Recently I was asked to attend a large women’s business function in another city in which I knew no one expect the person who invited me. The person that invited me was very involved in the organization and had duties to perform on that day. So, I was on my own.
To top it off, there was no food nor drink to be served. So, my usual networking skills couldn’t happen over the shrimp bowl because there was none.
Now, I’m an extrovert but when I entered the room there was an immediate – bam! – of energy. Lots of laughter and people talking to each other. I was immediately thrown back to a middle school feeling of everybody has somebody to talk to except me. Fortunately, this lasted about two seconds and I came to my senses.
I reminded myself of tools that I can use in any situation to establish rapport and make connections. Here’s what I did:
1. Introduced myself to a woman that had some individually wrapped cookies on her table because quite frankly – I was hungry! The conversation took off from there.
2. After I left her, I walked over to a woman who had on a fabulous jacket and complimented her on that. The conversation took off from there.
3. Still on the food theme, I walked over to a woman and asked if her if she was a local and if so, could she recommend a food place to eat on the other side of this meeting. The conversation took off from there.
4. With another person that I approached, I brought up a current event from their city and asked her opinion on what was going on.
All these conversations took me up to the time of the meeting and proved very productive and enjoyable.
There’s a lot to say about networking but what works for me is:
• Notice – something about the room, the person, the event – to compliment.
• Ask – Ask an open ended question.
• Compliment – Who doesn’t love a sincere compliment. Make someone’s day (and yours) by offering out praise.
Here’s what I learned – I’ll come back to that meeting with some new relationships and a larger circle of support.
One of the things I do not like to do (which is probably illegal for my gender) is to go shoe shopping. After years of performing in my earlier days, dance lessons, decades of proudly walking incorrectly in high heels and two-foot surgeries, my feet are not only not pretty but pretty beat up. I prefer to wear my beat up old black dress shoes for “business” days; and beat up old blue shoes for “casual” days.
Imagine my surprise when my mother asked me to join her in an afternoon of shoe shopping in Pittsburgh. I immediately reverted to a teenager response of, “Do I have to go?!” Well, yes. When we talked into the privately-owned shoe store we were greeted by a gentleman who greeted my mom by name and gave her a hug. This speaks to either there are more shoes in her closet than I know of or he is just a good salesperson. Note the latter. Terry has made his living selling shoes in Pittsburgh. My mom told Terry that she would like to buy her daughter a pair of shoes. Such a generous mom thing to do, right?! No worries, I knew we wouldn’t find any to suit me.
Terry started asking me questions. What do I do for a living? What business and casual outfits are my go to’s? Pants or Skirts? Let me see your feet – whoa! He asked me questions about color and style. You might find this surprising but I walked away, no pun intended, with five pairs of shoes (my mom only bought one) and I could have bought more.
What did Terry do right? Oh, so much. Here’s a few I noted:
1. Greeted us.
2. Asked questions.
3. Set parameters for decisions. (Casual, business, low heels, high heels, foot health)
4. Gave me what I asked for; offered more options for consideration.
5. Asked if I was satisfied with my decisions.
6. Thanked us for coming in.
Do I like shoe shopping any better? No, but when these shoes wear out, I’ll book that plane flight, pick up my mom and stop in to see Terry.
After 15 years with bright peach walls in a corner bedroom of our house for our oldest daughter (now an adult and with her own daughter), it was time for a re-paint. With my paint fan deck in hand, I had selected a subtle blue color called – blue bonnet. It would take our citrusy fresh walls and transform them into soft beach waves of comfort. A good transition. My husband was happy about the transition (white walls are his favorite color so it was a closer match than the previous peach) and even happier because I had hired a painter to do the job.
I had made an early morning stop at my local paint store to pick up a quart of paint and I don’t care how early you are, someone is always earlier. In this case there were a half dozen more early birds than me. A young woman was waiting next to me when my turn was up. My order was filled and I was paying for my paint when a gentleman behind the counter said to this woman, still waiting, “I appreciate your patience in waiting. I’ll bet you thought we forgot about you however, we had a problem with the pigment and we were trying to figure it out.”
Wow! What a dynamite way to acknowledge the customer, the problem, and the possible solution! I am not sure if this guy had on the job training, behind the scenes training, or good training from his parents but wow! So, my question for you is – how do your words convey excellent customer service?
Welcome world! Happy to be back in conversation with you on my new blog. Every now and then I’ll be writing about my travels, my experiences and memorable stories that I want to share with you that are fun, cool or just plain neat.
Glad to have you aboard.