Can We Control How We’re Intuitively Perceived by Our Fellow Networkers?

Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In my book Masters of Networking, there’s a section on nonverbal networking written by Darrell and Diana Ross and I’d like to share an excerpt of it with you because it’s really important to consider how we may be involuntarily contributing to others intuitively perceiving us inaccurately.

 Human resource professionals tell us that they usually know within the first two or three minutes of an interview whether the candidate is right or wrong for the job.  The rest of the sixty-minute interview is taken up with confirming the first impression.  Similarly, upon meeting someone for the first time, most of us form a reasonably accurate assessment of his or her personality within the first few minutes, starting even before the first word is uttered.  It’s obvious that humans form these first impressions intuitively, not rationally.  We don’t say to ourselves, “That person is wearing a pinstriped suit and carrying a cane.  Therefore, he is fastidious about his appearance, likely to be flamboyant in manner, a perfectionist in dealing with details, etc., etc.”  We don’t think these things; we just feel them instinctively, almost instantaneously.

Of course, our experiences and our rational minds tell us that our first impressions can be off the mark and that we must be ready to change our assessment in light of new evidence.  But our “working model” is driven by intuition, at least in the beginning of a relationship.

How does this intuition work?  What is it based on?  Studies have shown that we communicate with each other in many nonverbal ways.  These forms of communication tend to be faster than a spoken language, because they don’t require us to pay conscious attention to and interpret a string of words that is being directed at us or others.

One familiar example is body language.  For years, professional communicators have studied and described how we communicate by our posture, gait, gesture, head position, eye movement, and other actions.  The signals we send are mostly about mood, emotion, and attitude, but more explicit messages, as well as more subtle ones, are routinely sent and received without the use of words.  Communication at this level can be controlled and managed if we are aware of what we are doing.

Another kind of message is chemical.  Like most animals, we emit pheromones that tell others of our species, and in some cases our friends in other species, a great deal about our current emotional state, our fears and desires, and our attraction to or repulsion from others.  These messages are largely out of our conscious control.  Different people react differently to these signals; some react strongly, others not at all.  If we are conscious of their influence, we can choose to react to them or we can ignore them.

Can these known forms of nonverbal communication account for all the knowledge and behavior we refer to as intuition?  Some popular authorities, such as currently fashionable spiritualists, hypothesize about mysterious, undetectable “forces” and “fields” which somehow fall outside the known laws of physics.  It is true that there are many aspects of human psychology that we have yet to fully understand.  But the history of scientific discovery shows that human nature, while mysterious, is accessible to the tools of science and that supernatural explanations are ultimately unecessary.

What we do know is that we communicate with people constantly, even when our mouths are closed.  The secret is to become more aware of our unspoken communications so the messages we send are true reflections of who we are and how we wish to be perceived.

Successful Networkers Build Deep Relationships–Know Your Contacts

If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, the fact is it will simply never be very powerful.  In this video, I talk about why investing the time and effort into really getting to know your contacts and building deep, trusted relationships with them is key to networking success.

Do you know your contacts’ hobbies? Do you know their family members’ names? If your answer is no, this means you’re not delving beneath the surface with your contacts and you’re not building fruitful relationships–you need to get to know your contacts much better.

Watch this short video now to learn how to build deeper, mutually beneficial relationships by using the GAINS Exchange, get relationship-building success strategies used by international sales expert & keynote speaker Harvey Mackay, and more.

Do you have a method or a tactic for getting to know your contacts better which has really seemed to work for you?  If so, please share it in the comment forum below.  I’m always interested in the tactics that networkers around the world have successfully used to achieve networking success and I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Networking Is an Acquired Skill

The Third Law of Notable Networking: Networking Is an Acquired Skill
(Click Here to read about the First Law of Notable Networking and Click Here to read about the Second Law)

Most people are not born networkers; they develop the skills through education, training, the right attitude, and long practice.  Any technique of value requires a commitment to learning how to use it effectively.  The next generation of business professionals will operate under a different model of management, in which networking will be an integral element.  Take advantage of every opportunity you have to learn to network more effectively.  It is a skill that will only grow in importance.

