Over the last few years I’ve met people that swear by social media saying that they never have to go to another in-person networking event. I’ve also met my share of people who feel that social media is merely a distraction with no real value. How do I feel? Well, given that I offer courses in both traditional networking and social media I’m sure you can tell that I believe there’s value in both. And like most things in life, where you get the most benefit will depend on your situation. I will say that completely discounting either method of making new connections is a mistake. I have had successes using both methods and I know many others that have as well.
You have a lot to say and are enthusiastic about what you have to say, yet you’re lacking one key ingredient – no one can understand you because you mumble. You may mumble and not even be aware of it – although a good indicator is when people are always asking you to repeat yourself because they didn’t hear or understand what you said.
Mumbling is caused by a number of things such as trying to talk too fast, not opening your mouth all the way while speaking, blocking your mouth, not speaking loud enough, or having a dry or sore mouth. Unless there is something physically wrong with your mouth, the key to dealing with mumbling is practice. Just like people can control their stuttering with practice, a little effort and awareness goes a long way with mumbling. Here are two easy ways to deal with mumbling.
Read out loud:
Yesterday, we talked about how to get someone prepped for a conversation so today we’ll get to the meat of it – what to say. This is where many people find the most difficulty so let’s jump right into it.
5. Comment about the situation.
This is the essence of small talk. Mention the weather, make a comment about the place that you’re at, talk about the lengthy wait or whatever other reason you can think of that builds some commonality with the person you’re about to converse with. You’re both somewhere for a reason so if you’re waiting for a train, a doctor, service for your car or waiting in line, you both have that in common. If the weather is unusually nice or there’s something pleasant about the situation you’re in, mention that.
Networking is something that’s both easy and natural for us to do. We network with people practically every day (and most of the time, we don’t realize it). Yet when we’re at a formal networking event, something as basic as starting a conversation seems like a big challenge and many people walk away from networking events feeling like they accomplished nothing.
Part of the problem is that many people just don’t understand how to network. I’ve been going to networking events for about a decade and some of the things that haven’t seemed to change are the mistakes people make. Here are some of the big ones that you should try to avoid: