Socializing

Posts

,

Meetings in English are fine but the coffee breaks are terrifying

Martin, an IT Project Manager, was getting ready for a meeting with his European counterparts to review his bank’s IT security. As ever he was very well prepared so I was a little surprised when he confessed to being nervous. However, it was not the meeting itself that was worrying him – it was the coffee and lunch breaks. His nerves were due to having to “small talk”. Small talk is an essential element of building relationships.  Yes, the meeting is all about dealing with business and discussing the items on the agenda but it’s in the breaks in between where the relationships are forged.
Go to the eBook

Why do some people find small talk so hard?

When we run seminars on small talk and socializing in English we hear many reasons why people struggle when they have to make small talk. Some people don’t know what to say, some are afraid of saying the wrong thing, some don’t know how to start a conversation, some are scared that people will think they are boring, some people find small talk a waste of time…and the list goes on. All of these objections, and fears are magnified when we know we are going to have to do it in a foreign language.

You prepare for the meeting so prepare for the small talk!

If you are nervous or uncertain about what to say during the breaks – prepare for them. First of all identify topics that are safe and suitable for the event and the people attending.  Depending upon the culture you are speaking with “safe topics” may be different but in general you are on safe ground with the following:

  • The weather – The forecast says it’s going to rain for the next 2 days. What’s the weather like at this time of year in Cape Town?
  • The event itself – I particularly enjoyed this morning’s presentation on big data analytics. What did you think of it?
  • The venue – This is one of the best conference centres I’ve been to. What do you think of it?
  • Jobs – How long have you been working in data security?
  • Current affairs, but NOT politics – I see they’ve just started the latest trials on driverless cars. I’m not sure I’d want to travel in one. How do you feel about them?

Opening a conversations and keeping it flowing

If you are going to ask questions, when possible, ask open questions. An open question begins with a question word – what, why, where, when, how etc. and the person will have to answer with more than a simple yes/no answer. Open question elicits more information and helps the conversation to develop. Similarly if you are asked a question (closed or open), give additional information and finish with a question. This will keep the conversation flowing.

7 phrases for typical small talk situations

  • Hi, I don’t think we’ve met before. I’m Helena Weber from IT support in Ludwigsburg.
  • I’m ready for a cup of coffee. Can I pour you one?
  • I believe the restaurant here is excellent. Have you eaten here before?
  • What did you do before you joined the product management team?
  • Where are you from?
  • Did you see the story on the news about…?
  • It’s a while since I last saw you. What’s new?

Don’t forget

Your counterparts may well be as nervous as you are and will welcome your initiative in starting and joining in conversation with them.  You could be taking the first steps in developing new personal and business relationships

,

Book review: How to win friends and influence people

I’m sure a number of you have either heard of, or read, Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”.  It has been in circulation since 1936 and there is good reason for that. I know a lot of people say “Ah, that’s too American rah! rah! for me.” or “That is a bunch of self-help nonsense and should only be read by depressed salespeople!”  The fact is that the book is rather “human”. A lot of what is said applies to basic, human interaction and feelings that we all experience each day. That is the main reason this book has been around for so long as it relates to those both inside and outside of the business world.  Sure, there are some points made that are a bit of a stretch, and some that aren’t universally applicable, but once you sift through those there are a lot of great ideas from which business people can benefit.

Some interesting points from the book

There are many other great points in the book that relate to daily business situations. Here are just a few. (In this “Secret to Success” download, there’s a full overview of Dale Carnegie’s 30 principles from “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, and the principles from “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”.)

Talk in terms of other people’s interests

People love to talk about themselves.  Ask a few questions to get people talking about what they like, attentively listen, and then you will be surprised at how much they like you.  Do a little research on what the other person you are trying to influence likes and show some genuine interest before diving into the business issue.

Don’t criticize

It is easy to immediately tell someone they are wrong when they make a mistake.  This may lead to resentment or possibly hatred towards you.  Next time, take a minute to try to understand where they are coming from and why they see things the way they do.  Don’t point out your colleagues mistakes each time, but ask some questions and allow the person to come to the conclusion that it could be a bit better on their own.

