Are You Approachable or Alienating?

TR Garland (pictured with me in the photo below) is a friend of mine and co-author of one of my most recent #1 best-selling books called “Building The Ultimate Network.”  He’s also considered a top trainer for the Referral Institute.

For some time now, we’ve both observed a need to drill down on one of the most important and foundational concepts to networking – The VCP Process®.  Eight months ago, we started a much-anticipated 12-part monthly series of blog posts which addresses this and contains some very timely information for networkers across the globe.  Today, we’re proud to share with you Part 8 of the series.  Enjoy.

ARE YOU APPROACHABLE OR ALIENATING?

(Part 8 of 12 of the “Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking” Series)

 

In Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 , Part 4, and Part 5 of this series, we introduced and re-introduced the concept and steps of The VCP Process® to Networking for our readers through brief anecdotes, relevant comparisons, and sometimes even humorous situations.  For Parts 6 and 7 we even shared with you video trainings from the both of us

Today, we’d like to share with you a handful of behaviors that you can use on a weekly basis to increase the number of referrals you receive. And, these behaviors are based upon the following question

Are You Approachable or Alienating

Success.  It’s not just a word.  It’s also a very popular magazine as many of you may be familiar with.  And, the Editor of SUCCESS Magazine, Darren Hardy, recently released a book called, “The Compound Effect.

While it’s an absolutely wonderful book that we recommend you pick up and read in detail, the underlying principle Darren speaks about is that “the little things add up” – just as in networking.  Don’t assume that because some of the tactics and tasks we speak about in this blog series are simple and easy to understand that you shouldn’t make the time to practice them.  Don’t discount the fact that we recommend you practice some of these simple tasks on a weekly basis.  After all, repetition produces RESULTS – especially in networking

With that said, below are some simple things for you to consider based on your Attitude, Body Language, and Congruence when you are evaluating whether or not people perceive YOU as Approachable or Alienating.  And, the reason why we believe this topic is so important is because you may be sending unknown and/or unconscious signals to others when you’re networking that will directly affect the number of referrals you receive and referral partners you make

Approachable Behaviors:

Attitude – Smile, laugh, and look like you are a pleasant person to talk to.  Although this seems ridiculously simple, you’d be surprised as to how many people forget it, and therefore don’t practice it (see Alienating Behaviors below).

Body Language – Dr. Misner’s book “Networking Like A Pro” introduced the reader to the dynamics of how one stands when conversing called ‘Open 2’s’ and ‘Open 3’s.’  In short, if you are in a conversation with another person or persons, make sure your STANCE allows for others who walk past you to easily join the conversation.  Otherwise, they might not see either one of you as approachable then…or ever.

Congruence – Carry yourself as if every person you meet is the Host of that particular networking event.  If you were at someone’s party, you’d go above and beyond the norm to make them feel good about themselves and the party…wouldn’t you?  I guess what we’re saying here is that you attended the networking event to make new friends and deepen relationships with people you already know, right?  Then, it might be appropriate to act like it.

Alienating Behaviors:

Attitude – When attending networking events, leave your own problems at the door.  This is true for both your conscious signals as well as your unconscious signals.  For example, rambling on about your rough personal or professional life is unbecoming of a future referral partner.  Listening to challenges in your relationship or that your boss has favorites in the office are not the reasons why OTHERS attend networking events.  If you’re down, don’t bring other people down.  They might avoid you at the next networking event, and the next, and the next.

Body Language – Also introduced in Dr. Misner’s book “Networking Like A Pro” was the idea of how one stands when conversing called ‘Closed 2’s’ and ‘Closed 3’s’.  In short, it is possible to alienate other people who might want to learn more about you at a networking function simply by standing in a “closed off manner” with those who you are currently speaking with.  Your STANCE means everything in your approachability and allows for others who walk past you to easily join the conversation.

Congruence – (or in this case Incongruence) Lacking consistency between what you say and what you do actually makes a big difference in people’s perception of whether or not you are Approachable or Alienating.  If they see consistent inconsistencies, they may believe you are insincere in the reason why you went networking to begin with.

