Conversation Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
Communication

What a Brigadier General Taught Me About Communication

I recently received an email from someone I didn’t know.  His email could only be described as “War and Peace!”  The original printing of the book War and Peace was 1,225 pages long.  His message felt like that to me.  It was long.  It was so long, I sent it back to him and told him this story about communication:

One of the best lessons in communication I received as a young man was given to me by a retired Brigadier General who taught in the Doctoral program at USC.  He was an amazing professor who always shared the most incredible stories and taught valuable lessons.

The course was “Management Theory.”  He asked us to write a ten-page paper on a specific topic relating to management and to turn it in within the next two weeks.  There were only twelve students in the class and we all dutifully showed up with the paper in hand two weeks later.  He collected all of our papers and sat down at his desk in front of the class. After skimming through all 12 submissions, he stood up, and handed them all back to us!  He then told us to come back with a five-page paper on the same topic.  He told us to take out all the fluff and get to the heart of the issue and turn it in next week.

We were furious – but we did it.  The next week we came back with the five-page papers.  He then went through the same routine, handed them all back and said, “You can cut more. Make it two pages and turn it in next week!”  As you might guess, we were incredulous… and we did as we were told.

We came back the following week with our two-page paper.  As you might guess – he looked at them and gave them back one last time and said, “Now, make it one page and bring it back next week along with your original ten-page paper.”  We were beyond annoyed, but we did as we were told.

We all came back the next week and turned in both papers.  He then shared one of the most valuable lessons of my academic training.  He said, “During your career, you will be working for people who are incredibly busy.  They may ask you for a report on an important topic for the company. They may not have the time to read your long-drawn out papers going through detailed minutiae covering your brilliant recommendations” (I think that might have been sarcasm).  He went on to say, “If you can learn to de-obfuscate your writing and boil things down into a simple, easy to digest document – busy people will respond better your work.”  He said, “Always create an Executive Summary that bullet points the critical findings, recommendations, or advice.  Put that at the front of your longer report.  This will give the boss a chance to get an overview of the issue and then allow him or her to go deeper into your findings from the full report.”  He also suggested that your summary bullet points make reference to the relevant page or pages that this issue was covered in the full report.

That was incredible advice that has served me well over the years.  Your communication doesn’t have to be War and Peace to be effective.  Heck, the Gettysburg Address was only 272 words long (yes, shorter than this blog, I know).

This was a great lesson for me.  I hope you find it to be a great lesson for you as well.

 

greatest asset

How talking too much in class turned into my greatest asset

Those tendencies standing “in your way” can be “the way”‘ to success and can become your greatest asset. When I was in elementary school, I generally received good reports from my teachers. However, one thing that came up time and time again was a comment by almost all of my teachers: “Ivan talks too much in class.”

My mother had numerous conversations with me about this but to no avail. I figure that she thought my grades were pretty good and she generally liked to pick and choose her battles on issues. Consequently, she didn’t really push the matter, and so… I talked and talked and talked in class. It showed up on many of my report cards. My teachers felt that it was a problem for me in school. On the other hand, my mother didn’t give me much grief on the subject.

My Greatest Asset

My talking too much in class was thought of as a roadblock by my teachers. Candidly, at one point, they almost had me convinced that it was a problem. My mother — not so much. She didn’t see my talking as such a big issue and that gave me the freedom to be myself. True, I had to tone it down a bit — but it wasn’t drummed out of me. I am grateful for that because, despite the fact that some people thought that talking was blocking my way, the truth is — it would eventually become “the way” for my life.

While the teachers definitely felt that it was a roadblock to my learning, I think they may have been wrong on that. What my teachers saw as a problem ended up becoming an incredible asset. I talk a lot. I talk to individuals, small groups, middle size groups, large groups, and massive groups. Any way you cut it — I’m a talker. It is my greatest asset. My job today is to talk to people. In fact, I get paid to talk. I get paid a crazy number to talk to companies, associations, and organizations. I love to share ideas with people, I love to coach people, and most of all I love to inspire people. And to do that — I talk.

Over the years, I’ve learned that oftentimes, What is in the way, becomes the way”.  

I believe the secret is to take the thing that is “in the way” and channel your efforts in a manner that makes that problem part of the solution. I have noticed that my wife, Elisabeth, has been able to channel what was in the way for her as a child and how powerfully that has served her. She was constantly being told that she was “too rebellious.” She had a very hard time doing things she was told she had to do just because an authority figure in life told her she must do them. Now when she was faced with a medical diagnosis and told by her medical doctor that there was only one path, her strong “rebellious” nature found another, more effective and gentle healing path. What was in her way has become her way!

