Word on the street... We value the wrong things.

I saw a Tweet a couple of weeks ago that I can’t stop thinking about.

Have you ever read something or heard something that just sticks with you?

Words you don’t know if you agree with or disagree with, but you carry them around like a kaleidoscope—holding them up to the light at different angles to take in all the ways the words can be understood and seen.

The Tweet that stuck with me was from Adam Draper, host of the Boost VC podcast, and he said:

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While there is a lot to unpack in there (and so little time because it’s Monday and this is a newsletter), the idea that we potentially undervalue our networks is worth our focused attention.

This week, we are going to chip away at this idea a little further and see what implications Draper’s thought has for us as we strive to be superconnectors in every part of our lives.

Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it ... he who doesn’t ... pays it.
— Albert Einstein

WHAT SCIENCE SAYS ABOUT OUR NETWORKS

So is Adam right? Do we undervalue our networks?

To answer that question, I think we need to do a little introspection.

How do we view the peripheral people in our lives? Do we value our connection with our mailman? Or the barista? Or the custodian at our office?

Do we make intentional contact with the other parents in our kids’ classroom? Or with the TSA agent we see every Monday morning on our weekly business trip? Or with the old lady who sits 3 rows in front of us at church every Sunday?

As a part of our Contact Mapping community, I know you value relationships and personal connection, but do you undervalue the potential greatness that a large network can provide?

It turns out people who have a large network—even one with weak ties—actually are happier.

In a 2014 study, researchers found that people with a large number of acquaintances—a friend at the gym, local barista, favorite UPS delivery man, etc.—feel a strong connection to their community and are happier.

So as you think about your network, do you include and invest in peripheral acquaintances in your group?

Gillian Sandstrom, a psychology lecturer at the University of Essex, calls this a “network of low-stakes connection.” And she argues that these relationships actually meet our need for belonging in more significant ways than people realize.

“A lot of us think it’s not worth our time to have those kinds of interactions, that they can’t possibly provide any meaning,” Dr. Sandstrom said. “We’re focused on whatever is next and we don’t stop and take that second to enjoy the moment.”


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WHAT DO WE OVERVALUE?

While the idea of undervaluing networks was intriguing enough for me to rethink my daily interactions with every human I encounter, I was also struck by the idea of overvaluing isolated achievements.

“How true,” I thought, as I considered the number of special days and holidays that cause us to celebrate in excess—graduation, award ceremonies, weddings, promotions, buying a house, birthdays, etc.

Each pinnacle moment was just that...a MOMENT. 

Sure, today you're a first-time homeowner, but a month from now you’re just the guy forking out $5K for a new water heater.

Yesterday, you were the team lead, but next week you start a new job and are just the girl delivering coffee and shuffling documents between your coworkers.

And sure, those days were great celebrations, but when it comes to investing your time, energy and celebratory enthusiasm into something of value, might we shift our focus from the temporal moment and continue to make small investments into things that compound:

  • Befriending a stranger at your kids’ soccer game who you discover can connect you with the right realtor to sell your house.

  • Talking more than just health concerns with your doctor, only to find out you have the perfect job opportunity for her little sister.

  • Consistently engaging in conversations with your mailman only to build a lasting friendship over time.

In his book, The Algebra of Happiness, Scott Galloway—like Draper—asserts that this investment in relationships has exponential benefits.

He says, “Take a ton of pictures, text your friends stupid things, check in with old friends as often as possible, express admiration to co-workers, and every day, tell as many people as you can that you love them. A couple of minutes every day — the payoff is small at first, and then it’s immense.”

Social scientists call this the 1% rule. Essentially, if you commit to being just 1% better every day for a year at building these low-stakes relationships, you’ll experience 37 times the benefit in return.

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We get to choose how we spend our time and energy. And if you’re like most of us, you want the greatest return on your investment.

To become a superconnector that means investing into all relationships in your life—including the peripheral and low-stakes ones. Because just like a good mutual fund, they can compound for a great return.

Whether low-stakes or high-stakes, don’t forget to map your contact!

Digital Communications

Have you ever had a text conversation that went something like this:

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What’s your initial response?

If you’re like most of us, you’re thinking something like,

“Come on, John! Throw me a bone. I got the report done 2 days ahead of schedule and all you’re concerned about is me CCing you on the email?! Also, would it kill you to spell out ‘thanks’ to show your appreciation? Not to mention it took you almost a whole day to respond!”

Meanwhile, John is actually grateful for your work, he just didn’t match your tone via text.

What if instead, the conversation went like this?

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Are you mad at John now? Probably not.

We talk a lot about in-person conversations and face-to-face meet-ups, but this week is all about the power of your written words.

The follow-up email and quickly written note are just as impactful and meaningful in developing that new relationship as your friendly smile.

When you’re building new relationships—or nurturing old ones—it’s critical to be aware of your tone in the written word. Good news...we’ve got some tools to help.


Most of the problems of life that be,

Are caused by the tone of speech only,

It is never what is said in reality,

But how it’s said that causes harm truly.
— Munindra (Munnan) Misra, Eddies of Life

WHY CONVEYING TONE IS DIFFICULT

First off, don’t worry. We weren’t designed to do the majority of our communication in writing.

Actually, here are 6 times a phone call or in-person meet up is better than sending an email or text.

But, I digress. Back to written communication.

Albert Mehrabian, a professor at UCLA, has spent the greater part of his tenure studying how people communicate. In one study, he found that in a face-to-face conversation, communication is 55% body language, 38% vocal tone, pitch and emphasis, and a mere 7% is the literal content of the message.

When face-to-face, we’re constantly taking in non-verbal cues—and, as Mehrabian argues, that makes up well over half of how we understand a conversation.

Knowing the literal content makes up only 7% of an effectively communicated message, what are we supposed to do when it comes to crafting an email or text?


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TIPS FOR TONE SUCCESS

Awareness is key. By identifying the tone of a text or email, you can craft an appropriate response.

So what kind of tones are there? In Grammarly’s Tone 101 article, they deliver some prime examples to help you identify the tone of a message.

“Let’s say you were invited to someone’s party. Here are a few examples of tones that can be employed in a response:

Enthusiastic: I’d love to!
Casual: Sounds good [thumbs up emoji]
Formal: I would be happy to join you.
Irreverent: But I HATE parties [winking/smiling tongue out emoji]
Joyful: Yay! Yes!
Solemn/Serious: Thank you for the invite, but I’m afraid I can’t at this time.
Hostile: Why would you even invite me, Susan?
Cautious: …What time does it start?
Indifferent: kk”

While you can always put your personal spin on a response, use the list above to determine how your written message can be received.

