Susan RoAne, (The Mingling Maven®) Guest Author –
In the main ballroom, they listened in rapt attention as the senior vice president described their mandate: “Stop relying on technology to communicate with clients and increase your number of face to face meetings with them.”
Over a thousand consultants of a Big Four consulting firm gathered in Florida from all over the world for a global conference, networking and golf. The attendees were cell phone wearing, laptop carrying, BlackBerry® holding adults of varying ages who were hearing that they now needed to adopt an in-person component to their business communication. I was there to teach them how to start, build and maintain conversations and connections so that they could grow their business practices. Many of the attendees were uncomfortable with the prospect of meeting the face–to–face mandate.
In Person Communication Counts
Although we live in a 24/7, online, digital world, the ability to interact and connect “real time” and in-person is increasingly important. Why? Because being able to do so has become increasingly rare. As more people circumvent face–to–face opportunities, those who capitalize on them will stand out from the crowd in both their professional and social lives. You can be one of them!
A survey of 4,125 MBA recruiters (Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2006) confirms the body of research that has appeared over the last two decades, which identify the top leadership attributes of sought-after job candidates: interpersonal and communication skills. In a recent 2010 study of 863 C Suite executives sponsored by The Economist Intelligence Unit, over two thirds indicated that in-person is imperative and in the long run, saves money.
Another Perspective: The FBI Dilemma
Pat, a long time member of the FBI, confirmed how important face- to- face and real time connections are. “The younger investigators are technically brilliant; they can research and ferret out the most pertinent and intricate bits of information online. They text message and are resourceful digital experts. However, we’ve noticed they avoid using their phones to talk to people and don’t schedule meetings with potential informants. Because of that, they don’t have the sources every agent needs in the field. Believe me, the people we need to be sources aren’t texting. It’s a dilemma.”
No matter how many text messages or emails we send and receive, online global conferences and webinars we attend, Skype calls we make or blogs we read and write, we also need to be comfortable and confident in in-person situations whether it’s one-on-one or in a group or crowd.
That’s why I wrote Face To Face. Whether it’s an interview, a client presentation, a business lunch, a division meeting or a friend’s wedding, we need to know how to interact, how to behave and how to connect with others in a diverse shared social space.
Shying Away From Being Shy
Every day newspapers contain stories that show that we’re at a national loss for words… that are uttered in the presence of others. The national average of those of us who self-identify as shy has increased from eighty percent in 1985 to ninety-three percent in 2000. Dr. Philip Zimbardo, a founder of the Stanford Shyness Clinic, attributes this major increase to “the use of technology.” However, many situations that we encounter on a daily basis -in both our professional and personal lives- require what is known as “face time” – those in-person moments where we have to communicate, whether it’s with the local barista, our hairstylist, our boss, our coworkers or employees, our clients, the auto mechanic, our professor or even our cousins.
Facing Face To Face
What can we do to get better? Much like the answer to the classic question: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.
A game plan to work any room in-person:
• RSVP and say “Yes” to meetings, conferences, gatherings, fund-raisers, business mixers.
• Do Due Diligence and Prepare. Check out websites, google or Bing names of sponsors, members, speakers, attendees.
• Prepare a 7-9 second self-introduction that is an engaging pleasantry.
• Read the news… whether online or in print. Read both local and national coverage so that you can be knowledgeable and conversant. (That includes sports, entertainment, book reviews and restaurant/food features).
• Prepare 3-5 items in case you get stuck for subjects of interest.
• Leave your Bluetooth and gizmos and gadgets out of sight.
• Approach those alone or groups of three or more who sound and look like they are having a good time.
• Go to have a good time… and you will.
“Rinse and repeat” every chance you get and you will become at ease in the face-to-face space!
Special Note from Larry James: I just finished reading “Fact to Face: How to Reclaim the Personal Touch in a Digital World.” Wow! Susan has written another winner! If there ever was a Mingling Maven®… Susan is it. Serious about business networking? You need to have this book on your book shelf! Seriously!
Copyright 2011 – Susan RoAne – Reprinted with permission. Susan RoAne is the leading authority and original expert on how to work a room. She is a speaker and author who has worked trade shows, conventions, planes, and the bleachers at Wrigley Field, and taught others to do the same. Her latest book, Face to Face, is out and her other books include How to Create Your Own Luck: The You Never Know Approach to Networking, Taking Chances, and Opening Yourself to Opportunity, How to Work a Room and The Secrets of Savvy Networking. To learn more call 415-239-2224. For further information: www.SusanRoAne.com, or e-mail @: Susan@SusanRoAne.com
Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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