Say a person’s name

Everyone likes to hear their name. Take time to learn people’s names and remember them no matter how “unimportant” they may seem to your immediate needs.  By knowing people’s names and saying hello in your client’s office, it could help you close the big deal as you would be surprised how valuable the opinions of others in a company are.

Smile

I know, you don’t want to walk around smiling all the time because you will feel fake and uncomfortable.  But try it a few more times a day when you normally wouldn’t and see how others respond.  You may be surprised.

Begin in a friendly way

Many times we start a discussion, call, or email with the issue we are trying to solve.  Take some time and make some small talk or say something complimentary before conducting business.  It will take people off the defensive and make it easier to have difficult conversations.  Next time you want to file a complaint or negotiate a lower price, reiterate the positives you have experienced with that company before asking for something.  Many people will be happy to help someone they perceive as being friendly and not aggressive.

Admit if you are wrong quickly

This is hard to do at times, but it goes a long way in getting the other person to see where you are coming from and then softening their stance when it comes to a disagreement.  If you know your boss is angry about a mistake you made, don’t try to come up with excuses but instead come right out and admit the fault and what you should have done.  They will respect you for it and most likely be less hard on you.

 

 

 

,

Key English language tips for before, during, and after your business lunch or dinner

target training

Before the meal

When you are hosting a business lunch/dinner, it is your responsibility to invite the person and check their preferences. Some people may have food allergies or religious beliefs that limit what they can eat, where they can eat, etc. When setting up your lunch or dinner, try some of these phrases in your emails, phone calls, or when speaking face to face:

followupemails

Invitations

  • Since you will be in town Tuesday night, I was hoping you would join me for dinner.
  • I would be delighted if you joined me for lunch on Wednesday.
  • Would you like to have lunch on Friday?
  • What are your plans Tuesday evening? How about dinner?
  • What do you say to grabbing dinner on Monday? My treat. (by using ‘my treat’ it means that you are telling your colleague that you will pay for their meal. An alternative is “it’s on me”)
  • How about we get some dinner after our meeting on Thursday?
  • I know a great sushi place in the center. Do you want to join me for lunch tomorrow?

Checking your colleague’s preferences

  • Which do you prefer: local German food, Indian, or pub food?
  • Do you have any preference on the type of restaurant? There’s a good German restaurant close. A Lebanese one. An American diner. What do you think?
  • Anything specific you would to like try while you are here?
  • I know a great little Italian restaurant close to the office. How does that sound?
  • I’d be happy to pick a place for us to eat. I know that sometimes we have certain types of food we prefer/or have to avoid. Is there anything specific you would like me to take into consideration when choosing a restaurant?
  • Just so I pick a place we both can enjoy, are there any types of food that you don’t eat?
  • What are you in the mood for? Korean? Steaks? Pasta?

During the meal

One of the keys of being a good host during a meal is making sure the conversation flows. It is a good idea to get the other person talking as this takes the pressure off you and people love talking about themselves. A great way to get people talking is to ask open questions, or a series of open and closed questions that build on each other. If you are asking a series of questions, the follow up questions shouldn’t sound forced and unnatural, and should build on the previous answer. You can then show that you are paying attention to what your colleague is saying by using confirmation statements and questions. Here are some suggestions that may help:

Conversation starters

  • So, what do you think about Germany so far?
  • Looking forward to the weekend? What do you have planned?
  • What are your holiday plans for this year?
  • I’ve never been to Boston. What would you suggest I do if I visit?
  • I have always been fascinated with Indian culture. What would you say the biggest challenge is for visitors to India?
  • I know you have only been in Germany for a week, but how does it compare with Brazil?
  • Do you follow football? What sports or hobbies interest you?
  • I’m sorry the weather has been so bad here in Germany. How is the climate in Shanghai?