Some of us do this unconsciously. However, imagine how impactful this paradigm could be if we were more conscious of it at work in our lives. I would encourage you to think about something you were told was “in the way” as part of your life? Has it “become the way” for you and your greatest asset? If so, how? For me — of the first things in my life that were in the way was that I talked too much in class. Looking back, I’d have to say it worked out pretty well. 

Voicemail Email Messages

Tips on How to Return Voicemail and Email Messages

Tiffanie Kellog and Jason Avery discuss how behavioral styles affect how we respond to voicemail and email messages.

So you received a message and you do not know exactly how to return it. Based on the book, Room Full Of Referrals, it depends on how people want to be treated, their behavioral style.

Behavioral styles are affecting your referability. When you receive a voicemail or email message, pay attention to the length and pace of that message.  Was the message long, detailed and full of information, or was it short and to the point? Know how to respond based on the behavioral style of the person who SENT the message. There are little clues in their message to identify what is the behavioral style of the person you are communicating with.

Go-Getter

“Hey it’s Tiffanie, call me”. The person leaves a short message that is very direct and to the point or only a few sentences. They are a fast-paced busy-busy person without a whole lot of time and they expect the same from you. When you call them or reply to their email, start with “I am sure you are very busy, I only need a moment of your time. Here is what I got for you”. Get straight to the point with the relevant information listed in bullet points.

Promoter

The message is upbeat and enthusiastic. The person is talking about having a good time. They are the “Fun Loving” people. They use in their message ALL CAPS, emojis and lots of exclamation points !!!!!! When you call them or reply to their email, use words such as  “Super, Great, Fantastic, or Awesome”.

Examiner

The Message is very detailed with page numbers, questions and full of details. They want all the information. If they give you a long list, do not reply with just one or two short sentences. They might become offended and question your credibility. When you call them or reply to their email, start with “I am tied up at the moment but I will get to all these questions and I will respond by this date with all the information you requested”. Be specific.

Nurturer

The message has indecisiveness. They need more options to compare before making a decision or they want to consult with someone else first. When you call them or reply to their email, start with “Here is what you need to know about the impact on their business, family or community”.

Once you know their style, you can adapt. Mirroring is a good way to start. You behave the way that they are behaving and they will appreciate you. Another option is to have four different employees representing each of these four behavioral styles to reply to the various messages based on the sender’s behavioral style. 

10 Questions to Ask When Meeting Someone for the First Time

When meeting someone for the first time, do you ever find yourself getting tongue-tied or feeling lost when it comes to knowing what questions you should ask to get a conversation going? Help is here!

Below, I list 10 questions that I personally use when I’m meeting someone for the first time.  Most of the questions shouldn’t be too surprising to you because what you’re trying to glean from an initial conversation with someone is usually pretty standard.  However, there are two questions that I really, really love.  One of them will allow you to get an idea of what someone is truly passionate about when it comes to their business.  The other will create a powerful opportunity for you to make a real connection and begin building a lasting, mutually beneficial relationship.

Here are ten great questions to ask someone while networking that are then likely to be asked of you in return. These would be great questions to pose during your next one-to-one meeting.

1. What do you do?

2. Who’s your target market?

3. What do you like most about what you do?

4. What’s new in your business?

5. What’s the biggest challenge for you and your business?

6. What sets you apart from your competition?

7. Why did you start your business?

8. Where is your business located?

9. What’s your most popular product?

10. How do you generate most of your business?

In his book Endless Referrals, my good friend Bob Burg posed what may be the single best question we’ve heard to ask someone about what he or she does. Bob writes that the question “must be asked smoothly and sincerely, and only after some initial rapport has been established”. The question is this: ‘How can I know if someone I’m talking to is a good prospect for you?” Bob is right on the mark with this question. It separates you from the rest of the pack; it’s a question that the average person doesn’t ask. And it demonstrates one of the top ten traits of a master networker: helpfulness

Please think about what questions you ask people during an initial introduction.  Do you have any different or unusual questions which you’ve found to be particularly helpful in your conversations?  I’ve told you what questions I use and I’m very curious to hear what questions you’ve had success with, so please take a moment to share in the comment forum below.

Remembering Names

When networking, it’s important to remember the basics of interpersonal communication–making eye contact, listening more than you speak, and of course, actually remembering people’s names.

Yeah, I’d say remembering someone’s name is high up in the list of mannerisms that will impress others in networking. It shows you pay attention to detail, you listen well and are interested in the person, not just their business.

It can be challenging to remember names, especially if you’re an avid networker. Years ago, I was told about a four-step process that will ensure you never forget your manners–and it actually works!

