Networking

Have a Communication Fear? Here’s What To Do About it

If you’re like most people, you probably feel some sort of discomfort speaking to groups or going up to someone you don’t know and introducing yourself. As you can imagine, you’re certainly not alone as you’d be surprised at how many people are deathly afraid of either of these situations. But the good news is that there are things that you can do to deal with your fears – and they’re not as scary as you might expect them to be.

Practice makes perfect:

Networking Success: Three Reasons People Fail at Networking Events

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:

Should You Share Your Dreams and Aspirations?

There’s a short story I read in the first grade called “William’s Wish” that has somehow stuck in my head throughout the years. The story is about young boy who has a wish (a rather simple one) and tries all the various methods of getting his wish to come true. Since I only read this story once (and that was in 1981), I don’t remember the exact details of the story, but he did things such as wish on a star and followed a few other superstitions until his wish finally came true. Now the reason this story stuck in my head is that had he just told his parents his wish, it would have come true a lot sooner.

You Can’t Please Everyone

I once heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. Well I’d like to add a second definition: trying to please everyone. Trying to make everyone in a group happy ranges from difficult to impossible and the only guarantee you have is that you’ll wish you never tried.

This topic comes up frequently in both my public speaking and networking classes as people are concerned about what others think. I think we all have a natural tendency to focus on the audience members that aren’t paying attention to us during a speech or the folks at a networking event that say “it was nice to meet you – I see a client on the other side of the room” immediately after you introduce yourself.

Public Speaking Sucess: Free Public Speaking Workshop

This Saturday, I will be hosting a free public speaking workshop at Tatnuck Booksellers in Westborough, MA. I do a couple of free public events each year to help spread the word about public speaking and communication skills. For more details on the event, please visit http://www.jvf.com/services/events/2008-10-tatnuck.asp.

This event is not a sales pitch (the agreement I have with the venue does not allow me to sell anything at the event), it’s a scaled down version of what I teach at my full day workshops and in my courses. At this event, I’ll cover the basics of public speaking including:

Dressing for Success

Business dress code - photo courtesy of Penny MathewsWhether you’re at a job interview, attending a networking event or giving a speech, it’s important that you dress appropriately. I’ve seen fashion faux pas in business situations that have actually shocked me: from the person that I interviewed who was dressed more casually than me to person at a networking event who was dressed like he was meeting Cinderella at the grand ball.

Appropriate dress is always in the eyes of the beholder and inappropriate dress can often cause negative perceptions about you before you even open your mouth. Three’s no hard and fast rule such as all job interviews require formal dress or all networking events require business dress as I’ve seen several situations where events that traditionally require formal dress requested casual dress and vice versa.

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