Follow up statements/questions

  • What exactly do you mean by different customs?
  • And where else have you visited in Europe? Nice. What did you think about Madrid?
  • Tell me more about your school system in Sweden. That sounds really interesting.
  • That’s cool. How did you become interested in playing the guitar?
  • Really? Why is American football so popular?

Active listening/confirmation statements

  • I had no idea that skydiving was so common there. That is really fascinating.
  • So, you are saying that teenagers can drive a car when they are 15 years old? Wow!
  • Really? I didn’t know Americans don’t need a visa when they visit Europe.
  • Ok, I understand why you might think that is difficult.
  • How did you feel when that happened?
  • What did you say to him after that?

After the meal

Quite often, good ideas come up when you are discussing business out of the office. Also, promises are made to send someone something, contact someone, etc. It is usually a good idea to send a follow up email after your business lunch or dinner. This can be done the next day, or a few days after depending on what was discussed. It’s also polite, can help build rapport, and is a good way to remind both parties on what next steps need to be taken. Want some help with structuring and what to say in your follow up email? Download our one pager on Business lunch and dinner follow up emails.  You can find it by clicking on the ‘Follow Up Emails’ picture above in this post. 

So, the next time you have to host a colleague or client for dinner, don’t worry. It helps to do a little preparation by thinking about what you can do before, during, and after the meal to make sure you get the most out of your business meal. Guten Appetit!

,

Key English language tips for before, during, and after your business lunch or dinner

target training

I was recently coaching a department head in the automotive industry here in Germany. Before long, the topic of business lunches and dinners came up. We spent some time going through the following topics and quick tips.

Before the meal

When you are hosting a business lunch/dinner, it is your responsibility to invite the person and check their preferences. Some people may have food allergies or religious beliefs that limit what they can eat, where they can eat, etc. When setting up your lunch or dinner, try some of these phrases in your emails, phone calls, or when speaking face to face:

emails target training

 

Invitations

  • Since you will be in town Tuesday night, I was hoping you would join me for dinner.
  • I would be delighted if you joined me for lunch on Wednesday.
  • Would you like to have lunch on Friday?
  • What are your plans Tuesday evening? How about dinner?
  • What do you say to grabbing dinner on Monday? My treat. (by using ‘my treat’ it means that you are telling your colleague that you will pay for their meal. An alternative is “it’s on me”)
  • How about we get some dinner after our meeting on Thursday?
  • I know a great sushi place in the center. Do you want to join me for lunch tomorrow?

Checking your colleague’s preferences

  • Which do you prefer: local German food, Indian, or pub food?
  • Do you have any preference on the type of restaurant? There’s a good German restaurant close. A Lebanese one. An American diner. What do you think?
  • Anything specific you would to like try while you are here?
  • I know a great little Italian restaurant close to the office. How does that sound?
  • I’d be happy to pick a place for us to eat. I know that sometimes we have certain types of food we prefer/or have to avoid. Is there anything specific you would like me to take into consideration when choosing a restaurant?
  • Just so I pick a place we both can enjoy, are there any types of food that you don’t eat?
  • What are you in the mood for? Korean? Steaks? Pasta?

During the meal

One of the keys of being a good host during a meal is making sure the conversation flows. It is a good idea to get the other person talking as this takes the pressure off you and people love talking about themselves. A great way to get people talking is to ask open questions, or a series of open and closed questions that build on each other. If you are asking a series of questions, the follow up questions shouldn’t sound forced and unnatural, and should build on the previous answer. You can then show that you are paying attention to what your colleague is saying by using confirmation statements and questions. Here are some suggestions that may help:

Conversation starters

  • So, what do you think about Germany so far?
  • Looking forward to the weekend? What do you have planned?
  • What are your holiday plans for this year?
  • I’ve never been to Boston. What would you suggest I do if I visit?
  • I have always been fascinated with Indian culture. What would you say the biggest challenge is for visitors to India?
  • I know you have only been in Germany for a week, but how does it compare with Brazil?
  • Do you follow football? What sports or hobbies interest you?
  • I’m sorry the weather has been so bad here in Germany. How is the climate in Shanghai?

