Do you assume that if anyone is interested in your business, they will contact you?
Do you expect everyone to remember you and what your business offers?
I am hoping that you have answered “No!”
To get results you need to put in some effort.
If all that you have done with LinkedIn is set up your profile and accepted connections when they have been emailed to you, do you honestly expect it to be working for you?
What I have begun to realise is that every time I am proactive on LinkedIn, I get a positive reaction.
I don’t think that LinkedIn is the most customer-friendly social networking site. I hope I am not the only one who has struggled to find out how to change things! It’s not as friendly or chatty as Facebook or Twitter, but I am starting to become aware of how powerful it.
Let me tell you about something that has just happened to me. For a long time, I have been fairly passive about LinkedIn.
In spite of my relative apathy towards LinkedIn, I couldn’t help noticing how many people read my blog posts and commented on my Tweets via LinkedIn.
I didn’t bother to fill in all my past work experiences because I didn’t think that it was really relevant to the coaching and training I am currently doing. I have retrained as a NLP Practitioner and Social Media was unheard of the last time I worked for a big company. How was it important that I had marketed pet food for a company that has since been bought out by Nestle? This year, as part of focussing on learning about blogging and LinkedIn, I eventually filled in my past work experience. Guess what! Within two weeks, I was contacted by an ex colleague.
I was absolutely delighted when I received his invitation to join his network. We live within a few miles of each other. We met up earlier this week and we may work together in the future: He has a very interesting project he is working on. Whether or not anything comes from it, is almost immaterial, I have reconnected with someone that I genuinely like as a person. Even though it was about 15 years since we had last seen each other, we had so much to talk about. His business: Coaching and Training!
Yesterday, I asked the question on Twitter:
The answer I received, that struck a chord was “Continuity“!
I am going to share some hints and tips about LinkedIn in the next few weeks. Today is day 1 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge, I have committed a post for every day in April, and so you are in for many more articles. What would you like to read about?
What type of stories do you enjoy hearing or reading? Stories are a powerful way for us to learn from other people’s experience. In my last post, I spoke about the art of storytelling and now I am telling another story. I would love to know what you think.
I delivered this speech at Guildford Speakers Club on Tuesday. This story is part of my Storytelling manual for Toastmasters International. The objectives of the project was to tell a touching story i.e. to evoke an emotion response from the audience. What emotion did you feel when you heard it? I would love to have your comments.
You have set up your own business. Your idea is going to conquer the world! You spent ages deliberating over your business plan, decided your price, product or service and how you were going to brand it. You designed your business cards, letterheads and logo, printed off leaflets. You thought you were all ready to go, but there is one key ingredient missing: Customers!
Now you can sit and wait for the phone to start ringing from the Yellow Page advert you placed or the expensive online directory or wait for people to respond from the direct mailing and the email you have sent out. You can rearrange your office furniture, organise your stationary, write up to do lists…
you can get out there and meet people.
There are a number of good reasons to network when you are starting up your business.
The quickest way to become more business-like is to spend time with business people. Remember you don’t have to get it right the first time. You don’t have to know all the answers. I learnt so much by the questions that stumped me initially when I started networking. I have also gained so much from the friendships and free advice that I have been given.
So here are 5 ways to overcome any nerves you may have about networking.
I belong to 4Networking because I like the flexiblity and friendliness of it and I run Guildford’s Ladies Who Latte group, which is a free networking group for women. There are plenty of networking meetings around, I could easily go to a breakfast meeting in the morning, morning group, lunch time group and an evening event every day of the week without having to travel more than a few miles! I would recommend that you find a group you like and go regularly so that you build up relationships with the people you meet. When you go regularly it feels more like walking into a room full of friends than networking. Have fun!
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Do you think of listening as something you just do or do you think it is a skill that can be developed? Do you think that the fact that you have two ears and that you can hear means that you can listen? Did you know that listening rather than speaking is probably the best way improve communication?
Recently, I sat down next to an elderly stranger at a neighbourhood BBQ, I had noticed that he was sitting slightly apart from everyone else and other than the occasional functional question, such as “Do you have enough to eat?”, nobody was speaking to him.
I asked him a few questions and let him speak.
I thought I would pay him the courtesy of listening and it was wonderful to let him speak without feeling the need to fill in any pauses with words. And he spoke and spoke and spoke.
He had lived in the area for a long time and he spoke about changes that happened and it was interesting. I also found out that he had lost his wife in the last couple of years and they had been together for over 30 years and I wondered what the world must be like to him now.
