Embarrassing things happen all the time but what do you do if you find yourself in the ultimate embarrassing situation at a networking event? Networking events are the one place where we pride ourselves on putting our best foot forward; making that perfect first impression.
Last year, Moo.com asked their Facebook followers to share their most embarrassing networking stories. As you will see, the responses ranged from the simple blunders to some pretty unusual errors in judgment.
Do any of these sound familiar? Whether you have had your fair share of slipups or have nightmares about the possibilities, this will prove that at least you aren’t alone.
Pop on over to our Facebook page and tell us YOUR most embarrassing networking story.
See you there~
(Camel is walking through an office suite)
Camel: “Uh-oh! Guess what day it is?? Guess what day it is! Huh…anybody? Julie! Hey…guess what day it is?? Ah come on, I know you can hear me. Mike Mike Mike Mike Mike… What day is it Mike? Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Leslie, guess what today is?”
Since this commercial aired, everywhere you turn someone is referencing the Hump Day camel. If you have not seen a pin on Pinterest, an Ecard on Facebook or received an email with a hump day camel reference, I dare say that you are in the minority (for which you should be thankful).
But let me ask you this…when you think about that commercial does your mind immediately go to the company it represents? Is it an entertaining commercial that takes you a minute to remember the brand? Do you remember the brand at all?
Now think back to another commercial you love. It would depend where you are located geographically but here in the southeast the Publix commercials come to mind. During the holiday season they have a few commercials with no words at all, just music. When it hear that music (no matter where I am or what I’m doing) I immediately think of Publix.
The difference between the two has to do with how they make you feel. Although both commercials are enjoyable, the emotions that they stroke and connection that they make are very different.
Now think about your personal brand. When you network, meet people, attend luncheons or talk to others about your brand, how easily will they remember you days, weeks or months down the road? Did you represent your personal brand in a way that will allow it to be an instant recall in their minds much like the wordless Publix commercial? Will it be the enjoyable encounter that lacks the POP needed to be instantly memorable?
Taking the time to make a true connection is the difference. A true connection can happen when you focus less on yourself and more on others. So often we put the emphasis on telling others what we do and how our brand/service/product can help them that we forget to find out exact what their needs are first. Ask questions, be curious, and learn about who they are and what they do. When we take the time to do this, we create that something much deeper than the superficial exchange of business cards. By being genuinely intrigued, you will produce that feeling for others which will create that memorable connection.
This may not come natural for you and that is okay. Most good communication skills take time and practice.
Today, I challenge you to “ask more and talk less” – the results will make you happier than a camel on hump day!
Thanks for reading~
I am not going to tell you my age however I will tell you that the article, Baby Boomers and Social Media, held a lot of interest for me as it asks the question “When will baby boomers and social media become synonymous?”
I love social media! My sister, 7 years my senior, doesn’t even own a computer. People are shocked when they ask for her email address and she admits that she doesn’t have one. Most of us can’t even imagine our day to day world without a computer, email, Facebook, Twitter and anything else we are addicted to on the World Wide Web. Have you ever tried to “unplug” during vacation, for a single day or even for a single meal? I don’t know about you but I tried and failed. It was hard as hell.
Baby Boomer or not, this article will shed some light on the Pew Internet Project’s research related to social media. Give it a browse and let us know what you think.
Thanks for reading~
Check your appearance in the mirror… ACK !!!! There’s a stain on your jacket, shirt, blouse, or whatever you’re wearing to the presentation. The source of the offending stain doesn’t matter. It’s there – large as life!
Act natural: Panic! Quick, go through the list of standard questions:
Tide Stick? No, too late, won’t dry in time.
Maybe they won’t see it. I saw it. They’ll probably see it. (Even if they don’t, you’d feel like you’re wearing a big sign that says: LOOK HERE à).
Do I have something else to wear? No. I didn’t think of that. Led Zeppelin T-shirt in the car appropriate? Probably not.
If you haven’t found yourself in this situation, you’ve probably thought about it. Whether you’re teaching a training session, networking over lunch with a potential customer or client, meeting with your boss or trying to get your big project approved by the C-suite; there are two types of presenters. Those who have done it and those who will.
Being a big guy, I am forever getting something greasy on my shirts – food, gasoline, actual grease, (this morning it was automatic transmission fluid), go figure. Luckily, I’m not presenting today.
As a professional trainer, part of my pre-presentation preparation is to check my favorite shirt in a room with good lighting before I put it on. Then I check it again in a room with different lighting. Stains are sneaky, ya know. My final step…..ask my wife.