1. Repetition is key. When you are introduced to someone new, ask for their business card and read it carefully. Then, read the name on the card and ask them to repeat it; it will help lock the face with the name. “Hi! It’s great to meet you, Betsy Smith. It’s pronounced Betsy, yes?”

2. Use their name in conversation. When you begin a conversation, listen to what they are saying and respond by using their name; “Wow, Betsy, that sounds like an incredible opportunity! I’d love to sit down with you over lunch and talk more.” ID-10046846

3. Connect them with others and use their name in the introduction. You are networking after all, so it’s important to connect others if you can. Whe introducing two people, use their names when they first meet. “Joe, I’d like you to meet Betsy. Betsy is a realtor who just landed a big contract with the city. I bet you two would have a lot to talk about!”

4. Dedicate it to memory. Once you’ve left the networking event and you’re back at home or work, take out the business card and try and remember what that person looked like and what they were doing and saying. Maybe even send them a quick “nice to meet you” email to help you remember the conversation you had.

The next time your at a networking event, try to use these devices and see if it helps. If you can remember the devices, that is.

 

Talking on Givers Gain, Passions, and Family

I have been interviewed by countless reporters, blog authors, and more. Usually once you hit the “dozen books published” line, they assume you have a thing or two to say. With all of those interviews, you’d think I’d run out of things to say. In actuality, I’ve found that the energy of the person interviewing me really comes into play and helps make each conversation unique.

Below are a few clips from a recent talk I did with Cordelia Henry of the Referral Institute. We cover a wide spectrum of topics, which I always love because it gives plenty of variety.

On Givers Gain:

On Working in Your Flame:

On Family:

On the Greatest Referral I Ever Got:

Thanks Cordelia, for the wonderful conversation!

Network Your Way Into a New Job

ID-100244639In so many industries, landing a job is all about who you know – whether you define a job as a new client in your business, or a complete career change. People want to work with someone that they know, or someone that a person they know is familiar with. That being said, you can often network your way into a job. I often speak on using networking to expand your business, so this time we’ll take the route of a change in career.

First and foremost, never go into a conversation with a new or seasoned contact expecting a job offer or possibility to come out of it. When was the last time you offered or agreed to help someone who expected your help unconditionally? Not only that, but it is rare that all of your contacts will readily have opportunities that they know of to refer you to. Going into a networking event expecting a lead for a new opportunity will leave you disappointed.

Your primary goal should be to ask for career advice from trusted contacts who you admire. These people may be able to answer questions you have, give suggestions for how you can get where you want to be, and perhaps introduce you to new connections who maybe able to help you, too. Alternatively, they may shed light on aspects of a career that you had’t taken into account, which may cause you to reconsider your goals.

Have you ever networked your way into a new job? How did you use your network? Let me know in the comments below!

How to Leave a Conversation at a Networking Event

conversationEvery conversation must end, some earlier than others. When you’re at a networking event, your top priority should be to get to know someone well enough to begin developing a lasting professional relationship with them. Even if you establish a foundation for a business relationship, eventually the conversation must end. So how do you leave without souring the mood? Or, more difficult, how do you end a conversation that may not being going well?

Schedule a follow up meeting

If you are positive that this relationship will benefit both of your businesses, why end the conversation by planning the next one? Exchange contact information, say you’ll reach out later to meet, and make good on your word. Literally pull out your calendar and schedule time to connect again. If your new contact feels your relationship could be mutually beneficial, they’ll have no problem scheduling something or agreeing to try to in the near future.

Simply exchange cards

If you are still trying to decide if this individual will be a good relationship for you in the long run, simply exchange business cards and perhaps send a follow up email to them later. Starting to get to know this new person will help you figure out how you can help them grow their business, or how they can help grow yours.

Bow out pleasantly

If you’re really struggling keeping the conversation going, end your conversation by thanking them for their time, telling them how wonderful it was to chat, and say you are hoping to catch up with them later. Bowing out gracefully can feel awkward, but is your most painless option here.

What is your go-to method to end a conversation? Let me know in the comments below!

difference

Whatever You Do, Make a Difference

Sometimes it’s easy to wonder if anything you do makes a difference in the world.  When I feel like that I remind myself of this story adapted from a story by Loren Eisely:

A young man is walking along the ocean and sees a beach on which thousands and thousands of starfish have washed ashore. Further along he sees an old man, walking slowly and stooping often, picking up one starfish after another and tossing each one gently into the ocean.

“Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” he asks.

“Because the sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them further in they will die.”

“But, old man, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it! You can’t possibly save them all, you can’t even save one-tenth of them.  In fact, even if you work all day, your efforts won’t make any difference at all.”