Here are 5 tips for success:

  1. Choose Your Words (and Emojis) Wisely: When in doubt—opt for a more positive tone. Without the non-verbal cues from in-person contact, people are more likely to read a text and assume the worst. By choosing to put a more positive spin on a message—either through an uplifting emoji or heartfelt exclamation point or enthusiastic word choice, you minimize potential trouble in response.

  2. Punctuation Matters: Have you ever received an email or text that failed to employ even ONE non-controversial period? While you shouldn’t end every sentence with 5 exclamation points (unless you are legitimately enthused about your team winning the big game), a comma, period, or—gasp—even an em dash will go a long way in helping your reader make sense of your message.

  3. Know Your Audience: If you’re reaching out to a new friend, then casual and friendly is the way to go. But if you’re replying to an executive at your company, it would be best to respond with something more grammatically substantial than just “yep.”

  4. Read it Out Loud: This little trick is an empathy check. By saying your words out loud—like you would in a face-to-face conversation—it’s much easier to identify potential pitfalls from the receiver. If you wouldn’t say the written words to their face, then go ahead and redraft that message.

  5. TL;DR? Just Call: If your email or text is starting to rival a newspaper article, then pick up the phone. Unless you’re intentionally writing a book, don’t belabor your point any longer in an email or text.

As a superconnector, it’s important to hone all of your communication skills—both verbal and written. By becoming an expert in tone, you’ll eliminate the chance for delivering a misconstrued text message or unintentionally hurting feelings.

Use these 5 tips to step up your written communication game and keep building those meaningful relationships!

Listen To Your Mom

As every commercial, marketing email, and holiday section at Target will remind you—it’s Mother’s Day on Sunday.

It’s a day we’re reminded to cherish all the gifts our moms have given us (namely, the gift of life), and remember them in spirit or in person.

Whether or not your mom is still with us on the earth, one thing is almost certain: she taught you something. As I was reflecting on this upcoming celebration day, I thought it was timely to share a few relationship lessons I’ve learned from my mom.

It turns out, my mom’s persistent mutterings into my 7-year-old ear weren’t just lip service to help me be a better human—they are actually supported by science!

So yes, in case you’re wondering, keep reading to see how moms are always right.

If at first you don’t succeed, do it like your mother told you.

— Author unknown

TIPS FROM MOM

Moms are beacons of wisdom. But to children, their repetitive suggestions and reminders can often feel overbearing and irritating.

The truth is, whether they realize their greatness or not, moms know their stuff. While on the surface these typical motherly suggestions may be simple enough and downright obvious, it turns out science has A LOT to say about some common motherly mutterings.

So here they are in their simplistic but profound glory, 4 Relationship Tips From My Mom:

  1. Be kind

  2. Show gratitude

  3. Put others before yourself

  4. Listen to your parents

As you’re about to see, mothers are basically behavioral scientists because the research shows moms know a thing or two about relationships.


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THE SCIENCE BEHIND MOM’S TIPS

What’s interesting about these motherly reminders is they’ve been shown to have lasting health benefits for us and positive effects on our relationships. So while mommas out there may be muttering common sentiments that have been repeated for generations, keep it going—you are raising better humans.

1. Be Kind: It goes without saying—kind people build better relationships. But beyond building relationships, science has found kindness is also good for your health. Even performing just one act of kindness a day increases the amount of serotonin and oxytocin that floods your body—making you calmer and happier.

Check out this quick video on the science of kindness:

2. Show gratitude: It’s almost Mother’s Day, it makes sense to prepare some thoughtful words to thank her for her influence on your life, but recent studies have pointed out how people expressing gratitude often underestimate the impact of their words.

In a study published in Psychological Science (and summarized in the New York Times) researchers asked a group of 100 people to write thank you notes. They had the writers of the thank you notes rate on a scale of 1-5 how the note would be received (1 being poorly or awkwardly and 5 being ecstatically). Out of 100 writers, most predicted the receiver’s reaction would be around a 3.

However, when the recipients received these notes, their reactions were ALL between 4 and 5.

Don’t underestimate the benefits of gratitude—you never know what a thank you note (that takes 1 minute to write) will mean to the recipient.

3. Put others before yourself: This idea is known to many in the business world as servant leadership. My mom is the epitome of servant leadership—if there is one thing I’ve learned from my mom, it is this.

Robert Greenleaf published an essay in which he defined Servant Leadership:

"The servant-leader is servant first...It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people's highest priority needs are being served.”

Since publishing this piece in 1970, there have been numerous studies on companies who employ this type of leadership model and the results are astounding.

On an even simpler level, when it comes to networking and building relationships, this type of servant-leadership style of engagement is still impactful. Whether you’re deferring to the other person’s needs for meeting times or places, offering to foot the bill, or simply ensuring you’re helping that person become the best version of themselves, putting their needs before yours will always reap rewards.

4. Listen to your parents: Recently we’ve been talking a lot about listening here at Contact Mapping...talking about listening—that seems oxymoronic when I say it that way, but you get the idea. And the reason is simple—to be a superconnector, you MUST be a super-listener.

Karl Pillemer, a gerontologist, met with a group of college students at an Ivy League university to share the work he does with the older generation. The most pressing concerns from the students focused on one simple question: “Do I need a purpose to be successful? And how do I find it?”

Pillemer was struck by the confusion that surrounded these bright, earnest, and enthusiastic students. His suggestion to them was simple: Find a maven. And listen to them.

He told the students to find a person who was sitting on the other end of a career or a life who had built the dream they are embarking on now and LISTEN TO THEM. Take heed of what they’ve done, what missteps they’ve made, how they’ve treated others and make a plan from there.

It turns out mom’s suggestion to “Listen to your parents” actually extends beyond an immediate home. It looks like listening to all people who have gone before us and walked a path that we dream of.

Well, my friends, there you have it—Mom IS always right. Science even says so.

Combine Momma's tips with the Contact Mapping app and build meaningful relationships with everyone you meet!

Become a Master of Conversation

What type of conversationalist are you?


Are you the “Razzle Dazzler”? You know, the charismatic one who wants to WOW the crowd through entertainment, humor, and storytelling.

Or are you the “Wham Bam Close The Deal Ma’am”? The kind who comes in hot to a new encounter ready to make a sale.

Maybe you’re the “Name Dropper”? The super-connected one who wants to make sure YOU know that THEY know the most important person WE should ALL know.

Are you the “Inquisitive Interrogator”? The one whose question-asking abilities rival talk show hosts and private investigators.

Or possibly you’re the “Timid Talker”? The one who’d rather be conversed AT than conversed WITH.

The truth is, no matter what type of conversationalist you are, there are practical steps you can take to be a “Compassionate and Charismatic Conversationalist.” Let’s flush them out together, shall we?

If there was one key to happiness in love and life and possibly even success, it would be to go into each conversation you have with this commandment to yourself front and foremost in your mind: ‘Just Listen’ and be more interested than interesting, more fascinated than fascinating, and more adoring than adorable.
— Mark Goulston

Ready to become a MASTER of conversation?

Boy, do we have a course for you! We've been hard at work putting together a POWERFUL training course for you with one of the world's best teacher's on the art and science of listening, John Milton Fogg. We have early bird pricing just for you!


CONVERSATIONAL PITFALLS
While it’s impossible to pinpoint and name every type of conversationalist, I’m sure you can think of a person that fits each of the archetypes mentioned above.


Before we talk about what TO DO, let’s take a quick look at some common conversational pitfalls that may plague each one:


“Razzle Dazzler”: While captivating and charismatic, the Razzle Dazzler has the potential to lose its luster quickly if they aren’t careful. Sure, a timely joke is fun for a crowd, but over time, people want to be entertained LESS and connected with MORE.

If you’re a Razzle Dazzler, prepare yourself to simmer down and invite others into your spotlight in a meaningful way—or risk leaving the conversation having learned nothing about your new contacts.

“Wham Bam Close The Deal Ma’am”: Buyer beware, this type of conversationalist has selling on their mind and doesn’t take no for an answer. While their product may be life-changing, their approach is life-draining.

If you’re a seller at heart and come in hot to groups with only business on your mind—let’s take a moment and breath. Selling is like dating—the buyers want to be wooed, not creepily stalked. So lighten up a bit and make a connection before you pitch a deal.

“Name Dropper”: We get it. You know A LOT OF PEOPLE. And they are important. And by proximity, you are amazing as well. And that’s great—you’re well-connected. But before you start rattling off your hot list of contacts, it might behoove you to engage in a little market research and get to know your audience.

Do you know who you’re talking to? It might just be the next CEO of Google, but if you’re too busy throwing around other names, you risk losing out on making another meaningful connection.

“Inquisitive Interrogator”: You know how to make people talk—whether you’re simply inquiring about someone’s personal life or asking about their next business deal.

And while an Inquisitive Interrogator has potential to build meaningful connections by really getting to know someone, just remember, conversation is a 2-way street. If you aren’t willing to share vulnerably with others, your questioning may seem nosier and less sincere.

“Timid Talker”: Large groups are a necessary evil for you. You understand the value of networking, but would rather someone talk at you instead of with you. If you aren’t careful and choose not to dance the dance of conversation, you might just end up as a wallflower—which no one wants for you.

Step out of your comfort zone even ever-so-slightly and keep the dance going—it’s more fun when everyone participates!


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TIPS AND TRICKS

So how do we do it? How do we take the strong suits of each archetype and create a conversational superhero who effortlessly flows through a conversation?

Dr. Karl Albrecht from Boston University argues that all conversationalists should follow the Rule of 3.

He asserts that every conversation is filled with 3 types of sentences. Your job, as an expert conversationalist, is to juggle those 3 types of sentences throughout a conversation—ensuring all 3 sentence types are used equally.

The 3 types of sentences used in a conversation are:

  1. Declarations: These are statements of fact (or are at least spoken as if they are fact, even if someone is simply stating an opinion). Razzle Dazzlers, Wham Bams, and Name Droppers use this type of sentence a lot—“This product is the best one around!” “He is the person for the job!” “You won’t be able to live without this!”

  2. Questions: These are...well...questions. The Inquisitive Interrogator is the master in the question game, even though the Wham Bams probably use questions frequently too—“Where are you from? What do you do for work? Which of these products would you like to purchase?”

  3. Conditionals: These statements are gentler ways to share opinions and views. Most conditional statements start with “I think…” or “I feel…” or “It seems to me…” The Timid Talker uses a large number of conditionals in conversations as a way of building trust with the new contact. Meanwhile, the Razzle DazzlersWham Bams, and Name Droppers rarely use conditional sentences for fear of losing credibility on a topic.

By using all three types of sentences in a conversation, you can be seen as a trusted voice who equally values and respects other peoples’ opinions—this is what we want after all! This delicate balancing act will propel you into “Compassionate and Charismatic Conversationalist” status in no time!

How to Avoid Small Talk and Have a Real Conversation

“How are you?”... the most common greeting. When we hear it, it’s as though we switch into a “previously taped” dialog where we bounce our way through the standard pleasantries, literally without a thought.

For many people, it’s impossible to imagine a conversation with a stranger without small talk. These are the friendly and safe everyday topics we tend to fall back on if we’re feeling insecure about our conversation skills or the possibility of awkward silence.

While small talk may seem safe, in practice it does more harm than good. What mostly follows small talk is an absence of meaningful communication and a lost opportunity. You may have managed to navigate the interaction without any uncomfortable moments, but you also missed out on any chance of a real connection.

But fear not! Getting away from the same old automatic questions and sparking more authentic connections might be easier than you think. To avoid the empty topics and questions such as the weather, traffic, and the infamous “How are you,” here’s what you should do:

Tips for Starting a Conversation

1) Be aware and observant. Moving beyond the same old small talk is largely about kick starting the conversation with a more meaningful topic. One of the simplest and most effective ways to do this is using your powers of observation. What do you notice about the way the person presents him or herself, or about your surroundings, that could help you ask a better question?

Gary Burnison, CEO of the organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry, shares a great example of this:

“Let’s say you’re talking to the CEO of a large, iconic company who is about to retire, and you noticed a row of empty boxes along the wall of the CEO’s office. You might start with the question, ‘How hard is it for you to leave this job?’ This will lead to a much deeper and more emotionally revealing discussion, and it never would’ve happened had you not noticed those boxes.”

