versa? (Which, by the way, can be equally uncomfortable.) One of my favorite questions is “What brought you here today?”
  6. How can anyone help you if you don’t know what you want? (Read Chapter 2 of my book The Intentional Networker.)
  7. How can you help anyone else (a cornerstone of good networking) if you don’t ask them what they want?
  8. How can people follow up with you if you don’t have business cards with you?
  9. What can you do to ensure others feel comfortable in your presence? Because, ultimately, networking isn’y about you.

Can you think of other ways to do some prep work that can help ensure you will make it easy for others to meet you and remember you in a positive light?

How can I help you, your team, or your organization enhance your ability to connect and work together more naturally, effectively, and authentically? I offer a number of presentations, workshops and programs that will help you here — and beyond.


6 Responses to Project Contour Sheet: Giving others a little help
  1. Janki
    June 1, 2015 | 11:25 am

    Great list! I have two things to add which are always pet peeves of mine when I go to a networking event, especially a conference.
    1. Please put the phone away! I feel like it’s the international “don’t talk to me” sign as I don’t know if the person is trying to work or browsing on facebook.
    2. Please bring business cards. I don’t understand how someone attends a conference that costs hundreds of dollars and then fails to bring cards. It looks like either you are completely unprepared or that you are being rude by not giving me your card.
    I like the idea of prepping to make other’s experience better.

    • pattid
      June 1, 2015 | 1:12 pm

      Thanks Janki! Yes, the phone. How to isolate yourself and ensure no one will talk to you. I think people sabotage themselves big-time this way! And I did mention the business cards. Not everyone even uses business cards anymore, but be prepared with an alternative way to share contact information – a way that is convenient. If it’s too hard to get in touch with you, no one will bother. Again, I wonder if this is self-sabotage??

  2. Jan King
    June 1, 2015 | 1:18 pm

    Great reminders, Patti! I love how you framed this as “helping others” — there’s no better way to get me out of my own little orbit so I can start intersecting with others!!

    • pattid
      June 2, 2015 | 8:42 am

      Hi Jan! I so agree. The best way to break your own ice is to look for someone else who needs the same help. I’ve met some really incredible people this way – authors, inventors, and more.

  3. SueAnn Wade-Crouse
    June 2, 2015 | 7:47 am

    There’s always going to be someone who monopolizes the conversation in a group – usually because they are the most comfortable talking among people they don’t know well. I like to directly ask each person in the conversation “cluster” a question that gives them the opportunity to talk about themselves in a different way, like “What’s the most interesting thing you’ve done this year?” This changes the dynamics of the conversation, focuses the conversation away from the dominant talker, gives each person the opportunity to talk about something that excites them, and gets rid of the “canned” responses to typical questions like, “What do you do for a living?” “Where do you work?” Yawn….

    • pattid
      June 2, 2015 | 8:41 am

      SueAnn, what a great idea! Thanks for sharing — and being a reader!

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