Follow up statements/questions

  • What exactly do you mean by different customs?
  • And where else have you visited in Europe? Nice. What did you think about Madrid?
  • Tell me more about your school system in Sweden. That sounds really interesting.
  • That’s cool. How did you become interested in playing the guitar?
  • Really? Why is American football so popular?

Active listening/confirmation statements

  • I had no idea that skydiving was so common there. That is really fascinating.
  • So, you are saying that teenagers can drive a car when they are 15 years old? Wow!
  • Really? I didn’t know Americans don’t need a visa when they visit Europe.
  • Ok, I understand why you might think that is difficult.
  • How did you feel when that happened?
  • What did you say to him after that?

A lot of keeping good meal conversation going is focused on small talk. For more information on small talk with native English speakers, check out our socializing with Americans eBook.

After the meal

Quite often, good ideas come up when you are discussing business out of the office. Also, promises are made to send someone something, contact someone, etc. It is usually a good idea to send a follow up email after your business lunch or dinner. This can be done the next day, or a few days after depending on what was discussed. It’s also polite, can help build rapport, and is a good way to remind both parties on what next steps need to be taken. Want some help with structuring and what to say in your follow up email? Download our one pager on business lunch and dinner follow up emails.

So, the next time you have to host a colleague or client for dinner, don’t worry. It helps to do a little preparation by thinking about what you can do before, during, and after the meal to make sure you get the most out of your business meal. Guten Appetit!

,

Not everyone’s a natural at small talk

small talk english

“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Do you prepare for small talk?

Not only natural small talkers are good at small talk. How much time do you spend preparing for a presentation? Let’s assume you don’t make those up as you go, why should it be different with small talk? Being a confident small talker means you need to be prepared and give some thought to what you can ask and say.

Knowing what to ask

When you are back in France visiting your colleagues at the local plant, recall prior conversations you had. What did you talk about in the past? Holidays, children, work, hobbies? Remembering specifics is great but not necessary. Perhaps you remember that your colleague told you they were going on holiday, but you forgot when and where. Ask something like, “The last time I saw you, you mentioned you were going on holiday. How was it?”





New Call-to-action


Knowing what to say

When you know you will be put in situation where you must make small talk, for example lunch with a client or visiting a project site, think about what contributions you can make. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What interesting books or movies have I read or seen recently?
  • What are my upcoming holiday or weekend plans?
  • What interesting places have I traveled to or visited recently?
  • What new projects am I excited about at work?
  • What new challenges am I facing at work?
  • What are my current hobbies?

Answering these questions to yourself will help prepare you with topics of conversation to share in small talk that you feel are safe. Try to have three or four experiences or contributions in mind before entering a small talk situation.

Remember what small talk is

“Every great romance and each big business deal begins with small talk. The key to successful small talk is learning how to connect with others, not just communicate with them.” Bernardo J. Carducci

It’s great to ask your small talk partner questions about themselves- it shows sincere interest. However, if you only ask questions and never share anything about yourself, it will sound like a job interview at best or an interrogation at worst. Try to strike a balance between listening and speaking.

For more small talk, here’s one I wrote earlier: Open up your small talk

Learning to listen: lessons from baseball, TED talks and an alien life form

listen target training

How well do you listen?

Sound matters. In work. In life. Sometimes we forget that. I heard a story recently that was told by a former Major League Baseball player. He talked about a manager he once played for. During practice, the manager would put players in the outfield with their backs to home plate. A batter would stand at home plate and have someone pitch the baseball to him. Baseball bats are made of wood and are roughly 30-34 inches long. The cork-filled, leather-covered ball is thrown anywhere from 80-100 miles per hour. The batter would swing the bat and hit the ball. Now here is the important part:

Free downloadalf

 

Because the player in the outfield had their backs to home plate they had to train their ear to know what part of the field the ball was travelling to, based on the sound created when the baseball made contact with the bat. If you’ve ever seen a baseball game (or cricket) you know you can hear when a ball is hit solidly. But you can’t determine where it is going to travel. This manager wanted his players to hear the contact, and make a split-second decision to race to the position they believed the ball was going, without even seeing it. With practice, players knew exactly where the hit ball was going.