Remember Will Rogers’ statement about being on the right track:  “If you’re just sitting there, you’re going to get run over!”  If you are active in a networking organization, you’re “on the right track.”  The key, however, is to take advantage of the opportunities that these groups have to offer.  This means you need to be an active participant in the networking process to get any substantive results.

Curiously, many people invest time in networking, but not in learning how.  This is like trying to play tennis or golf without lessons.  Sure, you can perform, but how well?  Simply attending meetings is not enough.  You need to listen to CDs, read books and articles, talk to people who network well, and most important, practice what you’ve learned.  This is no less than what you would do to learn how to play golf, manage people, or sell a product.

Always keep in mind that in order to develop a successful word-of-mouth-based business, you must attend every networking event that you can and practice, practice, practice!  Practice greeting people, handing out your card, asking for their cards, listening, excusing yourself, and introducing yourself to others.  If you have questions about what to do (and/or not do) in order to most effectively greet people, exchange cards, listen, excuse or introduce yourself, please let me know in the comment forum below.  I’m more than happy to do follow-up blog posts on any/all of those specific aspects of networking (as well as any other aspects you may have questions about). Thanks!

What’s Your Excuse for Not Following Up?

What’s your excuse for not following up with new contacts after networking events?  It doesn’t really matter what your answer is because I’m here to tell you that the correct answer to the above question from this point on is: There is no excuse for not following up, so I don’t have one.

We all know that networking without follow up can equal a big waste of time.  However, many networkers still find every excuse under the sun not to follow up and the most common reasons they use are either that they’re not sure how to appropriately follow up or they don’t have time.  As promised in Monday’s blog entry, today I’m going to give you two free follow up note templates (these will work whether you’re using e-mail or mailing a hand-written note) that will make it a no-brainer for you to follow up with new contacts.  No more excuses!

Follow up Template for “B list” contacts (those who may become valuable contacts in the future but not right away):

Jim–

My name is John Smith, and I’m the consultant who met you the other day over at the chamber.  I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed our conversation–and it sounds like you’re really doing well and staying busy.

Anyway, it was good talking to you, and if I can help you out in any way, please let me know.

John

Follow up Template for “A list” contacts (those who might become new clients or referral partners right now):

If using e-mail, use this subject line: Nice to Meet You–Chamber Event (1/23)

Jim–

My name is Jane Smith, and I’m the consultant who met you the other day at the chamber event.  I just wanted to say I really enjoyed our conversation and was hoping I could learn a little bit more about what you do.

I’m thinking we can get together for a quick cup of coffee.  That way, if I run into someone who could use your services, I can point him in your direction.  How does next Tuesday morning sound for something over at Starbucks?

Again, great talking to you, and if I can help your business in any way, please let me know.

Jane

Using these follow up note templates provide you with a great base for building relationships with the new contacts you make at networking events.  One more quick tip: Regardless of whether you choose to use these templates when writing follow up notes, always be sure to first remind the person of who you are and where you met so your note doesn’t get instantly discarded.

Stand and Deliver

Whether you’re introducing yourself to an individual or to a group, you have a choice of how you deliver your message. The primary vehicle for your introduction is your verbal presentation.  Does your introduction work?StandandDeliver

People will judge not only the message, but the messenger as well. How you look, carry yourself, listen, and leave the conversation will affect what others do with the message you’ve delivered.  The important thing to remember is to speak as if you’re addressing a single person, a good friend.

As you network with friends and associates and tell them what you do, your underlying hope is that they will use your services and pass the message to others, who will also use your services and in turn keep spreading your message.  When someone such as a strong or casual contact speaks on your behalf, the same rules apply.  What you do and say sets the pattern for duplication. As in the “telephone game” you may have played as a child, you need to keep checking down the line to ensure that your original message is being accurately passed along.  As you continue to build your word-of-mouth network, you need to know how much information your fellow networkers are actually hearing and understanding and, at times, you may need to make adjustments in the way you disseminate your message.

Each messenger may have used a different technique and had different motives for participating in the race, but the essence of each message is what needs to cross the finish line.

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