187) Embrace Chaos

In October 2014, workers within the London Underground staged a walkout. This sent thousands upon thousands of commuters into utter chaos trying to find alternate ways to get to work. Fortunately, the strike only lasted 48 hours and quickly things got back to normal and the chaos subsided.

Interestingly, however, research determined that about five percent of the commuting population did not revert to their pre-strike commuting habits. It seems that the strike had upended their normal routine and, in so doing, they found a better routine.

We humans are creatures of habit, fixated on patterns. And while these patterns create efficiencies in our lives, they also stifle creativity and critical thinking.

Chaos might disrupt the efficiencies we enjoy, but it also forces us to re-examine our lives. It provides us an opportunity to look for new solutions. In inspires us to create and invent. So, while chaos is never fun, the learning opportunities it might create is reason enough for us to embrace it.


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222) The Value Of Curiosity

Kay Coughlin, CEO at Facilitator on Fire, shares that there is value to curiosity.

Certain things thrive in a curious world. Things like science, fruitful debate, growth, tolerance, delight in the unknown, and forgiveness.

She also shares that unfortunately other things thrive in a polarized, only-one-right-answer world. Things like insecurity, small mindset, fear of the unknown, extreme politics, hate, bigotry, blame, and shame.

With that, Kay encourages that instead of, “I’m right, you’re wrong,” ask “How could this be different or improved?

And rather than, “This isn’t what I asked for,” try, “I didn’t expect this, please tell me more.

Her message is crystal clear: Insecure people can’t tolerate curiosity. So, strive to be secure enough to be curious. This will help you be a better leader. It will help you build a stronger team. It will ensure that your network thrives.


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Exit Gracefully From Networking Conversations

Business connections at networking events are great. Whatever the case, do not churn the entire event away in a single one. Nothing says that you need to engage in a dozen different conversations over the course of an hour. Two or three is plenty. Remember this is not speed dating, rather, it’s networking (building relationships). Given that, you should develop some ways of moving on. As with anything else, honesty is the best policy.

Here are some great lines for doing that:

  • “Thanks for your time. I told myself I would meet three interesting people at this. I have two more to go.”
  •  “There is someone over there that I need to connect with.”
  • “Is there anyone here in particular you would like to meet? I would be glad to introduce you.”

Small Talk To Big Business

Remember, small talk is the warm-up that leads to the work out. The workout is talking business. To make this happen, eventually you need to transition from small talk to real business.

When this moment comes, you will know. At some point in your exchange there will be a lull. Use this moment to get at a more meaty discussion on business (whatever that might be).

Be forewarned, however, this is not to suggest that you start to pitch them or set them up for a close. It merely suggests that once you have them comfortably engaged in conversation, you should ease into a more professional discussion of their business or your business.

For example, a nice segue might be, “Water skiing isn’t cheap! What do you do professionally to pay for it?”

Do not try to steer them. For example, a business coach, should not ask, “Do you use business coaches in your business?” A financial advisor, should not open with, “How is your 401K doing these days?” A promotional products person should not jump to “How do you use ad specialty items in your business?”

Do NOT push it. Keep the tone light and the sales probing to a minimum. If you do this right, you will have lots of opportunities to gather future business intelligence, pitch them, and close them.  Remember, people do business with those they Know, Like & Trust.

Return To Small Talk

After the professional conversation has run its course but before the conversation ends, touch back on something related to your small talk conversation.

For example: “Great talking with you. Assuming, you don’t get laid up in the hospital skiing between now and then, I would enjoy continuing our conversation over a cup of coffee sometime.”

Why is this important? By returning to “small talk”, you have demonstrated that you were listening and that you remembered. More subtly, however, you are reflecting back to a part of the conversation when they likely delighted in your interest in them.


219) The Attractiveness Of Courage

Life is not an endless succession of forward progress. While you may enjoy success, at some point or another you will also encounter frustrating challenges and disappointing setbacks. It is during these moments of hardship that you have the greatest opportunity to establish your personal brand and build your network.

You see, when you stare down frustrating challenges and disappointing setbacks with an attitude of determination, you establish yourself as courageous. This draws others toward you.