They had to learn to listen.

Are we “losing our listening”?

TED, the great, freely accessible online source for learning, has what I think are two of the best talks around on how to achieve excellent communication. Both are by Julian Treasure, author of an excellent book on the impact sound has on our working lives called ‘Sound Business,’ and both are well-worth watching. In one, he talks about speaking well and in the other, the one I suggest below, he talks to us about listening.

Of his five tips on how to listen better, the final one – an acronym, of course – RASA, the Sanskrit word for ‘juice’ or essence’ is exactly that when it comes to business communication: listening is important, it’s the essence of effective business communication. RASA stands for:

Receive

That is, actually pay attention to what they’re saying.

Appreciate

By making natural small noises or utterances like, “ah” or “hmm” or “okay.” You may have also heard it referred to as active listening.

Summarise

Very crucial to all sorts of business communication, from presentations to negotiations and everything in between. Here it’s critical you are authentic and summarise what you heard – NOT what you wanted to hear.

Ask

And finally, ask questions. Find out more. Learn as much as you can about a situation, a trend, a project, a risk, or an opportunity.

ALF

Learning to listen starts with recognizing all the barriers we create for ourselves. This is where ALF comes in, and no, we’re not talking about the sitcom character that chased cats. ALF means Always Listen First. Julian Treasure warns us at the beginning of his TED talk that ‘we are losing our listening.’

Don’t lose yours. Listen like a Major League player. And Always Listen First.

Open up your small talk

job search target training

Great small talkers know that the key to creating meaningful and significant conversation is a matter of asking the right questions. Asking the right questions can help build and develop stronger relationships. Your goal when small talking should be to try to learn about and connect with the other person, not just to pass the time with purposeless chatter. So what are the right questions?

“Every great romance and each big business deal begins with small talk. The key to successful small talk is learning how to connect with others, not just communicate with them.” Bernardo J. Carducci

Open questions are key

You will never learn much about anybody by just discussing the weather. So what do you do? Closed questions like “How was your weekend?” or “What do you do?” can be answered quickly, without thinking in one word or a short phrase. “Good” and “I’m an engineer” don’t teach us a lot about the other person. Equally important, closed questions focus simply on the person asking the question – we want to focus on the person answering the question.

Open questions like “What was the best part of your weekend?” or “How did you end up in your field of work?” encourage the other person to pause, think and reflect. Open questions need to be answered with feelings, opinions and stories. And this is when you might be surprised and truly learn something about the other person.

So try using some of the open questions below the next time you’re making small talk.

Instead of . . .

Use. . .

How was your weekend? What was the best part of your weekend?
What do you do for work? How did you end up in your field of work?
How was your day? What did you do today?
What’s your name? What’s your story?
How’s the project going? What part of the project is the most important /challenging to you?
Are you happy with your current supplier? Tell me about the last time you had a problem with your current supplier.
Is the project on time and in budget? How do you measure the project’s success?

Try a 3:1 Ratio

Open questions can push the small talk further. However, you can’t just ask open questions. Closed questions serve a purpose, too. Closed questions are a good way to warm up or get the conversation going in the first place. So try using 3 closed questions to 1 open question. This establishes a comfortable balance, but still allows for the opportunity to really connect with somebody.

Here’s an example of questions to ask when making small talk with a stranger at a business convention.

  • Have you been to this convention before? (closed question)
  • Are there any speakers you’re looking forward to hearing today? (closed question)
  • So where do you work? (closed question)
  • How did you end up working for XYZ company? (open question)

Remember small talk is not about avoiding uncomfortable silence, but a chance to create insightful conversation. So give the other person a chance to tell you their story by asking them open questions.

You might also like:

 

,

Why small talk is never a waste of time in America

target training

I used to work for a large German logistics company as an in-house Business English trainer. Every morning I walked into the building and I would greet the security guard. Many of my German colleagues did this too. Not everyone learned his name though. I began to exchange daily pleasantries, talk about the weather, the weekends and would ask about his holiday when he returned back to work. Some of my German colleagues thought this behaviour was bizarre. They were surprised when I invited him to my office to share a piece of my birthday cake.

Small talk is never ‘small’

From my side I never understood why this was seen as unusual. To me, I was fostering a relationship that would make my working life easier. I know that might sound a little “mercenary” but my intentions were good. When I would occasionally forget my company identification card at home, the security guard never gave me a hard time or made me fill out the paperwork to obtain a temporary day pass (and this, of course, was not the case for other colleagues). As an American, small talk is never ‘small.’ In fact it plays quite a big role in building business relationships. It’s important, meaningful and significant.

Why is small talk so difficult?

I know that many of my clients find making small talk in English one of the most difficult things to do. My participants have told me that they are worried about saying the wrong thing, or that they don’t have the right words. I’m learning German myself, and I fully understand these problems.

However, I’ve also had German colleagues tell me that they feel small talk is unnecessary. Some have even told me it’s a waste of time – there’s time for fun when the work is done. Culturally, I find it harder to share these views.

Americans use small talk as a business tool

Many Americans approach small talk as an invaluable use of time because it can build and create new contacts and develop stronger relationships. We often don’t realize how many decisions we make based on gut feeling. And this is why small talk is so critical in America. The small talk before the job interview, at the corporate event or in the elevator with the boss can be very powerful at making a memorable impression. The person might not remember what you said but they will remember the impression you made – how you made them feel.

Of course small talk is not the sole determiner of success in American business. You must also perform the duties of your job with high quality. However, interpersonal relationships are significant in a work culture that does not have the legal safeguards often found in Germany.

3 things to keep in mind when developing your small talk skills

 “There is no such thing as a worthless conversation, provided you know what to listen for. And questions are the breath of life for a conversation.”— James Nathan Miller

The goal of small talk is not to make an overnight connection

Think of small talk as planting a seed in the garden. Making small talk once is not enough. You need to cultivate the relationship over time.

Listen and listen more

A brilliant way to strengthen a new relationship is to truly listen to the person and learn what is important to them. Once you understand what makes them tick, small talk will be much easier. Open questions are key.

It’s not all about what you can do for me

Don’t treat small talk as a one-way street. If you’re only thinking about what you can gain from the relationship, the small talk will come across as insincere and unauthentic. Small talk is not ‘how is this person going to help me?’ Small talk is about nurturing a genuine business relationship. So consider, ‘what can I offer’ or ‘how can I help?’ Additionally, the relationship will feel more personally fulfilling when you are able to give more than you take.

If you want to know more…

Then these links might be of interest to you:

And if you have another minute, let us know what problems you face when trying to make small talk in English.

, ,

5 tips for successful networking

target training

Originally published on 25.03.2013

I know enough people at my company.  I have enough friends.  I’m not comfortable speaking and reaching out to people I don’t know.  I’m not a salesperson. 

The list of excuses on why not to engage in professional networking can go on and on.  As undesirable as it can seem, networking successfully can lead to improved performance in your current job, as well as opportunities for future career development.

5 quick tips on making networking easy

Network with a purpose

Set a specific goal (improving inter-department relationships, growing sales in the logistics industry, discovering opportunities to work abroad in your company, etc).  The more focused your networking is, the faster the desired results will be.

Share useful information

It is always easier to reach out to someone when you know you have something they can use.  Think of something that has helped you in your job (a process, document, tip, etc) and pass it along.  If you help someone first, they are more willing to help you when you may need it in the future.

