Category Archives: Networking

Conversation Creator Or Conversation Killer?

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Much has been written about the art of conversation. Engaging strangers comes easily to some people. For others, it is a nightmare to start a dialogue and keep it going.  In the business world, good conversation skills are a must if you want to build relationships with your clients and your colleagues.  

Like so much in life, good conversation is a matter of maintaining balance.  It’s a blend of speaking and listening.  Paying attention to what other people are saying is crucial to keeping a natural flow.

People with the best intentions can kill a conversation without realizing what they have done.  Here a few of the classic types who have earned the title “Conversation Killer.” With a bit of intention, you won’t find yourself on this list.

The Bore: That’s the person who talks on and on about himself when you want to talk about yourself.

The Interrogator:  This person read somewhere that asking questions is the secret to good dialogue.  The result is a barrage of questions fired at the other person until he is completely worn down.  By commenting occasionally on what other people are saying, you can avoid making them feel as if they are being grilled by the Gestapo.

The Interrupter:  This person doesn’t take time to hear you out.  He continually jumps in to finish your sentences for you, acting as if he knows what you are going to say next. Pauses make the interrupter uncomfortable.

The Advisor:  This conversation killer believes he is keeping the balance.  He has heard what you said and is now offering his advice.  The problem here is that you didn’t ask what he thought. To avoid being the advisor, keep your opinions to yourself unless you hear, “What would you do?” or “What do you think?” 

The One-Upper:  This individual can hardly wait for you to finish your story so he can go you one better.  So you had a skiing accident and broke your ankle?  Well, he fell off a mountain and was in a body cast for a year.  Whatever you have to say, he can top it.

Chatty Cathy: She talks way too much. She doesn’t realize that people seldom regret what they left unsaid.

The Poor Sport: This type refuses to play the conversation game. You can ask every question in the book, and he still manages to provide only one-word responses.

Good conversation is give and take.  Everybody enhances conversation by listening, acknowledging and offering the occasional response.  Sometimes it feels like work, but after all, you are trying to establish relationships, grow your business and be more profitable.  Being a conversation creator is part of the job.

As always, the best conversationalist is the one who listens.

 

 

A Different Perspective on Business Networking

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All business people are networkers whether they realize it or not.  If they’re not, they need to be or they will soon be out of business. Some people are more effective at business networking than others. They work at it with purpose while others wander aimlessly through the process.

When and where can you find opportunities to network? The answer is simple: anytime, anywhere.

Every time you meet someone, greet someone, pick up the phone, send an e-mail message, engage someone in conversation, write a note (yes, people still write notes), you’re networking.

You don’t have to attend a community function, an after-hours reception, a fundraising event, a meeting or a conference to network. Anytime you interact with another person, you’re networking. It can happen at the mall, the grocery store, the post office, walking the dog, riding in an elevator or waiting for your next flight to take off.

What do you need to understand about networking to be effective?

The purpose of business networking is to build relationships and grow your business, but you can’t be successful at networking if you don’t understand what it is. Some people think that it’s who you know and others believe that it’s who knows you.  Networking is a combination of those two and more.

Business networking is about what you know, and more importantly, it’s about who knows that you know what you know. (Try saying that fast three times in a row.)

It’s not enough to be famous if no one understands what makes you famous. As part of your networking strategy, be clear about who you are, what you do and what you have to offer.   Your area of expertise and the unique skills you possess are what others need to know.

How can you be sure that people know that you know what you know? By being visible and by using every opportunity to showcase your expertise. And by preparing that infamous elevator speech. You know, the one you can deliver in 30-60 seconds, the time it takes to ride between floors on an elevator—hence, the name.

Your elevator speech needs to be a capsulized version of what you do, how you do it, who you work with and what results or solutions you offer.  It needs to be interesting and spark curiosity.

Your elevator pitch shouldn’t be a static, memorized statement. Instead of a canned, formulaic, verbatim regurgitation, engage your listener by asking a question posed as a problem that your product or service solves.

Once people know that you know what you know, you become the expert and the “to-go-to” person. It’s a lot easier to have people come to you rather than having to chase them down. Would you agree?