The old man listened calmly and then bent down to pick up another starfish and threw it into the sea. “It made a difference to that one.”

What do you do to make a difference, even a small one? Leave your comments in the field below!

Premature Solicitor

Networking Mixers: Make Your Time Count!

NetworkingSome people go to a networking mixer with only one goal in mind: surviving until the time they plan to leave.  However, networking doesn’t have to be a dreaded activity!  Here are two tips to help you make the most of your time at networking mixers, and to help you enjoy yourself so the time will practically fly by.

  1. Set a Goal for the Number of People You’ll Meet.  To get the most out of a networking event, set a goal regarding the number of contacts you want to make or the number of business cards you want to collect.  Don’t leave until you’ve met your goal.If you feel inspired, set a goal to meet fifteen to twenty people and make sure you get each person’s business card.  If you don’t feel so hot, shoot for less.  In either case, set a reachable goal based on the attendance and the type of group.
  2. Spend Ten Minutes or Less with Each Person You Meet and Don’t Linger with Friends and Associates.  Since your first goal is to meet a given number of people, you can’t spend too much time with any one person, no matter how interesting the conversation gets.  Stay focused on making as many contacts as you can.  When you meet people who are very interesting and with whom you want to spend more time, set up appointments with them.  You can always meet later to continue the conversation.Don’t try to close business deals while you’re networking; it’s impractical.  Set a date to meet and discuss your product or service in an environment more conducive to doing business.  You may be able to increase your business with hot prospects if you take the time to fully understand their needs.Learn to leave conversations gracefully.  Honesty is usually the best policy; tell them you need to connect with a few more people, sample the hors d’oeuvres, or get another drink.  If you feel uncomfortable with that, exit like a host by introducing new acquaintances to someone you know.  Better yet, if it seems appropriate, ask them to introduce you to people they know.Above all, don’t linger with friends and associates.  These are people you already know, and you’re there to meet people you don’t know.  I attended a mixer once where I saw several business friends stand and talk with one another for two hours.  On their way out, one actually complained, “This was a waste of time.  I didn’t get any business from it, did you?”  Ummm, seriously??  

I highly recommend you try executing these two tips at your next networking mixer.  After you do so, come back and leave a comment in the forum below to let me know how it worked out.  I’m confident you’ll be pleased with the results and I’d love to hear about your experience!

 

What Is Your Intent? Do You Know Your Purpose?

Photo courtesy of Boykung at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of Boykung at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

All great teachers assert the importance of having intent and purpose in our lives.  According to Benjamin Disraeli, “The secret of success is constancy of purpose.”  Before you go into a networking scenario, make sure you know your purpose.  If your underlying pupose is to exploit the group, you will communicate differently, both verbally and nonverbally, than if you intend to give to the group.  You expect an eventual return, of course, but a good networker goes in with the immediate benefit of others uppermost in mind.

We are, at most times in our lives, a dynamic mixture of intentions.  We seek to do good for others, and at the same time we seek personal benefits in many different forms.  When we attend networking events, our attention instinctively and constantly jumps from situation to situation, searching for opportunities that favor us.  To fix your intention firmly on benefitting others, it is useful to organize your thoughts before the event by formulating, in writing, a clear statement of your main purpose–a mission statement.  Focusing on your number-one priority helps you push your many other impulses into the background.

With your attention and intentions focused, you will communicate clearly and unambiguously your willingness to help others solve problems and satisfy needs.  You will be more self-confident and open to the messages of others, and they will sense it and be attracted to you.  Your message will foster trust and rapport with your networking partners, enabling you to establish and strengthen mutually beneficial relationships.

For the networker, the most authentic message of all is this: “I would like to be your friend, and for you to be my friend.  I think we will both benefit from it.  And I want to start this friendship by doing something to help you.”  If you communicate this orientation toward others in all possible ways, with integrity, you will easily form valuable, rewarding, long-lasting networking relationships.

What have you personally found to be an effective tactic in relaying your genuine networking intent/purpose?  Please share your feedback in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

8 Networking Tips to Ensure You Are Approachable

Scott Ginsberg

Scott Ginsberg

Scott Ginsberg, author of The Power of Approachability, has spent a lot of time researching the true meaning of approachability and how it affects our relationships.  You may have heard of Scott.  He’s also known as “the Nametag Guy” (he wears a name tag everywhere he goes).  He’s the author of several books, and he’s a professional speaker who helps people maximize their approachability, become unforgettable, and make names for themselves.

Scott emphasizes that approachability is a two way street.  “It’s both you stepping onto someone else’s front porch, and you inviting someone to step onto your front porch.”  Below are eight tips from Scott (I’ve modified them a little) on how to maximize your approachability.

