Monday, July 28, 2008


This hackneyed phrase cannot be more apt when building new business relationships.

Firstly I have asked a number of human resource managers what is the average time it takes interviewers to make their decision when assessing the interviewee. The answer unfortunately is approximately 45 seconds. Unfair? Yes, but human nature dictates that “perception is reality” and I am told by these managers that the other 59 minutes of the interview is usually to confirm those first impressions.
You enter a room, be it social or business, where there is a group of strangers and your role is to make a fantastic first impression to start building relationships.

How do you want people to perceive you?

We all know ‘you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression’.

You can often come in contact with many people every day -- in meetings, at lunch, or any business-related or social events. People buy people before they buy the product or service. You may be part of or own a great business but if you don't project the appropriate image to go with it, people may not respond the way you want them to.
Your overall appearance represents who you are and what you do. It can be a reflection of your self-esteem. If your self-esteem needs an occasional boost, you can start by changing your whole demeanour and behaviour. When you show yourself to the world as confident and capable, you actually increase your self-confidence and standing. You are more likely to achieve greater results because people respond more positively.
The way you look outside and the way you feel inside should be appropriate with what you're saying. That way people will take what you say more readily. We have all met people whose appearance and behaviours are so off-putting that we can't really take what they’re saying too seriously. Consider a man with a badly fitting suit or stains on his tie. Or a woman in a low-neck top or very short skirt. Will she be able to portray the professional image she’s aiming for? We can’t help it , we make up our mind immediately and think, ‘Can this person really be serious?
Which impression are you aiming for?
Today, you have choices. We can wear smart or casual; both are more often than not acceptable. It really does make a difference to the start of the building of relationships particularly in a business setting.
Clean shoes? Good collar and tie? Jewellery or not - for both genders? Do your colours match? Accessories? Facial hair?

Saving the Situation

What if you've done your homework, but find yourself in a room full of people dressed very differently than you are? If they very casual and you're in a suit, you can still save the day. Take off your jacket, or at least unbutton it and push up the sleeves. As surreptitiously as possible, loosen your tie, open a shirt button or two, remove accessories, roll up shirt sleeves. Always overdress, you can always take things off!

In summary – S.H.I.N.E.

S mile. From the famous song in the Broadway show, Annie, “You can’t be fully dressed without a smile.” The smile is the greatest tool in your networking toolkit. You can’t fail when you greet someone with a happy open disposition.
H andshake. That first touch and feel can also make a massive difference to the way people perceive you in those early moments. The limp handshake or even the bone crushing variety will not create the impression you’re looking for.
I – contact. A bit of a cheat here with the letter ‘I’ but it fitted the acronym perfectly! When I meet people and they don’t look me in the eye I am immediately on my guard. Am I being unfair, even unreasonable? I don’t think so. From many years experience I find at the end of the day the relationship I have with these people generally tends not to be as strong as with those who smile, give me a good handshake and look me in the eye at the same moment.
N ame. Most people admit they forget the other person’s name within 5 seconds of the introduction. I disagree; they don’t forget. They simply haven’t been listening because they are so concerned about what they’re going to say next. One of the greatest ways to build early rapport and affinity is to treat peoples’ names with the same respect you treat the owner of that name. When you shake hands use your first name only; most of th time the other person will do the same. Repeat their name as you are still shaking hands and if you don’t hear it ask them to repeat it. They will never say ‘No I’ve told you once’! Concentrate for just 1 second and you will remember their name.
E nthusiasm. Show some enthusiasm when you greet people to complete the whole picture. Enthusiasm is contagious; a double whammy at the start of a relationship can only be a great indicator for the future.
Now go networking; meet new people and by shining you can’t fail to create the sort of positive impression I’m sure you are looking to make.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"You can't network with the groom on his wedding day!"