Lydia Ramsey is on a mission to stamp out rudeness. She is a Savannah-based business expert on business etiquette and professional conduct, a sought-after speaker and established author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her at LydiaRamsey.com to leave a comment, ask a question or learn more about her programs and products. More information on professional conduct is available in her best-selling books Manners That Sell – Adding the Polish That Builds Profits and Lydia Ramsey’s Little Book of Table Manners. Invite Lydia to speak at your next conference or meeting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Different Perspective on Networking

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Eye contactAll business people are networkers whether they realize it or not. Some are more effective than others. Some work at it with purpose; others wander aimlessly through the process.

Every time you meet someone, greet someone, pick up the phone, send an e-mail message, engage someone in conversation, write a note (yes, some people still write notes), you are networking.

You don’t have to attend a community function, an after hours reception, a fundraising event or an educational conference to network. Anytime you interact with someone else you are engaged in networking. It can happen at the mall, the grocery store, the post office, walking the dog, riding in an elevator or waiting for your next flight to take off.

The purpose of business networking is to build relationships and grow your business, but you can’t be successful at networking if you don’t understand what it is. Some people think that it’s who you know and others believe that it’s who knows you. Networking is a combination of those two, but it is more than that.

Business networking is also about what you know, and more importantly, it’s about who knows that you know what you know. (Try saying that three times in a row fast.)

It’s not enough to be famous if no one understands what makes you famous. As part of your networking strategy, be clear on who you are, what you do and what you have to offer.   Your area of expertise and the unique skills you possess are what others need to understand.

How can you be sure that people know that you know what you know? By being visible and by using, not abusing, every opportunity to showcase your expertise. Once people know that you know what you know, you become the expert and the “to-go-to” person. It’s a lot easier to have people come to you rather than having to chase them down.

A word of caution: Don’t start your conversations with “Let me tell you about me.” You’ll turn others off before you know it. Open your conversations with questions that begin with “why” and “how” or “tell me about….” Practice good listening skills that indicate your interest in knowing the other person, who they are and what they do.

Before you launch into who you are and what you do, learn about and show a genuine interest in the other person. Most people would rather talk about themselves than listen to you. Give them that opportunity before you start tooting your own horn.

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

 

 

Business Etiquette: Overcoming Minglephobia or Fear of Networking

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Networking GroupWhen you think of attending a networking event, do you suffer from an attack of “minglephobia” of fear of networking? Some people thoroughly enjoy these opportunities to mix and mingle with business clients and potential customers. They welcome the chance to meet and talk with total strangers. Other people would rather schedule a root canal than face a room of people whom they barely know.

Here are a few tips to help you deal with the fear of networking and turn each one of these events into a profitable experience.

  1. Understand what networking is not. It is not about seeing how many hands you can shake or how many business cards you can collect.
  2. Understand what networking is. It is an opportunity to connect with people and build your business relationships.
  3. To be a successful networker, you need to know who will be attending the event. If you can’t get names, at least know which organizations will be represented.
  4. Plan in advance what you will talk about. Have specific topics in mind for those people whom you plan to see.
  5. Be prepared with a least three subjects you can discuss with anyone, whether they are strangers or people whom you already know. The best way to do this is to be up to date on current events. If you can’t make conversation, you can’t make connections.
  6. Listen more than you talk. People enjoy talking about themselves so give them the opportunity. You will learn more by listening, and the people you meet will think you are a great conversationalist.
  7. Arrive on time so you can become comfortable with the venue and be able to meet people as they arrive. If you join an event already underway, it will be more difficult to join conversations.
  8. Have plenty of your business cards with you and have them readily accessible. The person who has to fumble for a business card appears unprepared and unprofessional.
  9. Have a follow up plan for those people with whom you’d like to create or maintain a business relationship. As soon as you get back to your office, look at those business cards and decide whether you want to call someone, send an email or invite a person to lunch.

The successful networkers always attend events with confidence and assurance. They have a plan of action and a goal of growing their business by connecting with people face to face. Social media is no substitute for a personal encounter.

Here’s to overcoming your fear of networking!

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

 

Do Your Homework Before You Network

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As I write this newsletter, I am making preparations to speak about networking to the Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants at Amelia Island, Florida. Now there is a group whose expertise I need. The writer in me has suppressed the numbers side of me. I am extremely grateful for accountants and people with a love for math. While they do what they enjoy, I am free to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. My message to this group is one I would like to share with you as one of my loyal subscribers.

