Happy March everyone! I hope your 2017 is off to a great start! For me personally, the year is moving too fast. I had so many goals to start the year and frankly I’m feeling a little behind. I haven’t gotten more “organized,” I’m still rocking my extra Christmas weight, and I’ve made literally zero progress toward winning the Powerball. Time to shape up and get moving in the right direction!
Another one of the other things I wanted to do this year was get more involved outside of the house. Ever since Megan and I moved to Texas 3 years ago, we’ve felt like we haven’t been as involved in the community as we once were. Now I could argue there’s a few reasons for that – actually, 2 reasons for that, and their names are Avery and Emersyn – but luckily they’re 3 now and have assured us they can take care of themselves. Avery still seems to be having a hard time grasping the idea of pouring her own milk and Emersyn is horrible at laundry, but with a little more effort and concentrated focus, I’m sure they’ll get the hang of it and free us up to not wait on them hand and foot.
Now maybe…..just MAYBE….I’m using the kids as an excuse. Truth is, we just haven’t been as intentional about it as we’ve needed to be. But since we committed to doing things differently in 2017, we are starting to take some action. Megan is looking at CASA (www.casaforchildren.org) and I was introduced to a program at the local school district mentoring with young kids. It’s an amazing program and the student I’m working with is awesome in every way.
I’m not bringing this up to toot my own horn. I’m sharing this because I think there’s a correlation to networking skills in business which might be helpful if you struggle with this aspect of personal development. As I prepared for my first mentoring meeting, it dawned on me I was feeling the same level of anxiety I once felt when trying to establish mentoring or networking opportunities at work. In fact, the self-doubt which kept creeping into my head were eerily similar:
- Is this person going to like me?
- What do we talk about?
- What in the world do I have to bring to the table?
So when it came time for my first visit with my student, I leaned on some advice I was given in business about networking and it really helped kick-start our relationship. It might work for you, too!
Ask the person about themselves – and then explore where the conversation takes you
When it comes to networking, don’t worry as much about what you want to say or what you have to share. Spend more time focusing on the person you’re engaging with. Ask them questions about themselves. Ask about their family, their job, their hobbies, or anything which gets them talking. Once you do I’m willing to bet they’ll say or share something to get the conversation rolling in a seamless way. Case in point – the student I’m working with. In our first meeting, we quickly breezed through our time together talking about his family, his interests, and finding some common ground. Same can be said for a business setting. This approach helps build a more genuine conversation and something you can carry forward in future interactions.
Be curious about their interests or responsibilities
Just asking questions isn’t quite enough though. You have to actually want to learn something new, so try exploring some of their interests at a deeper level. For example, my student likes soccer. I know very little about “futbol” so we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the sport, and it’s helped keep our conversation going over multiple meetings. In business, if you meet someone from a different industry, ask them about the challenges or successes they are seeing and then discuss how it compares to your work environment. If you meet with someone at a higher job level in your company, ask them about the types of decisions and conversations they’re having and compare it to your day-to-day. It will help you not only learn what it might take to grow into those roles yourself, but also something you can revisit in the future.
Networking can be scary – the same way public speaking scares the daylights out of some people. That’s OK! If you try the steps above, you’ll at least help mitigate some of those fears. If you want, practice someplace safe. Start with a neighbor perhaps, then slowly work your way towards trying it in a business setting. With some practice, it will start to feel more normal and actually open up a lot of doors in business and your personal life.
That’s all for now. I’m off to go buy a lottery ticket and start making progress on my other goals!
I’d love to hear from you! Hit me up on #HavensSpeaking and let me know what you do to stay involved in your community. I’d love to get some new ideas I could try out myself!