Similarly, you might observe something about the person’s outfit, belongings, etc. that is distinctive and worth a compliment: “I love those glasses...where did you get them?” That simple question could lead to a conversation about their style preferences, their financial values, or a host of other tidbits that allow you to build the conversation from there.

2) Share the News. Even when a conversation kicks off with the same old question of “how are you?” or similar, it doesn’t mean you have to give the same old answer. Another powerful way to break out of the “small talk death spiral” is to give a more authentic answer that breaks out of the expected norm. You might answer “I’m doing great, we are getting ready to head out of town on a big trip,” or, “This has been a really tough week at work but I’m doing okay, thanks.”

By sharing a just a snippet of what’s really going on with you, you accomplish two things. First, you give the other person permission to be real in their response as well, and who knows what you’ll learn! And second, you give them a clue for how to move the conversation beyond pleasantries. Your goal is to share a little and to do it authentically, without oversharing.

Keep It Rolling!

Once you get the ball rolling in a new conversation, you now have an opportunity to really stand out as someone memorable and likable.

Mastering these skills can make a big difference in your results. In fact, a Harvard study found that people with stronger conversational skills were found to be more likable. The most powerful predictor of your likability in conversation? The degree to which you ask follow-up questions.

So once the conversation is flowing with your conversation partner, the simple trick is to take the time to go deeper with follow-up questions, rather than bouncing from one subject to another. You will demonstrate that you are really listening and that you are interested enough to ask the next question.

Turning Conversations into Connections

With your newfound ability to spark in-depth conversations, it’s likely that a lot of details will emerge and be important for future communications, whether you realize it at the time it or not. You’ll need to develop a simple system to help you remember a few key details from your conversation to help you when it’s time to follow up or reconnect.

That’s where we come in! Trying out our Contact Mapping app is easy – you can join free for a month, get to know its features and see how it can impact your life!

INSPIRATION

Meet Superwoman


You may not have known this, but at Contact Mapping, we have a "leaderboard". We have a handful of metrics that we monitor to see how active our community is in using the system so we can learn and better serve you. One of those metrics we track is the number of notes created in the app per user. For that one, our community member Sharyle Parco is winning the race by a landslide.

Since signing up for Contact Mapping in July, she has created 6,776 notes on her contacts. That is almost 35 notes every single day since the day she installed the app.

Sharyle was someone who was proactive about organizing herself before finding Contact Mapping, but moving over to the app took her to a new level. As she said when we talked, "I couldn't do as many follow-ups or add 25 people a day if I didn't have the app...I literally use it every day, all day long."

Whether you are a machine like Sharyle or just getting started in networking, Contact Mapping can help you to play bigger. It allows you to build and maintain relationships at scale.

And if you truly are using relationships to positively impact those around you, the bigger you play means the more lives you can touch!


The Magic of Thinking Big

“Big people monopolize the listening. Small people monopolize the talking.”
-David Schwartz

In his 1959 classic book, "The Magic of Thinking Big," David Schwartz presses the value and importance of thinking bigger across every facet of life. 

The book is focused on every aspect of achieving great results, and yet a surprising amount of his focus is specifically on building strong relationships. Here are a few more of the best quotes:

“We are lifted to higher levels by those who know us as likable, personable individuals. Every friend you make lifts you just one notch higher. And being likeable makes you lighter to lift. Successful people follow a plan for liking people.”

“People do more for you when you make them feel important.”

 “Take the initiative in building friendships-leaders always do. The most important person present is the one person most active in introducing himself.”

“Make it a rule to let others know you appreciate what they do for you. Never, never let anyone feel he is taken for granted. A person whether he is garbage collector or company vice president, is important to you. Treating someone as second-class never gets you first-class results.”

“Practice calling people by their names. People like to be called by name. It gives everyone a boost to be addressed by name.”

“Don’t be a conversation hog. Listen, win friends, and learn.”

To be able to lead or perform at the highest level, relationships are essential. The most accomplished leaders in virtually any field will spend a greater proportion of their time invested in caring for relationships than those they lead, not a lesser one.

Building great relationship management skills and habits today is a foundation that will allow you to achieve more in the future. 

Quotes from The Magic of Thinking Big by Dr. David J. Schwartz
Hat tip to Dan Ramirez for his great compilation of quotes from the book.

Why We Can't Remember

Have you ever walked away from a conversation to realize just minutes later you don’t remember A SINGLE THING the person told you? You know, a classic case of “in one ear and out the other?”
 

Was her name Miranda or Mariah? Was she going on vacation to Panama or Portugal? Who did she say was having back surgery? Did we plan to follow-up next Monday or was it Thursday?
 

Honestly, my friend, you are not alone. Even the pros have to fight biological factors that prevent us from achieving near perfect memory—if we aren’t careful, our minds can easily distract us from the conversation at hand.
 

This week we are going to discover WHY we have trouble staying focused in conversations and what we can do about it!

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THE SCIENCE BEHIND LISTENING

In research from Florida State University and Michigan State University, scientists found that the average listener will only recall 25% of a conversation two months after it happened. Even worse, the average person forgets ½ to ⅓ of the conversation within the first 8 hours following.
 

So why are we such terrible listeners?
 

In a study published by Harvard Business Review, researchers asked executives in a manufacturing plant to analyze the role listening plays in the workplace.

After weeks of observation, all of the executives noticed something—all lines of communication they’d set up only outlined how information was to be disseminated. They realized they had never prioritized LISTENING in the company’s communication practices and found their employees weren’t well-trained to BE effective listeners.
 

One executive said, “It’s interesting to me that we have considered so many facets of communication in the company, but have inadvertently overlooked listening. I’ve about decided that it’s the most important link in the company’s communications, and it’s obviously also the weakest one.”
 

After looking at the data, researchers identified two areas that—if we aren’t aware of—prevent us from being the compassionate and charismatic communicators.
 

1. It’s biological: In short, we are wired to be bad listeners. Before you give up hope due to your genetic make-up, let’s take a deep breath.
 

The average person speaks at an average of 125 words/minute. BUT, the average person can process up to 250 spoken words/minute. So while you’re trying desperately to stay focused on the conversation at hand, your mind is busy filling in the empty processing gaps in your brain—What am I going to eat for dinner? I need to send that email. Did Jennifer respond about the report I sent?—you basically sabotage your attempt to listen.
 