Networking is a very broad topic, I am choosing to focus on one piece of it for the purpose of this newsletter.  The attention is on planned business/social events and how to prepare for them. It is not the usual “how to work the event” topic. This is about preparing for the event in advance. Consider these questions before you head out the door:

1. What is the event?  Read the invitation carefully. Check to see if it is a cocktail reception with heavy hors d’oeuvres, breakfast, lunch or dinner. No matter what refreshments or meals are provided, eat something before you go so you can focus on the business connections and not the food and drink.

2. Why is it being held? What is the reason for having this event? Is it purely for bringing a business group or groups together? Is it a fund-raiser? Is it to share information about the host organization or a thank you to their clients?  Is it to lure new clients?

3.  Who will be there?  If you have any questions about the other people who have been invited, ask. Call the person or organization who sent the invitation. Most likely, they will be happy that you care and more than willing to share that information, if not by name, by organization.

4. What will I talk about? Never, ever go to an event without some conversation starters in your head.  Read the paper, listen to the news, research the host organization so you are ready to talk to anyone you meet. Have three topics you can discuss if there is a lull in the conversation.

5. What should I wear?  This is not simply a woman’s issue.  Check to see what the recommended attire is.  If the terminology is not clear, put that question on your list for the event planner or sponsor. “Business attire” and “business casual” mean different things to different people.

Proper planning can serve you well and help to avoid embarrassing moments.  Remember that advance preparation adds the polish that builds profits!

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

Top Ten Tips on Business Card Etiquette

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Business CardBusiness cards are the staple of business success.  Nevertheless, I am constantly amazed by how few professionals pay attention to the etiquette of exchanging cards.  These are the very same people who seek information about the rules of networking, making positive first impressions and dressing for success.  You can work the crowd with ease, offer an impressive handshake and dress with finesse, but if you don’t know the fine points of giving and receiving business cards, all the rest can be a waste of time and effort.

Here are ten basic rules to follow for the profitable and productive exchange of business cards.

  1. Never leave your home or office without your cards and plenty of them.  There is nothing more unprofessional than the business person who has to say, “Oh, I’m sorry. I just gave out my last card.” or ” I’m sorry. I didn’t bring any with me.”
  2. Keep your cards in a business card case or in something that protects them from wear and tear.  A crumpled business card makes a poor first impression.
  3. Know where your business cards are at all times.  The person who has to go through every jacket and pants pocket or every nook and cranny of a briefcase to find those business cards loses credibility immediately.
  4. Hand them out with discretion. Those people who believe in doling them out in multiples of 12 send a message that their cards aren’t worth much.
  5. Give and receive cards with your right hand–the hand of discretion.  This can make a big difference when doing business internationally.
  6. Give the card so the person who is receiving it can read it without having to turn it around.
  7. Always make a comment about a card when you receive it. Note the logo, the business name or some other piece of information.  This places value on the card.
  8. Keep your business cards up to date.  When any of your contact information changes; run, don’t walk, to your nearest printer for new cards. It is substandard business etiquette to hand out cards on which you have crossed off an old phone number and written in the new one.
  9. Don’t write notes to yourself on someone else’s business card during the exchange unless they appear relevant.  For example, if someone asks me to send a copy of my book, Manners That Sell, it makes perfect sense to write “Send book” on the back of that card. However, that would not be the time to write “good lead to ABC organization” on the card. I do that later and out of sight.
  10. Avoid appearing aggressive with business cards.  Wait to be asked for yours. If that isn’t happening, ask the other person for a card.  Reciprocity generally follows.

Knowing the rules of business card etiquette is just one more way to add the polish that builds profits.

Here’s to better business card etiquette!

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Do you need personal etiquette coaching or would you like to hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners? Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

Business Conversation Is A Balance

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Much has been written and said about the art of conversation. It comes easily to some, and for others, it is a struggle to get a dialogue underway and keep it going.  In the business world, you need good conversation skills to build relationships with your clients and your colleagues.  The more you know about your clients, the better you can serve them. The more you understand your colleagues, the better you can work with them.

