Learning to network starts in most uncomfortable places. I can be what I call an extroverted introvert. To those that know me, they would describe me as outgoing and personable. Still for some, not so much.  The truth is, life is short and time passes way too quickly.  There are far too many things pulling at us from all directions and I can get sucked into my introverted self when there are deadlines to meet or when a situation is just outside 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.

Luckily the gift of gab can be learned even without a trip to the famous Blarney Stone!

Part 1 in review:

Read part one here

  • 1. Speak what you know – don’t fake knowledge you don’t have, speak from experience and comfort
  • 2. Listen more than you speak – listen with the intent of understanding, not with the intent of replying
  • 3. Humility – a wise man never thought himself so, approach topics with confidence and humility, don’t be arrogant
  • 4. Eye Contact – be interested, make eye contact, but not too much eye contact
  • 5. Don’t take yourself too seriously – loosen up and the conversation will loosen up with you

Part 1 take aways:

  • Be genuine
  • Be genuinely interested
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously

Once we establish a quinine interest and loose up our grip on life, the laws of attraction come into play. It is just a matter of telling your story and the right people will respond.  Don’t sweat the small stuff and if a certain audience, relationship or job isn’t doing it for you, it’s okay to move on. With over 7 billion people in the world with all types of weird personalities from want to vampires to wall street bankers, there is an audience (group/niche/market/community) for everyone.  I truly believe that once we start speaking from a place of knowledge and a place of being genuine, we will attract the right people.

6. When in Rome, do as the Romans do

By listening intently, as mentioned in part I, you start to get an understanding of your audience, (person or persons with whom you are talking). Make sure to take mental notes of their tone, their behavior their mannerisms and mirror these things enough to make a connection.  Mirroring behavior is not a form of copycat or being ‘fake,’ rather it’s a way of helping those around you feel comfortable in the space that is now occupied by the two (or more) of you.

This is called sensitivity training and knowing this can help you connect with others. If the person you are speaking with is full of energy, match their energy, so you aren’t mistaken for having apathy for the conversation. If the person with whom you are speaking is soft-spoken and inquisitive, being boisterous and talking over them will most likely put them off.  Interaction is all about mingling with other people, do as the Romans do genuinely and you’ll fit in just fine.

7. Create some Deja vu

Déjà vu (Listeni/ˌdʒɑː ˈv/; French pronunciation: ​[deʒa vy]) from French, literally “already seen”, is the phenomenon of having the strong sensation that an event or experience currently being experienced has already been experienced in the past.[1][2][3][4] Déjà vu is a feeling of familiarity, and déjà vécu (the feeling of having “already lived through” something)[5] is a feeling of recollection.[6]

My daughter has picked up the strange habit of mine where I ‘replay’ events and conversations in my mind, and admittedly sometimes out loud. Many times these are events and conversations that have yet to happen. However, as much as we hate it, we are all naturally judgmental and replaying events and conversations, (had or not yet had), is a way for me to step out of myself and either prep for an upcoming conversation or break down and learn from a past one. Also, as the definition of Deja vu suggests, it gives me a feeling of familiarity with the situation in which I can be more prepared and comfortable in the future.

8. Mind your body language

There’s a saying that actions speak louder than words.  It is because of this, no matter what we think we are saying through our voice, we must mind pouring body language.  Simple body stances and facial expressions go a long way to welcoming someone into your space and display confidence in your presence. Open up your body. In other words; don’t make yourself small in the space, don’t slump your shoulders, or try to occupy as little space as possible. These actions not only make you look intimidated, but they also make you look rather invisible. You don’t want to be invisible or non-memorable when trying to make connections or communicate with others effectively.  Uncross your arms and point your body toward those with whom you are speaking to invite them into space. Flash a smile, open your arms, use your hands when speaking to fill the void between you and the speaker.  Make sure you are relaxed and comfortable in the space, then your audience will be as well.

9. Watch and Learn

There must be at least one or two people in your life you have listened to when they’re at a public gathering or in private conversations that left impressions with you or made you feel so comfortable you felt that you immediately had good energy together. Remember that, humans don’t buy into products or even causes, they buy into other people. You have bought into other people a hundred times over in your career. As others win you over, be taking mental notes and store them in your bag of soft skills. What draws others in? What pushes them away?  Deconstructing how others interact and what works for them can help you in your approach so that you can connect with not only more people but varying types of people. Watch and learn from those around you.

10. Preparation is Key

If you have time before meeting someone, speaking publicly/privately or simply attending a meeting; prepare, prepare prepare.  Know the subject at hand and know who will be in attendance. Most people have a hard time filling long pauses, getting conversations going or making those first connections. Stay up to date on current affairs, research the organization, the person, the event you are attending and anything else that may be relevant, so you are prepared to join in discussions, or even start them.  After preparing, be comfortable with what you know and enjoy the chance to connect.

Wrapping it up

In the end, finding the gift of gab is really about looking around the room, reading where others are in their level of comfort and knowledge, matching and meeting where they are and then pulling it all in together so that the conversation can have a meaningful interaction. It sounds harder than it is, and taking a bullet point one at a time to throw into your daily interactions, will get you there in no time. Add each bullet point as you conquer the last one. And remember, the goal of interaction should be a connection. If you are truly attempting the connection and guiding the conversation, then half the battle is already in the bag.

Final takeaways:

  • Be genuine
  • Be genuinely interested
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously
  • Bring others into the conversation through mirroring tone and opening up body language
  • Prepare your thoughts and know ahead of time where possible