There is little question that people love an underdog. And, they can’t help but rally around one who is battling to overcome some sort of setback or hardship. So, by demonstrating an attitude of courageous determination, others want to draw from this strength, and they hope to take inspiration from it. In any event, they cannot help but want to get to know you better and cannot help but want to get to like you more.


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217) Energy Follows Focus

On the July 5th 2019 episode of the How To Be Mesmerizing podcast, host Tim Shurr reminded his audience that the path they’re on (even though it might be fraught with difficulty) is the path they’re supposed to be on.

As for dealing with life’s trials and tribulations, Shurr offered this advice:

When facing a challenging situation, whatever it might be, take a step back and do what you can to ignore the challenge itself. Instead, in that moment, ask yourself what outcome you really want.

In this same spirit, he encouraged his audience not to commiserate about where they are in life. Rather, he advocated that they think about and get a clear picture as to who they wanted to be.

Keep your eye on the positive. Zero in on a vision of hope and promise. Shurr’s point is simple. Where your focus goes, your energy follows.


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213) Trees & Grass

Twentieth-century author Hal Borland once said, “Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.”

Be like a tree. You can’t expect to be at your peak potential overnight. Rather, like a tree, you break through as merely a seedling in your chosen field of expertise. Then year after year, you reach and grow … expanding bit by bit. And all along, capitalizing on opportunities to take in the enlightenment of knowledge and experience.

But also, be like grass. You will endure setbacks, figuratively being stepped on and cut down. Whatever the case, just keep going. Be undeterred by challenges. Overcome and continue on. Let no one stop you from achieving what you’re hardwired to achieve.

When things don’t move at the pace you’d like, look up and remember the trees. Adopt their patience. When you encounter that setback, look down at the grass. Take a lesson from it and relentlessly persist.


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212) The Reconnection Call

If you’re like most, your life is littered with relationships with whom you’ve lost touch. No one is to blame. These things happen. For whatever reason, their life and yours have taken different paths.

And while, you may no longer be on the same life path, there is still tremendous value in these contacts. So, you should make an opportunity from time to time to simply reconnect. But how?

Donna Fisher, in her book People Power, has some straightforward advice: Simply call. Labeling this a “Reconnection Call”, Fisher indicates that it is made for the purpose of “re-establishing a relationship.”

Once we have the person on the line, simply acknowledge that it has been a long time, and then express an interest in catching up. Although it may feel awkward at first, remember your old friend is being reconnected too. So, your call will be a welcome benefit to him or her as well.


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211) Shut Up And Listen

Award winning business coach, motivational speaker and author of A Life Best Lived: A Story of Life, Death and Second Chances, Danny Creed has some sage advice for achieving your goals and dreams: Simply serve others around you. Your family. Your friends. Your clients. Your colleagues. Your vendors.

This then begs the question, “How do I best serve others?” He has great advice for that too. It’s simply this: SHUT UP AND LISTEN.

When you do that, you can help others be successful by understanding their own definition of success. To effectively listen, you need to completely focus your attention on the person and be genuinely interested, with an intent to actually learn.

Moreover, don’t interrupt. Don’t argue. Stay off e-mail, text and social media. And, by all mean, lean into the conversation with your body and eye contact.

Coach Creed is right. Success starts by serving others. And serving others starts by shutting up and listening.


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205) Exit Conversations Gracefully

Making connections at networking events is great. Remember, however, that networking and these events in general, are about building relationships.

So, you want to become adept at having small talk conversations. But in addition, you need to become skillful at transitioning out of conversations so that you’re able to move on to another.

Here are some great ideas on things to say to help you “gracefully exit” from one conversation so you can engage in another:

  • “Thanks for your time. I told myself I would meet three interesting people at this event. I have two more to go.” OR
  • “Thanks for your time. There is someone over there that I need to connect with.” OR
  • “Is there anyone here in particular you would like to meet? I would be glad to introduce you.”

These statements are all useful in helping you transition from one great conversation to the next. So, keep these statements in your conversation arsenal.


Like what you’ve read? Prefer to hear it as a podcast or daily flash briefing? Subscribe to the Networking Rx Minute podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts.