As well as working at MOO, I coach people on Public Speaking/Presentations. Helping people to connect with clients and colleagues in an authentic and meaningful way is where my practice truly resides.
My approach is to split confident communication into two different areas: Engagement and Connection. Engagement is head based - knowledge of the product, price, processes etc. Connection is quite different and is heart based.
The differentiation between engagement and connection is often starkly seen in presentations and pitches. Why does your competitor win the work when your engagement was great or indeed better than theirs? It’s simple in a lot of cases – you didn’t connect.
Think about it. If we only required engagement why do we invite prospective employees in for a face-to-face interview? Because we need to double check that what they wrote in their CV is true (engagement) and then see if they fit into the team and (let’s be honest) discover if we like them (connection). That balance of engagement and connection makes for a great communicator. However many employers hire ‘engaged’ employees who find it difficult to genuinely connect at the likes of networking events.
How to connect
So how do I connect then? Well if you don’t go within you’ll go without. This is an inside job. One of the best situations to practice making connections is attending a (very much dreaded) networking event. There are many reasons to avoid these events, like the fear of being judged, looking foolish, being snubbed etc. However the general theme is centred around the notion that they don’t feel good enough.
The more people I talk to about this issue, the more I’m convinced that you could substitute the word ‘good’ for ‘professional’. Yes you have to be professional but that doesn’t mean being wooden, insincere or cold. In my view, being professional means that you need to be:
1. Fit for purpose (qualifications and experience to do the job)
2. Focussed (the ability to pay attention to the job in hand)
3. Fastened in (passionate about your job)
4. Friendly (approachable, empathic)
5. Fun (able to self deprecate and enjoy rather than endure your day)
So don’t hide behind old perceptions of what professional once meant to you. Find the genuine passion you have for your job and wallow in it. That passion is contagious and will help you connect. Be kind and treat others as you’d like to be treated and enjoy rather than endure your day. All these little tweaks to your approach will encourage connection.
Finally, a great way to connect with someone is to add value or become a resource. Before you attend a networking event, sales meeting or trade show, check out a news or trade journal article that might be of general interest to most people at the event. Then talk about it and offer to send it on to those you meet. This is an effective way to connect and engage!
Written by Matthew Davies