2. We aren’t well-trained: In the academic setting, we learn most content through reading. While teachers still play a large role in the classroom setting, students are asked to consume the majority of content and coursework by reading (which, by the way, the average person can do at a rate of 225 words per minute).
 

In essence, we haven’t been trained well to BE good listeners and communicators—so let’s fix it!

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.
— Stephen R. Covey

TIPS AND TRICKS

While we can’t slow down our aural processing speeds, we can train ourselves to develop better listening habits. By training our brain to fill in those empty mind gaps with thoughts pertaining to the conversation, we can become effective listeners.
 

  1. Anticipate the next sentence: Effective listeners attempt to stay ahead of the speaker—anticipating next words or sentences keeps the brain engaged even when the conversation lulls.

  2. Inspect the evidence: Is what you’re hearing true? How does it compare to your own experience or knowledge? What questions do you have based on what you’re hearing?

  3. Summarize the speech: Periodically throughout the conversation, effective listeners create a mental summary of what they’ve heard so far. And, when appropriate, even summarize back to the person vocally— “So if I’m hearing you correctly…”

  4. Read the clues: Non-verbal communication is equally as important as the words someone is speaking. An effective listener fills their mind gaps by taking in ALL of the communication clues—not just the verbal ones.

  5. WRITE IT DOWN: While these tools are extremely effective to listen well DURING the conversation, nothing has been found to help RETAIN the information more effectively than WRITING notes following a conversation.

This is where Contact Mapping can change the way you listen and communicate. Once you’ve employed effective listening techniques during the conversation, take a minute and record them in your Contact Mapping app and you’ll never be left thinking “What did we talk about?!” ever again.

What does that look like? Here's an example from the app 👇

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NOW LISTEN UP!!!

Speaking of listening (see what I did there? 😉), we have been hard at work putting together a POWERFUL training course for you with one of the world's best teacher's on the art and science of listening, John Milton Fogg. We have early bird pricing just for you!

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Connection is a Core Human Need- And We Need to be Better at It

When you hear the word “connection,” what is the first thing that comes to mind? Do you envision the kind of close connection you have with close friends and family? Or perhaps a connection that opens up new business opportunities? Or do you think of your Wi-Fi? For most people, it is a beautiful world full of positive implications. When we say we feel connected with a person, a community, or an event, we are experiencing oneness in the best possible way. It’s impossible to experience a sense of belonging without feeling connected. This experience is something us humans need to live a happy and fulfilled life.

In today’s state of affairs in the world, where globalization and digitalization are making everything more accessible, we are, ironically, connecting less than ever. Most of our communication is superficial, and expressing authentic feelings to others to feel connected as a result is a rarity. Here’s why the connection is a core human need, and how we can become better at it:

The Importance of Connection

Feeling a connection is a core human need, but many are terrible at it. A real, genuine human relationship has the power to heal the traumas of everyday disingenuous, loneliness, and isolation. It is the experience of “oneness” by having shared experiences, relatable feelings, and other similar ideas. It’s something we naturally gravitate towards and seek out, being intensely social beings. In the process of restoring a connection with others, we realize that we’re actually creating a connection with ourselves. By being seen and loved for who we are, how we think, and what we feel, we learn it’s okay to be as we are. According to Psychology Today, people who don’t experience human connection are more likely to suffer from depression and various other ailments, of both body and mind.

It doesn’t seem like something anyone would willingly put themselves through, but people do. One of the main reasons for that is fear. Most people believe a connection is something they have to earn by being “good enough”. However, in reality its something developed by being “willing enough.”  To connect to another human, we need to show them a part of our inner soul, and that is often difficult for many to exhibit such vulnerability.

Hyperconnectivity and Its Effects

Another aspect affecting the lack of meaningful connections is hyperconnectivity through digital media and social networks. That isn’t to say that social media is wrong — but your experience will be directly influenced by how you use them.

Social media provides us with an opportunity to make our lives look a bit more glamorous and polished, which removes the authenticity that is so essential to forming a human connection. However, those who mistake connection for attention on social media will have a harder time warding off depression, envy, and other negative feelings that might appear as a result of hyperconnectivity. Connection is so important, but it is so often overlooked and misunderstood, as seen with social media. There are few resources available to teach people how to foster real connection in their lives. For meaning to be cultivated through relationships and connections, understanding what it is, learning how to connect with others authentically, and focusing on giving connection- not receiving it.

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Forming Authentic Connections

When it comes to creating an authentic connection, location is not as important as recognizing who is trying to connect with you. At the same time, to establish a relationship, you have to be prepared to reach out as well, and practice talking to someone.

Often this simple act of conversing, listening to the other person and offering something back is what leads to the forging of an affiliation. It is simply our willingness to show up as we are, and our trust that we will be taken care of. The best part about it is that the other person will remember you as someone that they were able to share a genuine moment. Authentic connections are as rewarding as they are difficult to obtain sometimes, but the effort is indeed worth it. It is our discernment to give our time and energy to those who respect and cherish it back.

And, if after a while, you meet the same person again, you can easily re-establish a connection with them through Contact Mapping. Trying out our Contact Mapping app is easy – you can join free for a month and enjoy a different way of making connections.

Am I Boring You?

Can you recall the most painfully boring conversation you’ve been a part of?

Was it with a telemarketer who rambled for 10 minutes straight before you could even interject a simple “Sorry, I’m not interested.”

Was it with a colleague who spoke non-stop about his new hobby—extreme ironing?

Or was it with a neighbor who chatted incessantly about his mowing schedule while you tried desperately to sneak back inside your house?

On the contrary, I’m sure you can recall FANTASTIC conversations—ones with your significant other in the early stages of dating, a conversation with a teacher or boss that encouraged you, or a conversation you were still thinking about days or weeks later.

study in Britain found that people have an average of 27 conversations every day and 43% of those conversations were deemed pointless.

So how do we have more meaningful conversations? And what can you do to become a captivating conversationalist?

Keep reading to find out!

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“A good conversation is like a mini skirt; short enough to retain interest but long enough to cover the subject.”
— Celeste Headlee

TIPS AND TRICKS

Last week we shared the questions you should be asking during a conversation. But this week, we are going to dive into six habits you should cultivate to achieve conversational greatness.