How quiet his house must seem. How silent his home must be with only the chatter in his head for company. I have no idea how long I listened for, but when I stopped I was exhausted, but inwardly calm.
I made my excuses from the gathering and walked home. I didn’t want to fill my head with noise of social pleasantries and idle chitchat. I knew I had made a difference to his day and he in turn had taught me a valuable lesson in the power of listening with a closed mouth and open mind.
I am always amazed at the times when I let my coaching clients talk and all I do is listen with my full attention, how much grateful they are. I think that sometimes asking questions when a client is speaking interferes with the flow. Sometimes being able to talk without interruption can be healing. Listening is a gift that you give to another person. There is power in acknowledging that the other person is a human being and accepting them for who they are.
I am not the world’s best listener! I am human after all. I would love to say that I have listening sussed, but it wouldn’t be true. Sometimes I just nod appropriately while my children speak, lost in my own thoughts. Sometimes in a meeting I will find that someone has asked me a question and I realise that I have not been paying attention. Sometimes I am so busy waiting for a gap in conversation, so I can tell my story that I forget to listen to the other person. And sometimes I barge into conversations because I am so excited about something, that politeness goes out of the window.
There is an art to listening; nobody becomes a great artist overnight! Here are some of the ways that I can think of to practise listening:
You have two ears, two eyes and 1 mouth and you should use them in that proportion
In the conversation, let the other person fill in the gaps
Have you ever listened to a speech paying attention to the speaker’s grammar? Or listened out to find clues whether people are visual, auditory or kinaesthetic? Have you listened to someone only paying attention to their vocal variety and listened to the emphasis they put on certain words? Have you ever listened to someone and wondered what they really mean rather than just the words they are saying?
Rather than just thinking about yourself, think about the speaker and get curious!
How can you listen properly if there is another conversation going on at the same time?
I would love to hear your suggestions about improving your listening skills (and any guilty confessions)!
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This morning I saw this tweet. “American Airlines saved $40,000 in 1987 by eliminating one olive from each salad served first class.” It got me thinking. It is so often the little things that make big differences. Who would have thought that one little olive would make a difference?
I have heard that the cumulative effect of Lattes is quite phenomenal. One Latte a day doesn’t sound expensive. Who would notice £2 – £2.50? It’s your daily treat, isn’t it? But think about it. Let’s say you have a Latte once every weekday, so that is £10 – £12.50 a week, still not too bad! But in a month it starts mounting up to £42 – £52.50 or even worse, £520 – £650 a year!
Last week I read an article that said that half a muffin negates the average workout that you do in an hour at the gym! Who eats half a muffin? One hour of sweat wasted! Who would have thought that by treating yourself after a workout, you might actually gain weight? One treat a day can make a big difference to your weight over a year.
One little treat a day can make a big difference to your bank account or your waistline!
Now before you all rush out and deprive yourself of absolutely everything, it is worth considering that it is the little things that can make a big difference to achieving your dreams too. Every mountain only gets climbed by taking the first step. One step doesn’t sound much or look much, but add all those steps together and amazing things can be achieved.
So here is a question for you:
What is the one small thing you can do today that will make a big difference to your business by next year?
Making a business call, mailing a newsletter, tweeting about a course you’re running doesn’t sound like much, does it? But think about the accumulative effect that it can have. Most sales (about 60%) only happen after the fifth contact with someone, most people (88%) give up long before then. Imagine if you considered each contact as the small thing that you need to do today.
One olive can make a big difference! What is the one thing you can leave out or add to your day today?
Have you ever thought that where you stand or where you sit might make a difference to how you communicate?
Communication is not just about the message you give someone, the meaning of communication is the response you get. People will respond to what they think you meant which may or may not be an accurate interpretation of your intended meaning. Have you noticed that sometimes you say something and you don’t quite get the reaction you are expecting? Have you ever had anyone acting defensively to something you meant in a nice way? Have you ever have had someone ignore what you said? Have you ever had the impression that someone is hearing “Blah, blah, and blah” instead of what you are saying?
Maybe you should be thinking of geometry!
Part of your communication is where you physically are in relation to the other person, so how about starting to think about the following?
Have you ever met a space invader? Someone who stands just too close to you and when you step back, they step forward? It makes you feel uncomfortable, doesn’t it?