If I’m very well prepared, I’ll take a matching set of clothes and leave them in the car. Even if I get out of the house unscathed, it doesn’t mean I’ll make it through the day without a spill. You will never guess how many times I’ve had to think, “I wonder if they’ll notice that the polo shirt with the IBM logo that I was wearing now says 3M? Nah~”
Here are some other tips I have tried: Stay away from greasy, messy, and easily spilled breakfast items. Stick to power bars, fruit, and water. Avoid eggs, hash browns, doughnuts, coffee. Don’t put yourself in a position where you can be jostled by other people. I’m enough of a klutz myself, I don’t need help. I even have a friend that wraps a napkin around her glass so condensation doesn’t drip on her.
Lunch – If I have my choice of menu items, I stick to the low risk items; easily handled, not too soupy, light on the sauces. The goal here is to consume just enough sustenance to make it to through the rest of your day. Quit while you are ahead. If you are full(ish) and you haven’t spilled yet, Stop. Murphy’s Law: It’s always the last forkful that will get you.
Things to avoid – BBQ anything! Sloppy burgers, soups, copious amounts of salad dressing. Anything with filling. Get the point?
This brings me to the original idea for this blog. Self-Adhesive Napkins! It’s one of those inventions I wish someone would develop, because I could use it. (Note: In case someone does develop this and makes their million, I want a lifetime supply delivered to my house as payment for my participation.)
Self-Adhesive Napkins = A medium sized napkin packaged up like a small wet nap, in a little pouch, perfect for the pocket or purse. Large enough to cover your food catching zone, this napkin comes with an adhesive strip on the back to keep it in place. Bonus: They can be offered in designer colors so the user can choose a napkin color that will complement their wardrobe.
I can hear the food snobs now: “Well, that’s tacky.” Is it not tacky and embarrassing to sport a big grease stain on the front of your shirt? Is it less tacky to tuck your napkin into your collar? You choose. Remember, this is a practical tool, not a five star solution to impress Ms. Manners.
I hope these tips will help. We all want to go out and be great all day every day. It’s hard to be great with BBQ sauce on your shirt.
PS: To the entrepreneur: a case should be a good start. I’ll let you know when I begin to run low.
We would love to hear your most embarrassing wardrobe malfunction story. Share with us in the comments below, on the RFN Facebook page or on Twitter.
Graduation is just around the corner and soon enough, you’ll be searching for the perfect company where you want to invest all of the knowledge and skills you’ve gained from college. But what they didn’t teach you in class is how to face an employer when they ask you vital questions during a job interview.
Based on a survey from GreenJobInterview, companies are now using online video interviews as an alternative approach of screening their applicants. If one of your potential employers asked for an online meeting, here are some recommended tips you can do to ace an interview.
Do it from home:
Although it will be online, it’s best to do the conference while you’re at the comfort of your home. Avoid conducting it while in public places where there are various distractions and noise. Find a nice, quiet room in your house. Take extra effort in tidying up the place so that you will get a good impression from your interviewer. Even when you’re at home, don’t forget to dress accordingly.
Practice makes perfect:
If this is your first time, seek help with your friends or family and try do a serious online video chat with them. This allows you to get used to the process and help you determine the areas that you need to improve on. Verizon wireless news center recommends the Job Interview Question-Answer app which “provides an opportunity to record your answers to frequently asked questions then compare your responses to those provided by a job interview coach.”
Familiarize yourself with your resume, the company, and the job description. Learning all the necessary information about the job, the business and your skills that will benefit them is a plus point for you. This will also allow you to be confident whenever they ask you pertinent questions related to the work you applied.
Set your devices in order:
Make sure that your internet connectivity is stable for a lag-free video call. Double check the webcam and the microphone if they’re in good working condition. Before they fire away the questions, ask first if they can see and hear you properly to avoid any miscommunications.
Observe proper posture:
Your body language is more obvious in virtual chat. The company might be using third-party software to record the entire conversation so bad physical habits like avoiding eye contact, playing with one’s hair, or checking your phone every now and then will clearly be seen. Make sure that you sit up comfortable all throughout the interview. Look directly at the web camera and not at the screen to create the illusion that you are having eye contact with the person you are talking to. Lean slightly forward but make sure you are not crowding the camera. You can also don’t nod or smile once in a while to show your enthusiasm.
Technology is changing the way employers seek future employees. And if we want to get our dream job, we need to be prepared at all times.
Do you have any other suggestions that you can share with fellow job hunters? We love to hear your thoughts.
The other day I opened up my email and saw the most unusual message. No, it wasn’t something to enhance my manhood or a message that I had won an international lottery. It was a message titled, “Networking for my wife.”
I was curious, because it was sent to an account that the spammers hadn’t found yet, and it also came from the contact form from my freelance business website. The name and address were also unfamiliar.
