I recently had the honor of presenting on a speaker’s panel about networking. There are a few ironies here… 1) I don’t like networking 2)I don’t like public speaking! There, now it’s out! BUT, because I know I NEED to do both and do both well, I embrace the opportunities so I can improve and be more comfortable with both.
I’ve actually have quite a bit of experience with networking. In my presentation, I shared that I believe everything we do is networking. We just don’t label it as networking, which is why sometimes we are more comfortable with it than other times.
The event was the Connecting Women to Power 2013 Business Conference hosted by CSUDH and California State Board of Equalization. With more than 1,300 women in attendance, this event was probably one of the most well attended Women’s Conferences I’ve been too. The Panel was Strategies for Moving Your Career Forward: The Path to Partnership and Building Strategic Relationships. The distinguished panel was made up of Dr. Kaye Bragg, AVP Faculty Development and Academic Programs, Tonya Haynes, Chief EFFICIENCY Officer, Phoenix Business Development Group and Bree Nguyen, Strategic Partnership Development, Facebook.
My friend and colleague, Stephanie Shriver-Engdahl, recommeded the book As We Speak to help me brush up on my public speaking skills (and fear of!). I bought the book several months ago and immediately after the invitation to be on the Panel, I cracked that book open! It is full of great tips, but with only a week to write my talk and build the power point, I wasn’t able to integrate it all, but these are the nuggets I took with me:
- Consider your audience really WANTS to know what you are saying. They are looking at you as the expert on this topic so present as if you are giving them a gift. Be Generous.
- Be Authentic. Be YOU. You are the best presenter of YOUR information.
- Deep belly breathe before you go on. The deeper your breath, the more calming it is for your entire body.
- Be animated, in your voice and in your body language.
Interestingly, many of these same elements are used in networking! Most importantly Be Authentic and Be Generous! I’m actually pretty good at both of these, maybe to a fault sometimes. One of the questions I had from the audience was: “How do you separate your personal & professional network so your job can’t find out everything about you!” My answers was “I don’t!”. My brand is Mickey. Everything I do, is with my brand in mind. I don’t do anything that I wouldn’t want my employer to “find out about”. I have passion for my job, my community, my friends and my family. Often times, they all blend together! That’s what I mean by saying “we are always networking!”.
What I was most touched by at the end of the panel, was that audience members came up to me and said I was inspirational. WOW! They wanted to learn more about my volunteer programs (a great way to network!). How could they get more information about Crown Jewel Club. How could they get on my Job Search Support email list (email me at firstname.lastname@example.org) and most importantly….feedback like: “I AM uncomfortable networking and you gave me a lot of great ideas that I can’t wait to implement” That was the entire point! I shared my personal fears and that resonated with the audience and made them more likely to accept my ideas. Being Authentic and Generous really does work. Don’t forget that when someone asks you to be someone else or tells you not to share so openly!