We all have a personal space around us which is a space we psychologically consider to be our territory. You will let someone you feel emotionally closer to you physically closer to you. We feel comfortable when friends stand a certain distance from us, but distinctly uncomfortable when a stranger stands at the same distance. If someone stands too close to you, you react by being defensive and you will probably step backwards or lean your body away from them. If someone stands too far away, you lose the sense of connection with them. At a certain distance away, it might feel as though they are addressing other people or are lecturing you.
We use distance in our language about relationships. Think about what you might mean when you say “I feel close to you” or “Why are you so distant?”
Try this out with a friend and get them to move closer and further away and notice the difference it makes. Get them to make a simple statement of “I want to talk to you” and notice how it feels different when it is said at different distances.
Think about what you do at home. When you speak to your partner or children what distance are you away from them when you speak to them? Within touching distance? Across the room? From another room? Think about the difference it would make if you spoke to your children about cleaning their room from a personal connected space versus a public disassociated space. Besides you wouldn’t have to shout!
When you speak to someone, it is also worth thinking about what angle to take. I mean the physical angle between you! The difference between facing someone head on and at an angle from them is very noticeable! You can share the same vision. You can see things from their perspective. You are more “on their side”. Whereas, from in front of them you tend to see things from your side and you see the other person as being different from you. It can be confrontational; whatever, your true intention. Try this out! Get a friend to stand a distance away directly in front of you and get them to walk towards you. Notice at what point you start feeling uncomfortable. Get your friend to do the same thing at a 45° angle (somewhere between directly in front of you and directly to the side of you). Notice the difference. You will find that someone can get physically closer to you from an angle without you feeling uncomfortable.
As a NLP practitioner, I have been taught to angle myself to my client, so that we both can see each other and feel comfortable in a close connected way. I will sometimes move around to next to my client to see things from their viewpoint. This is useful to remember triangles in any communication situation. There is your perspective, their perspective and an objective perspective. You want to be able to keep your eye on both the other person and your shared goal or problem. By remembering that there are three points of a triangle, you will remember to open your body language to include the third point, which could be a shared dream or a shared problem.
When you are negotiation with someone, it is worth remembering to take a different angle. It helps break the “us” and “them” position. Even if you are forced to sit opposite someone with a desk or a table in the way, you can angle your body for more harmonious discussions.
You know the saying “Getting on someone’s good side” or “Seeing someone’s bad side”? We have preferred sides. For some people it is their right side and some people it is their left side. You may have noticed that people tend to favour a particular side of the bed, walk on a particular side of you and sit in the same place at the table.
Most of us have a critical voice. It’s that voice in our head that tells us unhelpful things like “You are stupid” or “You always mess up”. Have you ever thought where that voice is coming from? And I mean literally “where” the voice is coming from?! Does it come from your left side, right side or somewhere else? If it comes from your left side, then your left side is your “bad” side. You will probably be more defensive and react differently to questions asked from that side than from your right side. If the voice sounds like it is coming from the right, then your right side will be your “bad” side. It is useful to remember that you might get a better reaction from someone when you move to their other side. For some people the difference is quite noticeable, so it is worth making sure that you are on their “right” side when you communicate with them.
What an exciting day I had this week! I had a slot on the radio!
It all started with a tweet a few weeks ago to BBC Surrey. I asked them if they covered Farnham and if I could talk about Farnham Speakers Club which had just been launched. Nick Wallis asked me to email him and told me that he was interested in me coming in to talk. Then it all went quiet.
At the end of last week an email arrived from the Breakfast show’s producer Jack Fiehn asking if I come in this week. Yay! I was thrilled and excited and a little bit nervous. I had never been into a radio studio before and now I was going to be speaking about public speaking. What happened if I sounded really nervous or filled my speech with filler words? A definite no-no in the Toastmaster world! I had once been on the radio as a spokesperson for my children’s school’s PTA. That time I had been in my bedroom speaking on the phone. This time was different: I was going in to a studio with a presenter and encouraging people to gain confidence through public speaking!
I had a chance to do a dummy run at the Guildford Speakers Club meeting the night before the radio slot. There are a number of advanced manuals that you can do after you reach your Competent Communicator level at Toastmasters and the Public Relations Manual was perfect! The second project was the Radio Chat Show. It involved a role play with a “host of a radio show”. I had to prepare a short speech about promoting the organisation (Farnham Speakers Club specifically and Toastmasters International in general), followed by a question and answer session. It was not allowed to be rehearsed! In addition, my boyfriend phoned me up at lunch-time and fired questions at me as extra preparation.