Once I opened it and read the short but direct message, I was flabbergasted. To paraphrase, the sender (someone I did not know) introduced himself as someone following me on Twitter. I later checked and he had literally just started following me before he sent the message. He must have then gone to my website and saw that I did online marketing and design work and inferred that I could help his wife, also a designer find a job. He even included a link to her portfolio.
It made me start to think about networking and I wondered if this was a new trend. I understand that technology has advanced so that we are now able to connect to one another instantaneously, but it’s still not a substitute for building a real relationship before asking for something, like a job – for your wife!
So I came up with my three steps for networking online:
1. A Follow, a Like, A Connect does not mean we know each other. Tweet me, ask me a question and best of all give me a compliment to start the relationship. In essence, start it like any other human, real life relationship.
2. Reach out to me on multiple mediums to really get to know me. If we met on Twitter, then follow me on Instagram or Pinterest. If we are in similar fields find me on LinkedIn or if you think we could be friends in real life friend me on Facebook to keep the conversation going.
3. Let’s get to know each other offline. Let’s schedule a phone chat, Skype call, or better yet if I am somewhere near you, then let’s meet for coffee or lunch.
After all of that, then you can ask me to help you find a job or your wife a job!
Melanie Sklarz creates strategic, smart and social online solutions for small businesses and non-profit organizations. Her passion is crafting a solid brand and promoting it through online communications and community outreach.
I recently read an article by Fast Company Inc. on 8 Simple Ways to Get Happier at Work. #1 addresses “walking meetings.” A walking meeting is ….well….you meet while you walk. This is something I have actually practiced and I am here to say that it is awesome.
Here are some “why” and “how” tidbits that might help you get started:
- By being away from your office, you reduce the amount of distractions you will have during your meeting.
- Creativity and inspiration are often jumpstarted by a change of scenery.
- Reduces guilt! Many of us feel like “slackers” if we take ten minutes to get up from our desk, walk around and stretch our legs. Walking meetings help you feel like you are not “wasting” time yet you are still getting up and getting that blood flowing.
- People speak more freely when there is reduced fear of being overheard or interrupted.
- A walking meeting sets an unspoken start and stop time which will reduce idle chatter and off topic discussions.
- Your boss not the type to get on board? Then don’t suggest that your meeting with him/her be a walking meeting. Instead, request permission to take your direct report/intern/colleague for a walking meeting.
- Bring your phone so your boss feels he/she can reach you while you are out but encourage others to leave all distractions back at their desk. INCLUDING their cell phones.
- Limit the meeting to 2-3 people to assure focus, no side chats and assure everyone can hear the conversation.
- Map out your route beforehand (indoors or out) to keep the walk focused on the meeting topic and not on “should we go left or right?” Use the same route for every walking meeting so that your partners become familiar with it.
I hope this minimized some of the “weird” that surrounds walking meeting. Give it a try! Already a fan? Tell us some of your walking meeting stories either in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
Thanks as always~
In just one week, I’ll be arriving in Chicago for my first time at BlogHer, the largest women’s blogging conference! And to add to the excitement (stress), I’m a speaker! BlogHer ’13 will have 6000 attendees so it’s huge. And I don’t know any of them! But a LOT of them know each other. The blogging world is pretty close-knit. Some of these attendees have known each other online for years.
I’m no stranger to conferences this big. I often attend the ASTD ICE – the largest training conference in the world with 8-10k attendees each year. And if you’ve followed me at Red Feather Networking you know that many of the networking techniques we teach were discovered at a conference like this. Here are a few of the techniques I’ll be using to make some space for myself in this huge conference.
Reading Blogs of other Attendees
Since this is a blogging conference, you can be sure that every attendee has a blog. Once of the easiest ways to learn more about my fellow attendees is to read them! I have found some of the most amazing blogs this way. My feed reader is now full of posts from mom-bloggers, fashion-bloggers, and tech-bloggers. I’ve been so busy starting a new business, working full-time and being a mom and wife that I’ve seriously neglected my casual reading and exploring all of the great content out there. Two that I can recommend are Kludgy Mom and Suburban Turmoil.
Participating in the Twitter Feed
The twitter feed for this conference is heating up! Not only have I gotten some excellent tips from people like @InThePowderRoom (who was down-and-dirty-honest about things) I’ve put out a video to show attendees what my Move Your Blog to WordPress session will be like, and I’ve also pushed out some “sneak peaks” of my slide presentation. I am feeling a bit lost in the feed. After all, many of these bloggers already know each other and have been attending this conference for years.
Photo Business Cards
For this conference, I did something with my business cards that I NEVER thought I’d do. I put my picture on them. And not just a tiny little head shot. I made the entire card my picture! I’m very self-conscious about pictures of myself, so hitting that “Order” button took a serious amount of courage. But now that they’ve arrived and I can hold them in my hands I’m much more confident. Because I ordered from MOO Business Cards (Disclaimer: This is an affiliate link) I was able to get two different photos in the same pack. Thanks to CARTERelite Studios, these pictures are truly me. And you can’t go wrong when you are being genuinely authentic.
