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!
Here is a question for you. Why do we generally wait for the other guy to make the first move? Let me tell you what I mean by that – You are at an event/gathering/meeting/coffeehouse wherever – you strike up a conversation with someone who you really think you connect with. Why do we wait to see if they are going to suggest the next step? Are we afraid that they may not find us intriguing? Probably.
What do you have to lose? After all, only one of two things can happen. Either you find out that they are interested as well OR you find out that they are not. I don’t know about you but I prefer to know. Here are three things you should try:
- If you are standing around at an event – why be uncomfortable. Why not say “I see an empty table. Want to grab a seat and continue this conversation?” This not only makes for a more relax environment to talk in but it also shows you are enjoying the conversation and that you are interested in learning more about them.
- Have they mentioned something in conversation that you can help with? If so, offer to reach out to them after the event. Why not say “I read a white paper on that not too long ago. I would be happy to send it to you. I think you will find it has a lot of useful information in it.” DO NOT FORGET. No matter how small a promise you make, delivering on that promise shows that you are reliable and starts to build trust.
- Come right out and say it. “Wow, I am really enjoying this conversation. So glad we met. Here is my card – would you be interested in getting together for lunch sometime to continue this talk?”
I know, fear of rejection is a real concern but again what do you have to lose? So go ahead and put yourself out there the next time you meet someone that you definitely want to keep in your network. You will be glad you did.
Thanks for reading ~
It looks like Facebook is going to be rolling out a(nother) new timeline. I tried to do some preliminary research to help make it clearer so when it happens we all won’t be wondering “what the hell”. It is a lot of information but here is what I have so far….
They are doing away with the staggered post timeline (thank goodness). Your status updates and posts will be down the right hand side of the page. All other sections such as your “About”, “Friends”, “Photos” etc. will be more extensive and down the left. I hear they are also adding a new “instagram” section as well.
Facebook is going to be pushing you to fill out more of your profile content. There will be “call to actions” that will prompt you to fill in any empty sections such as Movies, Music, Books etc. The interesting part is that with the Music, Movies, TV Shows, and Books sections, there will be new “Watched,” “Want to Watch,” “Read,” and “Want to Read” tabs in addition to “Likes” for those sections.
You will notice that the Photos, Friends, and Places sections have been redesigned and organized in a way that makes switching between content easier and the content will be broken down to make it more user friendly.
Facebook is going to suggest pages to “Like.” My understanding is that these recommendations will not be reflective of things you have “Liked” before but more from other sources. Here is what I can gather…. Facebook has caught on to the fact that most of us “Like” a page because we are trying to win a contest, support a local business or simply because a friend asked us to in order to get their “Like” number higher. That means, when Facebook is trying to sell advertisements and trying to pinpoint who will most likely buy the product advertised… our “Likes” really may not be what our interests are at all. They are going to instead focus on our interests from our “want,” “watch,” “read” and other profile information so they can get a better feel for our desires and activities. Knowing that now makes the call-to-action prompts to fill out these sections more understandable. By doing this, they can provide us with more targeted ads which in turn will most like boost ad revenue for Facebook. I’m still not sure who this whole thing is going to play out and I hope to find out more about it through my research.
So that is it for now. I will update you with me when I discover more. If you have any additional information PLEASE add it to the comments below… help a sister out. J
Thanks for reading~
Kelly and I had the pleasure of attending Training Magazines Conference & Expo in Orlando, Florida. The conference was a great learning event as well as a fabulous networking event. I just wanted to share with you some of the highlights that confirmed many of the networking tips we have shared with you in the past:
- Let things happen organically: There is no reason to always feel “on”. By just meeting people and letting the conversation flow organically we were able to make great connections that we will have for a long time. Just like any other situation, a conversation that starts off with what city you traveled from will soon move to what other conferences you have attended, who you work for, what you do… without you forcing it. So relax and just enjoy the experience of getting to meet new people.
- Our network is your network: One of the best parts about a network is that you can share it with others. By really listening when people talk it is very easy to make introductions of people that you will know have something in common. Example: I knew that our friends at Legacy Business Cultures were going to CHART in San Diego and Miami this year. I met a person in the lounge who shared with me that he was going to CHART in Miami alone. Later that evening I was able to introduce the guys from Legacy to this gentleman. They had a great chat, plan on meeting up in Miami AND have discussed a possible business relationship. WIN WIN.
- Networking doesn’t have to happen in a suit: While organized networking events are a great way to get to know people – so is bumming around Disney in jeans and flip flops. The key is to not have an agenda. The only thing you should plan to do is have a great time, relax and let others see your fun side. Afterwards, when you are dead tired and lying in bed, you will be surprised at how much you learned about the people with whom you shared a giant turkey leg.
