Learning to network starts in the most uncomfortable of places. I am an extroverted introvert, which really just means that until you get to know me and I open up to you, you’ll most likely think I’m a stuck-up prude. But if you know me, I can be outgoing and personable; if the timing is right. Still for some, not so much.
The truth is, life is short and time passes way too quickly. And there are far too many things pulling at us from all directions. I get sucked into my introverted self when there are deadlines to meet or when a situation is just within the outer limits of my comfort zone. To give off that extroverted or even warm personality, I have to be extremely conscious of my communication style; body language, word choice, tone and genuine interest.
The Gift of Gab
Ireland plays host to an overabundance of spectacular entities; gorgeous castles, landscapes, beer, leprechauns and is a neighbor to the birthplace of my favorite Disney princess, Merida. One such commodity hosted by Ireland is found at the Blarney Castle. Folklore will tell you that a simple kiss of The Blarney Stone will grant you the gift of gab. Why? See for yourself!
Would stand to reason that if they say that your net worth is your network, then those who kiss the Blarney Stone most certainly have found the gold at the end of the rainbow. Cha-ching for you if you have the gift of gab and can pull others into your cause.
The gift of gab loosens tensions and tears through emotional walls and should be used for genuine connections and motivation. And even without that trip to Ireland, we can hone those gabbing skills.
1. Speak what you know
When I was a songwriter, my writer friends and I would say that eventually, everyone writes what they know. Because writing anything else seems forced. To have a genuine and productive conversation means having knowledge concerning, and experience with the topic at hand. Speak from your specialized knowledge on the subject and the conversation will not only be less forced and awkward but will build a connection between you and your audience.
But remember, there is no way that anyone can be an expert on every topic. And that’s the point. If you are not caught up in the affairs of the topic at hand, it’s best to ask probing questions and show interest than it is to act like a Mr./Mrs. know it all and gibberish your way through the conversation.
Instead, speak to what you know. Get caught up on current affairs prior to a said topic if possible. Know the audience of the group or person with which you are attempting to make the connection and do your homework. If you can’t speak out of knowledge of the topic, do the very least of showing interest with relevant and smart questions.
2. Listen more than you speak
A wise man never thought himself so and he never had to “prove” to others that he was wise by speaking over everyone in the room. It’s proven fact that people like to talk. So we should shut up every once in a while and let someone else do the talking. Especially if we are trying to up our communication game. Many times it’s what we don’t say that speaks the loudest.
So, listen with the intent of understanding, not just with the intent of replying to the speaker. Listening will teach you more about the one doing the talking, will create a connection with a said person and will create a genuine emotional response. When purpose and decision are backed by emotion, it’s far more powerful than simply bending someone’s thoughts to yours. And there is far greater to gain when there are a mutual understanding and benefit.
So, truly listen. Then when space and conversation open up for a reply, you will know what to say based on your previous decision to listen to what is being said and can reply in a relevant and productive manner. Again, sans gibberish.
There is so much to learn from others. Their perspective, experience, and story are woven into the fabric of life, just as is yours. Take the trip in their shoes for a minute. And enjoy.
As above, a wise man never thought himself so. Chill out and enjoy the conversation. We all make mistakes, and sometimes we tend to slur our words, stutter, mispronounce certain words and misunderstand the definitions of others. We get ahead of ourselves and our thoughts by trying to impress. Don’t be afraid to join the conversation, but also don’t be discouraged if you make mistakes. With humility and humor pick back up where you left off and carry on brave soldier.
Approaching such with humility shows character and confidence, of which attracts others to you. And the law of attraction takes over.
4. Eye Contact
There is a line from the movie Avatar that I love, I say it with the kids often: “I see you.” And it goes a little further than I see you standing there. It means that we see the kids and acknowledge who they are, why they are here and find appreciation and joy for and in them.
When your speaking with others, embody that energy. Acknowledge the existence of others and their reason for being present. Keep your eye contact and mind focussed on that connection. There’s plenty more time in the day for everything else that wants to run through your head.
Just make sure you don’t linger your eye contact too long, that could be weird.
Additionally if there is more than one person, bring everyone in to the topic at hand by making eye contact across the entire room and with as many people as possible. It’s fun. You will notice people’s interest and posture change as they come into the conversation with you and the group.
5. Don’t take yourself too seriously
At 8 and 10 years old, our kids have become their own little humans with their own personalities and perspectives. Right now everything they do is out of curiosity and they find humor in everything. They don’t take themselves too seriously and because of that they bounce back from embarrassment, failure and rejection more easily. They loosen up the grip on themselves and continue to have a growth mindset.
As an adult, I swear meeting humans is just like meeting any other animal; they smell fear a mile away and will pounce on the weakest of the herd. So, don’t show fear. Loosen up and give zero f____ about it. Anyone you have to talk to is just a human. No Gods among us. Tell your story and the right people respond. If you are going through the above stages of basically, being genuinely interested, you won’t have a mess on your hands unless you just have a mess of a person in front of you. And if the latter is the case, continue to not take yourself to seriously and this to shall pass.
In summary of part one:
- Be genuine
- Be genuinely interested
- Don’t take yourself too seriously