Planning My Intro Strategy
This one is the most difficult for me. In spite of my extroverted communication style, at heart I am very much an Introvert. I’m not comfortable in large crowds and I find it difficult to strike up conversations with random people. However, I’ve learned that every time I push myself in this type of situation I meet AMAZING people. Some of whom become my closest friends. And I’m ready with the following tactics:
- I’ll simply say hello. This is often the hardest part for me. There are so many people who are NOT open to talking with random strangers. Which in normal everyday life could be a good thing. But at a large conference being open to the people around you only adds to the experience. So while I expect that some of these convo attempts will fizzle out, I won’t let that discourage me from striking up the next conversation with that person next to me.
- Noshing and Networking. Food can be an excellent bonding experience! I love walking up to a semi-full table and asking “Is this seat taken?” Occasionally I’ve sat with a tight-knit group who had no interest in including me in the conversation. But more often I’ve found some new friends this way.
- I will be liberal with the compliments. I can already tell from the pre-conference buzz that I’m going to see some serious fashion at this conference. I’m not going to hold back. If I find myself admiring this dress or that pair of shoes, I’m going to say it out loud! Honest compliments not only make the receiver feel good about themselves, but can be a great way to start a conversation.
Amazingly enough, presenting at my session is the thing I’m the least nervous about! Presenting is my sweet spot! I am so passionate about WordPress, and I’ve been on stage in one form or another for the past 20 years that it doesn’t faze me. I’m incredibly excited about showing bloggers what WordPress can do and how to make it happen.
If you’re going to BlogHer ’13, I hope you’ll find me and say hello! And I’d love to hear some more veteran or newbie tips so please leave me a note in the comments.
Networking is all about communication. You’re communicating not just with the things you actually say, but with the clothes you wear, the actions you take, and the way you move. Truly effective communicators understand how all of these things work together to build a consistent personal brand. Not only does your body language impact the message you give, but in the Ted Talk below, Amy Cuddy explains how our body language can actually impact our own feelings about ourselves. If you’re looking for a way to boost your confidence when networking and interacting with others, check out what Amy has to say about your body language. Give it a shot and let us know if it makes a difference for you!
I want to share a story with you that was the inspiration for this blog post.
A couple of weeks ago I was helping a friend do some stuff at her parents vacation home. As we sat on the front porch, I couldn’t help but notice a dark green antique bench. She must have seen me admiring it because without being asked she quietly said, “you have no idea how many miles that bench has traveled….thousands and thousands.”
I paused to try to figure out what she meant. Her family was born and raised in the area so I was a bit confused. Again, without prompting, she said, “That bench was my grandfathers. He worked at the railroad station most of his life. When the station was renovated, he brought that old bench home. My sisters and I sat on that bench for more hours than I can count and traveled the world. It was a car, bus, boat, horse and of course a train.”
I was so moved by watching her relive that fond memory. Not only the memory of her grandfather but also the memory of the hours she spent with her sisters traveling the world in their imagination. Making up characters, dialogs and adventures.
That was weeks ago and her story has stuck with me. At the risk of sounding old, I have been reflecting on the way kids played in “my day.”
If you are like me, you played outside the majority of the daylight hours. There were no gadgets or gizmos. There was chalk for drawing & hopscotch, bats & balls, dolls & strollers, bikes with baseball cards in the spokes and friends & imagination. We learned to interact and connect. We learned to ask for what we wanted, introduce ourselves to new kids, settle arguments and look each other in the eyes.
I can’t help but wonder what the effects will be on the children of technology. Our “Gen Z” kids (born 2000 – present) are born into a high tech and highly “connected” world. They do not know life without things like the internet, instant messaging, email, text messaging, iPods, smart phones and tablets. Don’t get me wrong. This is not a bad thing- just different. Road trips now consist more of movie watching than playing “eye spy” or “find the different license plates”. In any restaurant you will see more electronics at the table (including parents on their cell phones) and less tic-tac-toe on the back of the placemat.
Many years from now, when our kids are the new batch of employees, employers, entrepreneurs, mompreneurs and professionals, how will they fair when it comes to networking? Will they struggle with one on one communication? Will eye contact make them uncomfortable? Will critical thinking skills be high but empathic listening suffer? OR…..
Will they be sharper than all the generations before them? Will technology be the glue that binds them? Will networking as we know it fail to exist?
Only time will tell.
As for me, I will continue to love technology, learn something new every day, network both face-to-face and digitally… all while telling my kids how I did it in the “good old days.”
I’d love to hear your comments….
Thanks for reading!