Celeste Headlee, host of Georgia’s Public Broadcasting, wrote a book called We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter, after her wildly popular TED talk had over 10 million views.

In the TED Talk, Headlee shares 10 tips for better conversations, but for our purposes, we’re going to hone in on 6 of them.


Here are 6 Tips For Better Conversations:

  1. LISTEN MORE, TALK LESS: This is obvious—especially when you remember the most boring conversations you’ve been a part of. In each of those instances, YOU probably weren’t doing much talking. We MUST be better listeners if we want to be incredible conversationalists.
     

  2. DON’T INTERJECT YOUR EXPERIENCES: When someone is sharing a story—whether uplifting or tragic—don’t make it about you. When we take someone’s story and use it to shine the spotlight back on ourselves, it detracts from making a meaningful connection.
     

  3. DON’T BE A KNOW-IT-ALL: Bill Nye once said, “Everyone you ever meet will know something that you don’t.” If you aren’t sure about something, say so. And while you’re at it, be enthusiastically prepared to learn something new from each encounter.
     

  4. READ...A LOT: Mark Levy, author of Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight and Content, said expert conversationalists, “seed a conversation with jolts.” He explains, “If you’re talking about, say, workplace productivity, it’s fine to talk about Pickett’s Charge or black holes or an idea from an Elizabeth Gilbert book that, in some way, relates to workplace productivity. Bringing in ideas from other domains keeps people awake and interested, and it’s actually how paradigm shifts are born.“
     

  5. READ THE ROOM: Listen, not only with your ears, but also with your eyes. Non-verbal cues are a telling way to determine if your conversation is on the right track. If someone is disengaged, change the topic. If they are responding positively, keep the train going!
     

  6. DON’T SWEAT THE DETAILS: You know when you’re in the middle of storytelling and you can’t recall the exact name or date or details you think are vital for the story?

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Details are more important to remember than to recite. If you forget a detail when sharing, don't let it stop you in your tracks. In her TED Talk, Headlee says, “What they care about is you. They care about what you’re like, what you have in common. So forget the details. Leave them out.”

However, if someone does take the time to highlight key details in THEIR storytelling, make note! This is a great opportunity to map those details in your Contact Mapping app and bring them out during your next conversation.

By cultivating these 6 habits, you’ll be well on your way to expert conversationalist status!

Keep track of your meaningful conversations. 

The Secret to Asking Better Questions

Life is all about relationships—personal relationships, romantic relationships, business relationships, you name it!

Here at Contact Mapping we are relationship enthusiasts. Relationships spark joy for us which means they are here to stay (unlike my college Calculus textbook that sparks NO JOY and can undoubtedly get thrown to the curb)!
We want our entire community to find joy in building relationships too.

Have you ever seen someone make a meaningful connection with a new prospect in minutes? You know, the kind of person who's "never met a stranger" and always makes a killer first impression. 

Meanwhile, you run through your same old script time and time again, only to leave with a sympathetic business card.

This week we’re shaking up your box of go-to questions. You’re about to learn how to shift your language in a way to build meaningful connections faster than Usain Bolt runs a 100m dash.

Before you have any more questions, let’s take a look at the questions you should be asking.

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THE SCIENCE BEHIND OUR QUESTIONS

In 1997 Dr. Aron set out to see if it was possible to help people build a relationship faster than normal. He set up two groups—one where strangers were given a list of small-talk questions and the other where participants were given a list of deeper, more probing questions.

He found that the participants who asked the deeper, more probing questions built stronger relationships in nearly half the time. (Even one set of participants got married just 6 months after the study ended!)

So what types of questions SHOULD you be asking? Keep reading to find out!

A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.
— Francis Bacon

TIPS AND TRICKS

In Dr. Aron’s study, he wrote a series of questions that took people below the surface. Since we are all short on time, here’s a list of the questions you’re probably ALREADY asking with the questions you SHOULD be asking.

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By asking questions that dig deeper, dive further, and sift through the surface-level topics, you’ll be well on your way to building more meaningful relationships!

Once you’ve asked great questions, don’t let your incredible conversation go to waste. Map all of the important details in your Contact Mapping app and you’ll be well-prepared for a meaningful follow-up.

Keep track of your meaningful conversations. 


How to Flip Your Screen on FB Live

Going live on Facebook has become an essential marketing tool for anyone using the social media site reach a bigger audience and nurture relationships with their contacts and followers. However, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to broadcast effectively, without the annoying issues that could affect the quality of your live broadcast.

One issue that might appear when using your front-facing camera for a live broadcast has been driving users crazy. Fortunately, the fix for it is straightforward — all it takes is to know where to find the setting you need. Here’s how to flip your screen when you’re doing a Facebook live broadcast:

The Problem with Front-Facing Camera

Using a front-facing camera for Facebook live broadcasts is convenient, and an obvious choice for many users. It’s easy to ensure that your setup is right when you use it. Since you can see yourself while you’re broadcasting, you can keep track of your body language and react in real-time to comments.

However, if you have any text visible in the frame, you run into an issue.

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The front-facing camera naturally flips it into a mirror image, which is helpful when it comes to tracking your body language as you view yourself on screen. The problem is, any  text in the frame will appear with the letters facing the wrong way. It doesn’t allow the audience to see the text, and it presents a huge branding issue if you’re trying to display your logo.

Finding the Setting to Flip Your Screen

But fear not! The fix is easy, it’s just not the easiest setting to find. The other thing to bear in mind is that the fix isn’t permanent so you’ll have to do it for every single broadcast… Which means it’s possible you could forget and you will do it again.

First, start your Facebook Live as usual, pressing the “Live Video” icon at the top left of your home page. For business pages, press “Publish” from your Page. Then press “Live Video.”

Once you’re there, look for the wand icon on the screen. Usually, it’s in the bottom left corner, but depending on the device you’re broadcasting with, it might be elsewhere.

This is true if you're going live from a Page but more of the audience is likely going to be doing it from their personal profile. How do you think we should handle that? I'm partly inclined to skip over this part to avoid creating confusion on a step that anyone who has this problem should already know how to do.

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Press the wand and a toolbar with filters will come up. Underneath the filters, there’s a row of icons and one of them is what you’re looking for. In the bottom right corner, you’ll find a screwdriver and span icon.

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If you click on it, it will bring up the options for flipping the screen.

