I was stoked to kick off the first official #FierceChat last night (Every Wed 5 pm PT). A great crowd showed up and the engagement was excellent. We talked about networking and how to get the most out of your networking experience as well as going outside of your comfort zone (For a complete summary of last nights #FierceChat click here.)
One tip from a participant, as we were discussing effective networking, was to use wisdom circles. To better understand the concept I dug up this article that also calls them listening circles and states that they are a powerful tool that can be used to make strong connections. If your goal is team building, encouraging deep personal connections, or community building then you may want to consider using them.
Later in the chat we talked about going outside of your comfort zone. Sure it’s easy to network within you own demographic but what what about interacting with people that may have very different values, cultural etiquette, religious or political beliefs? How do you interact and avoid discomfort or possibly even offending each other? I think the best way is to just go for it. The benefits are worth the risk and you will likely meet some great people, learn a lot about each others lifestyle, and perhaps even strike up a lifelong friendship or valuable business connection.
There are a few steps you can take to make the interaction go smoother. If, for example, you are going to a Japanese Cultural Festival to meet up with some up and coming artists, do a quick google search and see what you can find. Think of a few ice breaker questions that can ease tension and give you some quick perspective. Head off to the meeting (virtual or real) with confidence, curiosity and an open mind and you’ll be fine.
Cultural barriers aren’t the only challenge when networking. Interacting with those who have differences in personalities can always be challenging. Introverts versus extroverts is one of the most common characteristics people encounter during networking. If you are introverted as I am, there are plenty of tools you can use to help you get the most out of connecting with outgoing peers. Make sure you are prepared, take a deep breath, and remember that you have a lot to offer the person you are meeting up with.
If you are an extrovert chances are you are not stressing out about meeting new people, on the contrary, it’s probably one of the things that drives you to the core of your being. There are a few things you should keep in mind to make the best of any networking experience. Focus on the other person, speak slowly and deliberately, and be sensitive to those who interact differently than you do.
What is your networking strategy? Are you actively pursuing all of the social media networking opportunities that are available to you? What are you going to bring to the table when you are meeting with others? Think about all of these things and get out there and make those contacts.
Follow me on twitter @Fierce_Chat and/ or @Fierce_Living
#FierceChat attendees on Sep 07, 2011: