(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~
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.
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!
I crashed a conference this week. It wasn’t intentional – I didn’t start out the day thinking, “I wonder how I can interact with new people today.” But it worked to my favor, and started opening my eyes.
I work in a downtown area connected to the city’s convention center. We regularly make the trek from our office building to the food court at the convention center for lunch. Today, I was standing in line at a vendor while the crowd from the convention was bustling around me. It had already been a particularly hectic week, and the crowd was an unpleasant surprise because I was in a bit of a hurry. I was completely focused on choosing my lunch when I heard a voice behind me.
“Are you having a good time today?”
I initially didn’t turn around, because I was sure that question wasn’t for me. When I didn’t hear a response follow the question, I glanced back and saw a young smiling face. He was wearing a conference badge around his neck.
“Well, yeah, I guess. I’m working today. So as much fun as you can have working, I’m having it.”
Despite my less-than-engaging answer, we chatted for a few minutes. This was a music educator’s convention – something I don’t do as a career, but I am a former music major and can relate to their passion for music and performance. In the span of time it took to place our orders, I learned this person was just beginning his college career, what instrument he played (and what instruments he wanted to learn to play), and what types of sessions he was attending at the conference. Just a brief conversation, but this was probably more than I learn about people on my work floor in a week’s time.
The co-worker I had walked with to get our lunch met up with me after gathering her meal, and said someone had asked her the same question. It must be a challenge they were issued as part of the conference, I thought. Sounds like an interesting way to get people to interact, and a sneaky version of the dreaded ice breakers.
As I was crossing the street back to my daily grind, it hit me. This encounter was actually a great teaching moment, and I had practiced my conference skills without knowing it. I’m not the best at starting a conversation with strangers. When I’m feeling particularly energized, I can work up the courage to blurt out a few quips to someone in the elevator about the weather, but starting a conversation is a little (okay, more than a little) nerve racking. I stumbled into a great networking experience at last year’s ASTD ICE, and found it easy to interact with folks I had ‘met’ through social media, but starting up a conversation in the sessions was a whole different story. And since last year’s conference, I felt I was getting worse at it. Almost to the point of wondering how I was going to meet new people this year.
This chance encounter with a random stranger has opened my eyes to the possibilities in my own back yard. How often do I wait in lines with people who might be willing to chat for just a few minutes? What could I learn if I just open up to the possibility we have something in common? And what fun would it be if I could expand my network even further into my community?
If I run into him again, I’ll have to let that young man know he was already a successful educator. But only after I practice my scales.
Sometimes, making connections with people who have a solid online presence like a blog can be a bit intimidating. It’s not always easy to just walk up and introduce yourself to someone you follow and admire. Here is one great tactic that you can use to connect with that person in a very safe, secure, and low risk way. Comment on their blog.
If you have a blog, you instantly get it. Even if your blog gets a good amount of traffic, it can sometimes feel like you’re pouring your ideas and feelings out into a big black hole of nothingness, day in and day out. When in fact, people are reading and connecting with your ideas. They just aren’t telling YOU about it! When someone you don’t know makes a comment on your writing, it’s like payday. It’s proof that your writing has meaning – even if the commenter doesn’t agree with your ideas.
As a reader, it’s very rare that you don’t have some kind of reaction from reading a blog post. You get to the bottom of the article, you pause for a moment to have a reaction. And then – click! – you’re on to the next article or blog.
That’s the moment when you can take a second to start or strengthen a relationship with the blogger. Many bloggers will comment back to you, but even if they don’t I promise that they’ve read your comment and are taking note.
So what should you write in a comment? Well, write whatever you’re thinking after you read the post. Do you agree with the blogger’s point of view? Did you think of something they missed? Are they way off base and you can explain why? That’s what you should write.
So the next time you read a blog post, pay attention to your reaction. What are you thinking about the post? Click in that comments section and write a little note to the author. DO IT! It’s a surefire way to open up lines of communication and let them know that their words are NOT going into a black hole. That you are reading and appreciating their work. Here’s your homework – stop right now and leave me a comment!
Note: Ironically, the comments on our site broke just when this article was posted! They are up and running now, but if you have any issues, please email me at email@example.com.