Use the other person’s ego

You don’t want to contact someone and ask them for a job.  Instead, contact them and ask for an informational interview if you are looking for a job.  Tell them you have some questions that you feel their experience will help answer.  You will get some insight and a good networking contact, and they get to feel like an expert and helpful.  It’s a win-win situation.

Follow up

If you say you are going to send something, send it.  If you say you are going to check on something, do it.  Following up on what you say you will do shows respect and professionalism, and helps build trust with the contact.  Also, make sure to follow up regularly with contacts even when you don’t need something as there will be a time when you will; and no one likes that friend who only calls when they need something.

Use good etiquette

The same skills you have used to become a successful professional are the ones you will use to build and maintain a good network of contacts.  Here are some good reminders on what to do/not to do when networking online and face-to-face.

There are many other ideas on networking successfully.  Check out Target Training’s seminar on networking for professionals here.  Tell us in the comments area below what have you done to build your network.

Remembering Names: Quick Tips

Do you often take part in meetings or workshops? Do you have trouble remembering the names of new people?

In my job as a trainer, I often spend whole days running sessions with people who I have never met before. I make a point of remembering the names of all of the people. I am often asked how I remember everyone or if I have a great memory.

I don’t have a great memory, but I do work on remembering the names. How do I do it? There are two things I always do.

2 Easy ways to help you remember names

  1. As a trainer, when a new group of people comes into the room, I draw a map of the room in my notepad. I then ask the people to introduce themselves. I write their names on the map and try to include one or two extra details: job title, responsibility, etc.  If I am a participant in a meeting, I also look for an opportunity to find out who is who. If everyone introduces themselves, I write their names in the appropriate position on the map. If I am not sure who someone is, I simply ask the person next to me.
  1. Whenever I talk directly to someone in the room, I make an effort to use their name. Always! At the beginning of the day / meeting, I need to use my map of the room first. I check quickly on the map, note the name and then address the person. Once I have addressed someone 3 or 4 times, I find that their name sticks in my head. At this point, I no longer need to look at the map.       

Incredibly simple! First, I write the names of the people on a seating plan. Then, I use the name at every opportunity. The more I use it, the quicker I will remember it.

Why not try this yourself at the next meeting that you attend?  Let us know if you have any other tips for remembering names in the comments areas below.

Networking Successfully: 5 Quick Tips

I know enough people at my company.  I have enough friends.  I’m not comfortable speaking and reaching out to people I don’t know.  I’m not a salesperson.  The list of excuses on why not to engage in professional networking can go on and on.  As undesirable as it can seem, networking successfully can lead to improved performance in your current job, as well as opportunities for future career development.

5 quick tips on making networking easy

Network with a purpose

Set a specific goal (improving inter-department relationships, growing sales in the logistics industry, discovering opportunities to work abroad in your company, etc).  The more focused your networking is, the faster the desired results will be.

Share useful information

It is always easier to reach out to someone when you know you have something they can use.  Think of something that has helped you in your job (a process, document, tip, etc) and pass it along.  If you help someone first, they are more willing to help you when you may need it in the future.

Use the other person’s ego

You don’t want to contact someone and ask them for a job.  Instead, contact them and ask for an informational interview if you are looking for a job.  Tell them you have some questions that you feel their experience will help answer.  You will get some insight and a good networking contact, and they get to feel like an expert and helpful.  It’s a win-win situation.

Follow up

If you say you are going to send something, send it.  If you say you are going to check on something, do it.  Following up on what you say you will do shows respect and professionalism, and helps build trust with the contact.  Also, make sure to follow up regularly with contacts even when you don’t need something as there will be a time when you will; and no one likes that friend who only calls when they need something.

Use good etiquette

The same skills you have used to become a successful professional are the ones you will use to build and maintain a good network of contacts.  Here are some good reminders on what to do/not to do when networking online and face-to-face.

There are many other ideas on networking successfully.  Check out Target Training’s seminar on networking for professionals here.  Tell us in the comments area below what have you done to build your network.