- It’s never “out with the old and in with the new”: While learning new things about new people is always exciting – it is even more exciting when you learn something new about someone you have known for years. This week I learned that my friend and business partner, Kelly, sings Opera. I also learned that Amber, a friend for years, lived in Italy. If you continue to learn about people, regardless of how long you have known them, you will NEVER have a dull conversation.
- Laughter doesn’t have a schedule: Laugh often, laugh loud and never apologize for it. From first thing in the morning, to traveling on the Disney bus, to walking the expo hall and at 2am in the hotel room…. There is never a wrong time to laugh. What? Not professional to carry on that way? Well, if those are the standards than I vow here and now to never be considered professional. Remember, people like doing business with people that they like and trust is built by being genuine. So go ahead and give into that giggle fit – it makes you human.
- Don’t over plan: Kelly and I use twitter all the time and this conference was no exception. A great night of making connections can be done with a simple tweet. We decided to tweet that we would be at the Laguna Bar at our hotel overlooking the water on Sunday night at 6pm before the official start of the conference on Monday. Weather made us have to change our location which we tweeted as well. The end result was a nice gathering of people from all over the US and Canada. Connections were made and friendships were formed. I am pretty certain I also heard talk of collaboration and business deals! Amazing what picking a place and posting some tweets can do.
I could go on and on about our time in Orlando but I think you get the picture. Networking is hard because we often make it hard… slow down… be yourself… let things happen. Remember, connections are made in both the organized and organic settings…. They are made in business suits and swimsuits…. they can be short term collaborations and long term friendships… all you have to do is be open minded, curious and engaged.
As always, thanks for reading~
It is Saturday morning and I am sitting in the hotel lobby in San Antonio, Texas. I am here celebrating my 28th wedding anniversary. This morning I decided to let my husband catch up on some much needed sleep while I sneak off to the lobby for some coffee, quiet time and writing before our hectic day of exploring. Let me sum this up in one word, FAIL!!!
Guess who is staying at our hotel? That’s right – a million squads of competitive cheerleaders all in the age range of 9 – 14. So there I am, sitting in the quiet, minding my own business when the elevator doors open and they swarm upon me like a plague of locusts. (Before I start getting hate email – I have nothing against cute little adorable cheerleaders (or their moms)).
An interesting fact about introverts: if you have read some of my previous blogs than you already know that introverts are drained of energy in social situations and need to plan accordingly. What you might not know is that introverts are drained of energy simply from being in a high energy environment. So while I was not chatting with these cheerleaders or doing cartwheels with them during their impromptu practice in the hotel lobby, I am simply exhausted from the non-stop excitement.
So other than entertaining you this morning – what purpose does my story serve? If you are an introvert, you need to keep this in mind when planning your involvement in networking events. If the event has a two hour cocktail social followed by a sit down dinner that is followed by a coffee/dessert social – you may want to come in at the tail end of the cocktail hour. Not only will it be a lot of interaction but it will also be an area of high energy, loud conversation and non-stop chatter. Plan accordingly.
Now if you will excuse me, It dawned on me today that my cartwheels could use some polish – Im a bit rusty.
Thanks for reading and why not make my day by saying hi on Twitter – you can find me at @chelelawson.
Some people just can’t get the concept that it is not all about them. Case in point: the woman sitting at the table next to me as I enjoy my breakfast this morning at our local bagel shop. Yes, this blog is being written in real time. I am going to share with you the no-no’s in the conversation that I cannot help but overhear:
- Talk so loud that no other conversation in the restaurant can compete. While no one WANTS to hear her discussion she leaves us no choice. I’m pretty sure her decibel level is registering in some scientists’ lab right now.
- Do 97% of the talking. At this point I have no idea if her breakfast companion even has a voice.
- Be as boastful as possible. Within five minutes I heard all about how she created a false ID for a friend, how she can party like a 20 year old although she is in her 30s and all about her athletic accomplishments.
- Place drop (similar to name dropping) – find a way to incorporate every place you have ever traveled too into your conversation.
- Interrupt as many times as possible. Once her companion decided to add a thing or two to the conversation it fell on deaf ears as she never got two consecutive sentences out without the being cut short.
- Ask a question and then answer it yourself, Her- “So what happened when you went to xyz?” (insert companion swallowing a sip of coffee before she answers) Her- “Because it seems to me that you decided to go blah blah blah”. Once she answered her own question she then changed the conversation focus back to herself.
- End the conversation with “Well I’m ready to go”…. No reason to be polite right? After all, why start now. I guess it would have been too out of character for her to say anything along the lines of “this was fun let’s do it again” or even “are you done – we really should head out”
I was so tempted to act like that medium on television that just sits down with people in restuarants to tell them about a spirit. Only I wanted to tell her about her networking skills. Of course I didnt – instead I just whipped out my laptop to tell you all about it. LOL.
SO there you have it – what NOT to do in a conversation with ANYONE EVER!!! Althought I'm certain I didnt have to tell you that.
PS: Thanks for having breakfast with me.