1) Be Ready to Engage–When you arrive at a meeting, event, party, or anywhere many conversations will take place, prepare yourself.  Be “ready to engage,” with conversation topics, questions, and stories in the back of your mind, ready to go as soon as you meet someone.  This will help you avoid those awkward “How’s the weather?” discussions.

2)  Focus on CPI–“CPI” stands for Common Point of Interest.  It’s an essential element in every conversation and interaction.  Your duty, as you meet new people, or even as you talk with those you already know, is to discover the CPI as soon as possible.  It helps establish a bond between you and others.  It increases your approachability and allows them to feel more comfortable talking with you.

3)  Give Flavored Answers–You’ve heard plenty of “fruitless questions” in your interactions with other people–questions like “How’s it going?” “What’s up?” or “How are you?”  When such questions come up, Scott warns, don’t fall into the conversation-ending trap of responding, “Fine.”  Instead, offer a “flavored answer”: “Amazing!” “Any better and I’d be twins!” or “Everything is beautiful.”  Your conversation partner will instantly change her demeanor, smile, and, most of the time, inquire further to find out what made you answer that way.  Why?  Because nobody expects it.  Not only that, but offering a true response to magnify the way you feel is a perfect way to share yourself, or “make yourself personally available” to others.

4)  Don’t Cross Your Arms at Networking Events–Even if it’s cold, you’re bored, or you’re just tired and don’t want to be there–don’t cross your arms.  It makes you seem defensive, nervous, judgmental, closed-minded, or skeptical.  It’s a simple, subconscious, nonverbal cue that says, “Stay away.”  People see crossed arms, and they drift away.  They don’t want to bother you.  You’re not approachable.  Think about it, would you want to approach someone like that?  Probably not.  So when you feel that urge to fold your arms across your chest like a shield, stop.  Be conscious of its effect.  Then, relax and do something else with your arms and hands.

5)  Give Options for Communication–Your friends, colleagues, customers, and coworkers communicate with you in different ways.  Some will choose face-to-face; some will e-mail; others will call; still others will do a little of everything.  Accommodate them all.  Give people as many ways as you can to contact you.  Make it easy and pleasant.  On your business cards, e-mail signatures, websites, and marketing materials, let people know they can get in touch with you in whatever manner they choose.  Maybe you prefer e-mail, but what matters most is the other person’s comfort and ability to communicate with you effectively.  There’s nothing more annoying to a “phone person” than to discover she can’t get a hold of you unless she e-mails you.

6)  Always Have Business Cards–At one time or another you’ve probably been on either the telling or listening end of a story about a successful, serendipitous business encounter that ended with the phrase “Thank God I had one of my business cards with me that day!”  If you recall saying something like that yourself, great!  You’re practicing approachability by being easy to reach.   If not, you’ve no doubt missed out on valuable relationships to get their supply reprinted, or change jobs.  Always remember: There is a time and a place for networking–any time and any place!  You just never know whom you might meet.

7)  Conquer Your Fear–Do you ever hear yourself saying, “They won’t say hello back to me.  They won’t be interested in me.  I will make a fool of myself”?  Fear is the number-one reason people don’t start conversations–fear of rejection, fear of inadequacy, fear of looking foolish.  But practice will make this fear fade away.  The more you start conversations, the better you will become at it.  So, be the first to introduce yourself, or simply to say hello.  When you take an active rather than a passive role, you will develop your skills and lower your chances of rejection.

8)  Wear Your Name Tag–I’ve heard every possible excuse not to wear name tags, and all of them can be rebutted: “Name tags look silly.”  Yes, they do.  But remember, everyone else is wearing one too.  “Name tags ruin my clothes.”  Not if you wear them on the edge of your lapel, or use cloth-safe connectors, like lanyards and plastic clips.  “But I already know everybody.”  No, you don’t.  You may think you do, but new people enter and leave businesses and organizations all the time.  “But everyone already knows me.”  No, they don’t.  Even the best networkers know there’s always someone new to meet.  Your name tag is your best friend for several reasons.  First of all, a person’s name is the single piece of personal information most often forgotten–and people are less likely to approach you if they don’t know (or have forgotten) your name.  Second, it’s free advertising for you and your company.  Third, name tags encourage people to be friendly and more approachable.

So, what do you think of Scott’s never-leave-home-without-your-name-tag strategy?  Do you have any own tips or tactics for making yourself approachable?  I’d love to hear your thoughts so please share them in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
1 2 3 7
   Follow Me

Get every new post delivered to your inbox