When I spoke to the show’s producer he had mentioned that Nick wanted to speak about what made a good speaker, so I focussed my short talk on that at the club evening. What was flattering was that most of the audience hadn’t realised that I had no idea what the questions were going to be and had thought we had rehearsed the Q & A section! I had done as much preparation as I could.
Driving to my interview in the morning, I listened to the show only to hear that a public speaking coach was coming in. The expert was going to give a nervous speaker who was in the studio a five minute speech makeover and everyone would be able to hear the results. Gulp!!! No pressure!
I arrived at the studio and was shown in. I was supposed to be kept apart from my nervous guinea pig. Wendy Amos had made the mistake of replying to a tweet that BBC Surrey had sent out the night before. They had asked for any nervous speakers who would like some hints and tips. At 7 am she had been asked if she could come into the studio, not realising that she would be speaking. She was asked to write a one minute introduction for herself that she would normally use when she was networking, including some topical information. I had to fight against my instincts to calm her down. Wendy had been given a brilliant opportunity to promote her business on the radio and despite her obvious anxiety she was ready to play!
I sat there and thought about how much I liked a challenge! The one thing I have always loved about NLP is the speed that you can do things. I had experience of coaching, experience of networking and experience of mentoring speakers through Toastmasters. I knew that the quickest change I could make was changing her state from being nervous to feeling calm. I also knew that breathing makes a big difference to your nerves and your voice!
We watched the clock! When we were called in, we were shown into the studio and met Nick Wallis. It seemed as if we barely had time to sit down, position ourselves next to our microphones, put on our headphones and we were on! Nick introduced us and asked me a few questions about Farnham Speakers Club and Toastmasters International and then introduced the social experiment. Wendy had to read her introduction that she would use networking then it was over to me to give her some hints and tips.
My coaching mode kicked in and by calming Wendy, I relaxed. It is amazing where you pull inspiration from. Nick was featuring all time favourite speeches as a build up for me coming in, which made me think of John F Kennedy and a story I had been told in my Master Practitioner course about his speech coach, so I used that. I had recently written a blog “I and you” which was about the use of you to connect with the audience, so I used that. We were then given a minute while they had the traffic report to “Rewrite” the speech. Obviously, it is impossible to rewrite the script, so we quickly changed the order of the networking pitch. Given a few minutes, I would have got her to change most of her “I” statements to “you” statements, but there was no time! So all I could do was get her to relax as much as possible before she delivered her second version. She sounded and looked so much more confident when she delivered it. Yay! Nick played applause and it was all over!
The producer was very pleased with how it had turned out. Wendy is planning to come along to Guildford Speakers because she lives close by and she popped along to my networking meeting this morning. It was great fun and I am ready for the next time! Does anyone want to interview me?If you would like to hear the radio show click
How well do you listen? Last Friday, I went along to a networking event and what happened made me think about listening skills. I asked a fellow networker what she did. What followed was a steady stream of sales pitch. After five minutes, she took a breath and asked me what I did. As soon as I had uttered that I was a coach and trainer, the flood continued. Have you experienced someone speaking at you? She told me how her company could help me, but other than my title, she didn’t know anything about me. After another five minutes she shoved a business card into my hand and told me that she had to go meet someone else! I felt a bit shell-shocked. Now since I do a fair bit of networking I happen to know about four people who do something very similar to her. I have a very good idea about what she does, but do you think I felt any rapport with her? Do you think I would ever do business with her?
I find it amazing how many times people will tell you what you should do or how they can help you without the slightest interest in who you are and what you want. How do you know about anyone unless you ask them and listen to their answer?
Never underestimate the power of listening with your full attention. Most people only listen for a gap in conversation so that they can speak. They appear to be listening, but they are thinking about what they are going to say. When someone listens to you as though you are the only person in the room, you feel very connected to them and you feel valued as a person.
You don’t have to have great oratory skills to have a good conversation. You have two ears and one mouth and those are the proportions we should be using them! The best listeners are generally considered to be the best conversationalists. Try asking people a question such as “What brought you to this event today?” and listen with attention to their answer.
Find out what impact listening can have for yourself.
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Faces hold valuable clues to our inner emotions and motivation. Wouldn’t you love to be a mind reader? The clues are all there for everyone to see, but most people don’t notice. Most people don’t pay attention to those small facial movements, those fleeting looks, those involuntary expressions which give away our true thoughts and feelings.