When I found out the groom was a senior member of the training and development team at a prospect's company I couldn't help myself. I introduced myself and explained what I did. He said his company may be interested in my services and we should meet after his honeymoon.It all lasted less than 1 minute but I have now met this guy,eye to eye and when I call it will be so much easier to get through to him.
Don't miss opportunities; become a Martini networker.
Any time, any place, anywhere.
My wife was that doesn't happen often!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Th above title is the name of a book written by Dale Carnegie in 1936...a long long time ago
it is as relevant now as it was then. In fact it is more relevant as technology is trying to take over for good old-fashioned communcations through word of mouth.
Younger people are trying to build relationships through Facebook,Bebo and other so-called social networks. Nothing wrong with those as long as they are not relacements for buidling new and building on relationships.
here is an extract of some of the great man's words

Good relationships are key to business success. Here are some tips on strengthening your relationships:

Don't criticize, condemn, or complain
Give honest, sincere appreciation
Become genuinely interested in other people
Be a good listener
Encourage others to talk about themselves
Make the other person understand that you consider them important

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Who is Killing the Energy?

another guest writer to my blog... Paul Bridle a leading authority on leadership

Here are his sage words

Recently, I was with someone who found it amusing to make sarcastic digs when the opportunity arose. Those comments were funny when taken at face value. However, when they were aimed at someone in particular, they were hurtful and even undermined the individual.

I noticed a few things as a result of this type of behaviour.

It divided the room. Those that enjoyed that type of behaviour and those that didn't.
You could tell the people in the room that were learning this sort of behaviour from their boss, because they were trying to mimic it.
You could tell those people that were being affected by it negatively as they withdrew into themselves.
The overall energy levels in the room dropped as people on both sides were uncertain about when they would be next.
This brand of humour starts to be oppressive and can cause unnecessary offense. My Grandmother used to say that "Sarcasm was the lowest form of wit". In the beginning people find it funny and then they laugh because they feel they should. However, ultimately it becomes an embarrassment to people and starts to undermine relationships.

One thing I have learnt is that organizations thrive on energy. The higher the energy, the more proactive,responsive and dynamic the organization. As a leader, our job is to encourage positive energy levels.

What sort of energy do you add to your relationships? You are adding energy all the time and the question is ... is it constructive energy or destructive energy?

Constructive energy creates constructive ideas, constructive thought patterns, higher activity levels and higher results. Destructive energy destroys ideas, destroys creativity and slows the pace and ultimately lowers the level of results.

Have you ever had that person who walks into the room and it is like a ‘damp towel' has been thrown on the room. You can nearly hear the moan as people struggle to stay positive. It is like trying to swim in the pool knowing that someone has pulled the plug and you will now need to swim against the flow to stop being sucked in.

It can be as simple as something they say, their approach, or their demeanor.

If we understand this then we realise that the role of the leader is to encourage energy that drives the business. We also need to be aware of how quickly we can kill the energy by comments we make or things we do. The trouble is, some of the things that kill the energy are things we don't even notice we do. They are habits we have created and we don't realize the impact of them. In fact we can be lulled into a belief that they are positive when they are not.

Let us go back to the example of sarcasm. People still laugh but what we don't notice is that the laugh is an embarrassed or false laugh because they feel they should rather than because they are enjoying it. We think that we are causing them to laugh, which means they are enjoying themselves. We think we have added positive energy when in reality we are taking energy away from the room.

So consider these questions:

What habits have you got that may be taking energy out of your people?
When you interact with your team, are you adding or taking away energy?
Do you take time to consider (and even plan) how you can constructively add energy to your people, or do you rely on hoping that what you do has a positive effect?
These are simple but powerful questions and I implore you to consider them carefully. This year you will hear a lot from me about the importance of energy and so all these questions are important

"Straightforward and Clear Communication", says guru Robert Middleton
Much of marketing is convoluted and confusing. It doesn't have to be. To market oneself effectively, one needs to communicate simply and with clarity: "These are the clients we work with; these are the areas where they have problems; this is the solution we provide; this is how it works and this is what it costs."

We work with people in the professional, finacial and business services communities who get most of their business from referrals and exisiting clients. This means they are reactive rather than proactive meaning they rely on others for the growth of their business.
What we do do is give them practical step-by-step techniques to become more effective and confident networkers resulting in them being in control.
We run a nationwide programme of public seminars and in-house tailor-made workshops.The cost for the former is on the website; for the latter, like every business transaction,it is negotiable depending on exactly what our clients want.

Hope that's okay, Robert!