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The option you need is “Horizontal Flip” (The one on the left). It will flip your screen horizontally, so that logos and any other text will correctly appear to the viewer, making it easily readable for the audience (In truth, I just wanted you guys to see a close up of my amazing nose).

Voila! You are now all set to do your Facebook Live where your audience will easily be able to read any branding or script in the frame!

Shameless Plug

This neat little trick is undoubtedly of great use to anyone who frequently does Facebook Live broadcasts. It’s a handy tool to nurture your relationship with your followers and become better connected, but it isn’t the only way.

Our Contact Mapping app allows you to build your network by keeping track of everyone you meet, facilitating meaningful connections between people. If this sounds like something, you might need, join free for a month and experience all its benefits yourself.

Quality Versus Quantity of Outreach

Other than a mall kiosk, when was the last time a person just walked up to you and tried to sell you something? Not a place where you are there specifically for that service like a department store, but a genuine out of the blue sales attempt. Never. And why is that? Because it’s weird. So why should the internet be any different?

Who has gotten a LinkedIn request to connect only to have someone immediately try to sell them something? With millions of professional users worldwide, LinkedIn is the obvious place to be out there networking and even selling. However, its reputation also means that people will often be tempted to leap past the “let’s get to know each other phase” and immediately jump to start connecting with people — and not everyone will know how to do it right.

Then there is the other type of person showing almost no interest and taking no effort to make a meaningful introduction. How many people have been sent an invitation to connect with a lazy or generic greeting? Or been sent a request to connect with no greeting whatsoever? It has led to many less than favorable first impressions. Connecting with people randomly and sending sales pitches to every contact as soon as they accept the invitation aren’t good ways to impress anyone. Let’s have a look at some ways of improving your quality of outreach on LinkedIn and in person, as well as examples of what you shouldn’t do:

Remember There is a Human Behind the Profile

Many business people nowadays send connect requests on LinkedIn. They believe that incorporating a few obvious details to show you did your research will resonate. Some terrible examples of generic and uninspired outreach shared by Adrian Chenault include:

●       “It looks like we have some mutual connections, and I’m impressed with your accomplishments and background.”

●       “I took a look at your company, and I am very interested in learning more. You help people with their technology, and we help people with their business.”

●       “I saw your recent post, reviewed your profile, and thought it made sense to reach out to connect.”

As Adrian points out, these requests devoid of any personalization won’t get you anywhere close to developing a meaningful connection. Research your prospect and make an effort not to sound like a generic script.

Adopt a “Give First” Approach Without Expectation

Think about why you want to connect with someone on LinkedIn... the main reason is usually the value you can get out of it. But unless you tell your prospect what kind of value you can provide them in return, why should they bother connecting at all? And if they do give you the benefit of the doubt, will they get a cold sales pitch or real value?

According to Brian Pontarelli, being offered value on LinkedIn is rare: “LinkedIn has become a total disaster of cold selling. I’ve been trying to avoid it, but it is nearly impossible. Apparently, asking nicely not to be pitched doesn’t work.”

Jordan Ryan also has some feedback for those who keep sending cold pitches immediately after connecting: “In a world where there are so many tools to research, personalize, and automate outreach, lazy plug and chug your sales pitch won’t cut it. Either get with a quality process or get off the tracks, because you’re just wearing people out with your noise and making things harder for everyone else with quality to offer.”

Avoid being perceived as a noise-maker, always aim to give first, and only make the connections that can benefit both sides. While making noise can get you noticed, it won’t be for the right reasons.

Give Purpose to Your Connection

To make a meaningful connection with a contact, you have to invest time and effort. With so many options to conduct research, there is no excuse for a dull and impersonal pitch. There are no shortcuts when it comes to paying attention.

However, there is a shortcut to ensure that you can easily establish a foundation with everyone you meet through Contact Mapping. Trying out our Contact Mapping app is simple – you can join free for a month and enjoy a different way of making and maintaining connections.

The Value of Being Connected

How many times have you felt stuck on something, turned to the ever dependable Google search, but still found yourself at a dead end? When it comes to many of the most important things in life — career changes, family emergencies, vendor selection — the internet either comes up with no answers or too many to sift. In those moments, it’s not so much what you know as who you know.

Have you ever noticed that when you’re talking with someone successful, whether a friend or mentor, how they seem to offer introductions more frequently than they give advice? More often than not, the full value of being connected becomes clear to us only after we realize that if we just “knew a guy,” we have a path out of our difficult situation.

This is all the more important for those of us who rely on our personal networks to create value in our businesses, whether as a network marketer, a real estate professional, financial advisor, or a local business owner. Let’s have a closer look at what it means to be connected and why it’s so valuable in today’s business world:

Starting Conversations

Think about your daily activities — whether it’s grocery shopping, take public transportation, or grabbing something to eat in a restaurant. Within that span of time, how many people do you come within close proximity to, but start a conversation with none of them? The ability to start a conversation naturally and carry it further with ease is what distinguishes those great conversationalists who are the best connectors. Sometimes it seems like you either have to be a natural at it or forget about it, but starting conversations is a skill you can acquire and practice.

The key to successfully opening up conversations is to ask the right questions. But the key to successfully sustaining a conversation, other than being polite and respectful, is being prepared to listen. Natural networkers know that every connection can be valuable at some point, even if it may not be clear up front. You could be in different industries, with no overlap in your business activities — but this connection might still open some doors you need in the future.

Being the Person to Call

Building an extensive network of valuable connections will have another interesting effect: you’ll become that one person everyone thinks of when they are struggling to solve a problems. By making the right connections, your influence and the trust people have in you will grow, making you a valued resource. As the connector, you will be valuable to any organization you decide to work for since your ability to connect people to what they need will enable you to call in favors when you need them. Not only will this give you the opportunity to help others, but it also means people will being more opportunities to you.

Mapping Your Contacts

We’re living in an increasingly faster-paced world and often fall prey to disconnect in both our personal and business lives. Conversation with the goal of connecting with someone has almost become a lost art, lost in the struggle to appear successful and be perceived as an influencer.

When you’re building your network of contacts effectively, you’ll strive to listen, remember and take care of whoever you’re connecting with. By paying attention to what matters to them, you ensure that they will pay attention to what matters to you.

 

Being well-connected in this day and age has become somewhat of a lost art, despite the technologies that are available to us. Whenever you make the time to hear someone out and connect, log it into the Contact Mapping app and let it help you nurture that relationship. Join free for a month and witness its life-changing effects for yourself.