When I am coaching someone, I quite often see quick looks on people’s faces, small twitches, eye movements etc. Using NLP, you learn that eye movement can convey thought processes and often you can watch as someone has internal dialogue with themselves, thinks back on the past and imagines the future. My mind was blown away with Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Blink“. He introduced me to a Psychologist called Paul Ekman and then shortly afterwards, Sky had a programme called “Lie to me” which is all based on Eckman’s work. Now before I can start talking about Ekman, I really need to begin with Charles Darwin.
Charles Darwin said “I have no great quickness of apprehension or wit…my power to follow a long and purely abstract train of thought is very limited… (But) I am superior to the common run of men in noticing things which easily escape attention, and in observing them carefully.”
In 1872 Charles Darwin published a book called “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals”. It was an instant bestseller, probably based on the success of his “Origins of Species”, but it met with quite a lot of resistance. He included animals. Did animals have emotions and were their expressions like those of humans? He also claimed a very radical thought for the time, that facial expressions are universal, he believed very strongly in the “unity of mankind”. This was the book that initiated the study of human behaviour, possibly the first book of psychology. He was the first person to show people photographs and ask them what emotion they saw. He noticed small changes that showed the difference between anger and love, disgust and shame, grief and horror. And yet for almost 90 years, his book was largely forgotten about.
Let’s fast forward to the 1960’s to a man called Paul Ekman. Paul Ekman was interested in studying faces. He wanted to know where there was a common set of rules that govern the facial expressions that human being made. The conventional thought in psychology at that time was that expressions were culturally determined. In other words, he wanted to know if expressions were learnt or innate. So he set off around the world with a set of photographs of men and women showing different expressions. He travelled to Japan, Brazil, and Argentina and into the jungles of the Far East and guess what?!! Everyone agreed what the expressions meant.
He realised that he needed to unpack the face and together with Wallace Friesen, they looked at all the facial muscles and logged all the possible expressions made with 5 muscles group, over 10 000 combinations. This exercise took 7 years and caused a fair amount of pain, if they could move the muscle voluntarily, they went to someone who injected the muscle with an electrically stimulate the muscle. A lot of the combinations were meaningless, but they ended up with 3000 recognisable emotions. They called the rules for reading and interpreting them the FACIAL ACTION CODING SYSTEM or FACS
One interesting thing that emerged during the seven years that it is impossible to make an expression without feeling the emotion, the expression generates the same physiological changes that the emotion does, e.g. anger, anguish Some expression had both Ekman and Friesen feeling dreadful.
So not only can you read what is going on in someone’s mind, but by recreating the face you get the emotions
Another study in Germany has backed up this finding; they showed two groups of people the same cartoons. The first group had to watch them with a pencil between their teeth (and enforced smile) and the second group had to hold the pencil between their lips (so they couldn’t smile). Guess which group found the cartoons significantly more funny?
Now you may be asking what has all of this to do with Shrek?
Well, FACS has become very useful for a large number groups including psychiatrist and law enforcement officers as well as computer animators at Pixar (Toy Story) and DreamWorks, yes you guessed it, Shrek. Did you every wonder how animation had got to be so good? We can relate to the cartoon figures such as Shrek, because we recognise the human emotion signals that they are displaying.
So next time you find yourself empathising with a cartoon think of Darwin and Paul Ekman.
I have just spent the last 4 days on a course with Robert Dilts about Transforming Beliefs with NLP. One of the many interesting things that came up during the course, was the idea of getting yourself in the zone or in the best possible state you could be at the moment for coaching. Athletes are used to the concept of being at their best level to give peak performances.
I had noticed that when I work with clients I feel calm and collected, connected and far more open and non-judgement about my clients that I would do say with my family or friends, I have been going into the zone without realising it. We spent alot of time working on getting ourselves and our coachee into what Robert Dilts calls the “Coach State” (Centred, Open, Aware, Connected and able to Hold the coaching state). It’s funny how adding a few extra tweeks to what you are naturally doing, pushes things to a whole new level. My challenge will be what language to use with my clients to get them in their best possible state too, without getting too New Agey.
Now anyone who knows me will know that I am not continuously in a zen like state. I am not a guru sitting on top of a mountainside. I am a human being and a mother of 3 and I am not perfect. But wouldn’t it be nice to be in the zone, more of the time?