Like so much in life, good conversation is a matter of maintaining balance.  It’s a blend of speaking and listening.  Paying attention to what other people are saying is key to making them feel important and to keeping a natural conversational flow.  Even the most well intentioned business people can kill a conversation without realizing what they have done.  Here a few of the classic types who have earned the title, “Conversation Killer.”

The Interrogator.  This is the person who read somewhere that asking questions is the secret to maintaining a dialogue.  The result is a barrage of questions fired at the other person until he is completely worn down.  By commenting and reflecting on what people are saying, you can avoid making them feel as if they are being grilled by the local police.

The Interrupter.  This person doesn’t take the time to hear the other person out.  It is frustrating and rude to jump into the middle of someone else’s sentence and the Interrupter never learns enough about the other person to create a real relationship.

The Advisor.
  This killer believes he is keeping the balance.  He has heard what was said and is now offering his advice.  The problem here is that nobody asked what he thought.  Keep your opinion to yourself unless you hear, “What would you do?” or “What do you think?”

The One-Upper.  This individual can hardly wait for you to finish your story so he can go you one better.  So you had a skiing accident and broke your ankle?  Well, he fell off a mountain and was in a body cast for a year.  Whatever you have to say, he’ll top it.

“Been there, done that.”  Think of how you feel when someone mutters that phrase.  It’s like a bucket of cold water on what might have been a warm conversation.  If the other person has been there and done that, there is nowhere left to go and nothing left to say.

Good conversation is give and take.  Everybody participates by listening to what is said, acknowledging it and offering a response.  Sometimes it feels like work, but after all, you are trying to establish rapport, build your business and make more money.  That is work.

Happy conversing!

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

Being A Good Conversationalist In Business

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Being good at conversation is a skill that you need to develop if you want to get ahead in business. It is relatively easy to learn even if you think of yourself as shy. If you do it right, the other person does the majority of the work and enjoys every minute of it. The secret is not to do all the talking but to focus on the other person and listen to what they have to say.

A good conversationalist asks questions. It is not necessary to act as if you know it all. If you don’t have a clue what the other person is talking about, ask. Not only will you learn something, but you will also stimulate more conversation.

Listen to the other person, and remember that listening is not a passive act. Use your mind as well as your ears so that you absorb what is being said. Unless you think about what you are hearing, you can’t respond appropriately.

Pay attention to body signals. If you look at other people when you are speaking, make eye contact with them and check out their posture, you will know if you are holding their attention or boring them to tears. When they look away from you or begin to slump over, you have either lost their interest or worn them down with words.

Make sure that the signals you send tell the person that you are listening. That means facing people, looking into their eyes, nodding from time to time, and paraphrasing or repeating what they have said.

Most importantly, wait until the other person has finished speaking before you start to talk. Resist the urge to complete someone else’s thought or jump in with a response mid-sentence. No matter how enlightening your next comment may be, the person who is rudely interrupted will not be impressed. Talk with intention, but listen intently.For more information on being a good conversationalist in business, you can purchase Networking Magic: Connecting With Confidence live on DVD. Being comfortable talking with others on a professional or personal level helps you develop more profitable relationships. Use the coupon code NETWORKING (a 20% discount) when you check out so you don’t leave the office without these must-have strategies.

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

Quick Meeting & Greeting Tips Part Two

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  • When meeting someone offer a firm handshake.
  • Never offer a bone-crushing grips or wimpy limp-wristed hand shakes.
  • In business you always introduce less important people, such as your boss, to more important people, such as a business prospect.
  • Pay attention to names when you meet people. If you concentrate and repeat the name as soon as you hear it you are more likely to remember.
  • Use first names of people you have just met only after they give you permission. Not everyone wants to be addressed informally at first.

Quick Meeting & Greeting Tips

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  1. Your goal when meeting other people is to make them feel comfortable and to put
    them ease so they will want to do business with you.
  2. Always stand up, make eye contact and smile when you meet someone.  This allows you to engage the person on an equal level – eye to eye.
  3. Introduce yourself immediately.  As soon as you approach people you don’t know or are approached by them, say who you are.

Stay tuned for more meeting & greeting tips.

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.