How to Capitalize on New Relationships after A Conference

There’s always that one person at conferences. That one person everyone seems to know and is clamoring to talk to. This person makes people laugh, makes people feel good about themselves. However this person didn’t come to be by being a self-involved salesperson. They became that way by simply practicing basic humanity. 

Conferences create an excellent networking environment where people expect to mingle and forge new relationships. Approaching someone to talk to them isn’t awkward or difficult once you get used to the conference atmosphere.

However, after the event has ended and you have plenty of business cards and conversations mixing up in your head, the spirit of connecting might begin to fade. Especially if you’re prone to forgetting faces, names or facts, capitalizing on new relationships after a conference might be a nightmare for you. If that’s the case, these tips might help:

Write Details Down

When you are meeting dozens of people in a short time span in a conference setting, it's easy to feel like important details go in one ear and out the other. We all know that feeling of someone telling you their name and you forgetting it within seconds. The feeling of panic and embarrassment sets in as you realize you've completely blanked it out.

Most people can’t remember every single detail that came up in a conversation even if it was relatively recent. In a conference setting, where you’ll hopefully talk with plenty of people, it’s even less reasonable to expect to remember everything. However, this information is what you’ll be using to forge the relationship, so you need every detail you can remember.

A good habit to develop is writing down the key details about the person you met immediately after the conversation. These notes will certainly help you when you’re trying to follow-up and think of what you might write that would establish the positive rapport again.

Set Follow-Up Reminders

“Hey! I just wanted to check in and see how your daughter’s art show went? I remember you telling me she was really nervous.”

A call for something that seems so small and unrelated to a professional relationship speaks volumes. It shows a genuine interest in the other person as opposed to just using them for business purposes. However, if time gets away from you and you don’t follow up, you can miss the opportunity to create these meaningful touchpoints.

A new connection won’t be valuable to you if you forget to follow up and develop the relationship further. It’s safe to say that everyone knows this and has the best intention of following up right away. Unfortunately it happens frequently that many still fail to follow up. But why is that?

Since the recommended time frame for follow-ups is within a week from the event, some things can easily slip through the cracks. Under the burden of returning to your other day-to-day obligations, you might forget what you wanted to follow up about, or who you wanted to follow up with. It is why setting up a reminder to go along with your notes can be all it takes to ensure that you follow up when you’re supposed to. What’s more, you’ll know what to write or say.

Aim to Be Helpful

We’ve all been on the receiving end of a sales pitch as soon as we have said “hello,” and it’s never a nice feeling. However, it isn’t much better to be hit with a pitch a week into knowing someone, either. Developing a good business relationship is impossible if it’s evident to the other person that you’re only looking after your interests.

Aim to be helpful to your new connection instead. That might be as simple as sharing some content that you think might be appreciated or offering to help them make a needed connection. If you’re useful and valuable to them, they’ll want to return the favor.

Making the most out of your conference connections becomes much easier if you develop the right networking habits. Nurturing a relationship after a conference is very similar to the evolution of a new friendship. The difference is, a budding friendship is more natural and intuitive. You remember details about your new friend’s life because you are interested and care; you send text messages because you want to talk to them; and you help them because you care about them.

Capitalizing on a new relationship after a conference is the same. The only difference is it feels less natural because you are doing it for a business purpose. If you treat your professional relationships with the same attention and care as personal relationships, these tips will come more naturally than if you perceive them as merely “business interactions”. In case you need help building and sticking to them, Contact Mapping is an app that might help. Join free for a month and start building your high-quality contact network.

5 Ways to Capture the Attention of Everyone You Meet at a Conference

A conference is a busy place, and networking opportunities are what makes the experience of attending one so worth it. However, meeting so many new people can also be overwhelming, especially if not wholly prepared.

When we’re networking in the fast lane, it can be hard to make meaningful connections and ensure that people remember you. What’s more, it can also be hard for you to remember most details about them! To help you network more effectively, here are five ways to capture the attention of everyone you meet at a conference:

1) Have a Purpose for Attending

Not all conference attendees are there with a defined purpose. Of course, most of them want to listen and learn, if nothing else — but you can get so much more out of a conference if you step up your game. And if you ensure that your purpose also gives you an excellent way to break the ice and learn something about the people you’re connecting with, you will stand out from the crowd. It will ensure they’ll remember you.

2) Approach People to Create Content

Creating content while you’re attending the conference is one of the ways to give yourself a mission that will require interaction. The best part is that you can be creative with it: conduct a survey, take photos, interview other attendees. Find a way to make your material applicable and useful to your industry, and that might open the way to new contacts.

3) Be a Valuable Contact

Meaningful networking can’t happen without an exchange of values and ideas, or at least a promise of it in the future. If you want to ensure you’re the person to contact for everyone you meet, start by listening well and remembering the details of the conversation.

You are trying to remember all the details while at a conference. It might be easier said than done; unless you have the help of a great tool. Contact Mapping app allows you to easily record new contacts and the most important things you’ve learned about them right after a conversation. It will be a valuable ally in your efforts to improve your networking skills.

4) Focus on Them

You won’t get very far in a conference setting if all you do is talk and worry about yourself. Once you shift your focus to other people and try to make them feel more comfortable around you, you’ll notice that you can establish positive rapport more often. Other than natural conversationalists, not many people get this right, but it’s a skill that you can learn.

5) Ask Relevant Questions

Whether it’s during a session Q&A segment or in conversation with a group of other people, it’s a good idea to ask questions whose answers will help other people as well. Usually, those questions are relatively simple, and their basic level ensures that others can chime in. If you have any issues where answers would help you, it’s better to save them for a one-on-one conversation with the speaker after the session.

Networking effectively at a conference can mean the difference between leaving with information versus leaving with a lot of opportunity. Making sure you capture the attention of everyone you meet can be a challenge. But like any other challenge, you can overcome this one with practice, preparation, and useful tools. If you want to try out the Contact Mapping app, join free for a month and experience all its benefits yourself.


How To Overcome Your Fear And Make The Most Of Any Networking Event

How To Overcome Your Fear And Make The Most Of Any Networking Event

Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, many of us find large networking events to be overwhelming. Often we walk away feeling as though we didn’t get much out of the event. Below are the secrets that have taken me from avoiding networking events to (almost 😀) looking forward to them!