In closing, our focus has been measuring your weekly activities and how they relate to moving people in your network through The VCP Process® all the way from Visibility through Credibility to Profitability.  We believe that today’s part in the series helped remind you of some simple, yet extremely important ideas to keep “top of mind.”  Do you agree? 

We thank you for reading today’s post and extend an invitation to be on the lookout for next month’s contribution to this series – Part 9 called “The Fine Line Between Comedy and Competency.”

Body Language Can Be the Silent Killer of Conversations

Body language can be an extremely powerful or attractant or deterrent when it comes to building relationships with others.  Could you be unknowingly undermining your networking efforts through your body language?

Here’s a good experiment to implement, sooner rather than later.  The next time you’re out networking, take along a trusted friend and have him observe your body language.  Here are several things you can ask him to focus on regarding your performance at this event:

  • Eye contact.  Are you making good eye contact throughout the conversation?  Or are you looking behind the person to see who else is at the event?
  • Arm movement.  What are your arms doing?  Are they folded (“I’m bored”) or tucked behind your back (“I’m interested”)?
  • Positioning.  Are you standing in a manner that is open and welcoming, or blocking people out of your conversation?  Are you leaning on something, as if bored or tired?  Are you unable to shake hands because you’re juggling  a plateful of food?
  • Facial expressions.  Are you smiling, or holding back a yawn?  Are you showing interest?  What does your face say?

Take time to discuss your friend’s observations and reactions.  Listen to the feedback, become more aware, and make adjustments accordingly.  Our body language is primarily subconscious–we’re usually not aware of it, or the hidden messages it sends.  That’s why we need the help of someone we trust to give us honest feedback.

People check you out visually within the first seven seconds of meeting you.  With that in mind, try these two actions in the next few weeks to help ensure that you are making positive and powerful first impressions:

  1. Look in the mirror before leaving the house and ask yourself, “What message am I sending to those who are meeting me for the first time?  What opinions will they have of me before I even open my mouth?”
  2. Become more aware of your body language by getting feedback.  What are you saying without speaking a word?  Take someone with you to your next networking function and ask them to provide honest, direct feedback on your body language.

After you’ve taken these actions, please come back and leave a comment sharing what important things you learned–we’d all like to hear your thoughts!

Get Your Act Together

Let’s face it: As a businessperson, you’ve got a lot going on. There are people to see, places to go and a whole lot of stuff to do. Can you do all this, and look and act presentable at all times, too?

Quite frankly, getting and keeping your act together can be a little overwhelming for even the sanest of people, so here are some tips:

1. Look the part before going to a networking event.  You’d be surprised how many people fall short in the fundamental area of appearance. If it’s a chamber of commerce networking breakfast, don’t dress casually–wear a good suit or outfit. You need to be well-rested and clearheaded when attending a morning networking session; make a conscious effort to get plenty of sleep the night before. If you’re not a morning person, hit the sack earlier than usual, so you don’t look like the walking dead. Regardless of how many cups of coffee you’ve had, people can tell if you’re not all there.

2. Make sure your body language sends the right message. When it comes to forming networking relationships, most of the important information–trustworthiness, friendliness, sincerity, openness–is communicated through nonverbal cues such as posture, facial expression and hand gestures. When engaging in conversation, look the other person directly in the eye and stay focused on what he’s saying. Lean a bit into the conversation rather than away from it; don’t stand rigid, with your arms crossed.

3. Be prepared. Make sure you know which pocket your business cards are in, and have plenty on hand. Nothing screams, “One of these days I’ve got to get organized!” louder than handing a potential referral partner someone else’s card.

4. Remember to smile. Studies have shown that if you smile when you talk, you seem more open and forthright. Obviously you don’t want to go overboard with this, and start grinning and shaking hands like a hyperactive clown; just show that you’re having a good time, and that will send the right message.

Perception is reality when it comes to meeting people for the first time. If people perceive you as not being right for them, they simply won’t be inclined to refer business to you, regardless of the work you can actually do. However, by keeping the above tips in mind, you’ll go a long way toward creating the right impression in the blink of an eye.

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