The Leading Edge - Taking Care of Business
Getting Back to Networking
As COVID restrictions ease across the country, networking events will return with a vengeance over the coming months. There is a pent-up desire for people to meet face-to-face and talk business again through a chamber of commerce event, a BNI group, or any other business group. Networking is a much missed and essential part of their sales and marketing strategy for many businesses. And, for owners, it heralds a return to being an integral part of the local business community.
The transition from Zoom networking to in-person will be easy and welcome to most people; for others, it may be a little uncomfortable, especially with the ghost of COVID looming over the proceedings. We are not all extroverts who love to flit from one person to another handing out our business cards as if they were party favours. Some of us find it awkward to walk up to a stranger and introduce ourselves, even more so to promote our product or service. The thing to remember is that you are not alone. Other than a small cadre of individuals who love to meet and greet anyone, anytime, with not an ounce of shyness, the majority of people have at least a smidgen of reticence.
Given that networking for most business owners is a worthwhile activity, how do you go about getting out and about post-COVID and not dread the very thought of entering the event? The first thing you can do is not believe the stories about networking you are telling yourself in your head. If you already think that networking is sleazy, then that’s what it will be. The truth is, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are three ways you can reframe the whole networking challenge.
Take the pressure off. If you attend a networking event with the objective of coming away with an order, or at least a solid lead, then you are already putting yourself in a sales frame of mind. If you already think those people with a fistful of cards at these events are slimy, then you will already be feeling uncomfortable. What if you went with the idea of being a resource to everyone you meet? Instead of trying to get your message across, focus on listening and finding a way to help the person achieve their objectives. That’s not saying you will become their customer, but you may have a lead for them or a piece of news or information about their market or industry. It’s surprising how this approach can lead people to actively want to help you with your objectives.
Take the initiative. One of the hardest things can be stepping up to talk to someone. People are often in groups and deep in conversation, and you don’t want to interrupt, but remember it is a networking event, not a private conversation or meeting. Simply join the group, wait for a break in the discussion, or wait for someone to say hi. Of course, you could always search the room and look for someone standing alone and introduce yourself. It’s guaranteed they will appreciate you talking to them. Another strategy is to speak to the organizer and ask them to introduce you to someone you’d specifically like to meet.
Don’t sell – ask for advice or help. Too many networkers go into sales mode as soon as they walk through the door. Forget sales entirely! The orders will come organically if you simply let them. Remember, at a networking event, you are surrounded by people with varying levels and types of expertise. If you ask people to share that expertise, you allow them to help you, and they will feel good about sharing the knowledge. Who doesn’t like being asked for advice? It makes one feel good. This approach allows you to build solid relationships, and it’s those relationships that will bring sales down the line.
Networking shouldn’t be uncomfortable, and it won’t be if you think about it in a new, less threatening way.
Controlling Your Temper When People Tick You Off
We’ve all been there; a customer is being unreasonable, a supplier has messed up an order, an employee is completely out of line, and we are about to blow a fuse. In the moment, we may even realize that losing our temper is not going to make things better, but heck, it might release some pressure. Although anger is a natural emotion, in the final analysis, when did losing our cool ever turn out well?
If you are one of the significant majority who is fed up to the back teeth with COVID, politicians, taxes, a compromised supply chain, employee shortages, gas prices, people who don’t think the way you do – it probably won’t take a lot for someone to push the right buttons for you to lose your temper. The question is, what can you do to keep control? Here are a few techniques you can employ to keep on the right side of raging lunatic.
Identify why you are angry. You are frustrated, angry, about to boil over, but why? If someone is annoying you, what is it they are doing that is causing you to lose your temper? Anger is a secondary emotion; something has caused the anger. Try to understand the primary emotion that caused you to be angry. Are you reacting to someone’s angry approach – as with a complaining customer, perhaps? Are you feeling embarrassed and therefore mad at yourself? Is someone taking advantage of you, being condescending, or making you look stupid? Has someone ripped you off? Often anger is a defense mechanism.
Deescalate your feelings. Take a few seconds to recognize what you are feeling; the sensation behind the anger before your frustration becomes physical and erupts into the world. If you can catch that emotional reaction early enough and own it, you will be more than halfway to managing any situation in a healthier way. Gaining perspective is the golden key to de-escalation. In those few seconds, tell yourself, this confrontation is not personal. Even if the anger is directed at you, the chances are that the person causing your blood pressure to escalate is reacting to a situation – not because they don’t like your face. Of course, assuming you are not dealing with someone threatening you with physical harm, in which case the best course of action is to remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible.
Let your emotional state subside before reacting to any confrontation, whether or not you are the angry one in the situation. In most cases, what you hear is not an attack; there is no real threat; it is information, although probably delivered in a passionate manner. If you can stabilize your emotional state, you will be able to develop a more productive strategy to deal with the situation.
Listen. Nothing defuses a confrontation faster than when someone starts listening. As a bonus, active listening helps you keep the lid on what you’d really like to unload on the buffoon in front of you. It allows you to begin to understand their point of view and realize they may have a point after all; in fact, you might start to regret thinking of them as a buffoon in the first place. If they are angry, acknowledge their anger. Often people just need to vent. By being calm, you will set the scene and possibly change the reality. By reframing the disagreement and listening to someone vent, your own anger will often dissipate. There’s nothing like seeing someone fuming and out of control to help you realize how ineffective it is to lose your cool.
Redirect. Once you are in control of your emotions, you can redirect your energy to finding a win-win solution to the situation. Understanding the cause of your anger will help you reframe the narrative in your head, dissipate the negative emotions you are feeling, and allow you to focus on an equitable way forward.
For most of us, anger is a natural and manageable emotion; it comes and goes and is not a debilitating problem. Almost everyone gets angry from time to time, except perhaps for Buddhist monks and others who have managed to train their minds to serve the greater good. Hopefully, this article can open a conversation about how we might best deal with losing our temper in our work life. If you struggle with managing your anger, we encourage you to seek help from anger management professionals.
Coach's Corner - Any Regrets?
“We all have regrets in our lives.” ― Garima Soni
We have all met people who state that they have no regrets. In fact, you may be one of those people. In his recent book, The Power of Regret, Daniel H. Pink, author of numerous best-selling books including When, and Drive, states that to have regrets is a natural human feeling and should not be discounted. Accepting that everyone has regrets allows us to move forward and learn from them.
In the first section of his book, Pink presents numerous examples, based on many studies, of how regrets can be beneficial to one’s learning and success. Here are three of his key findings which demonstrate how one can benefit from regrets.
- Regret can improve subsequent decisions. Contemplating poor past decisions allows one to learn and use that information to make better decisions in the future.
- Regret can improve performance. One can use feelings of regret to enhance one’s persistence and desire to do better in future activities.
- Regret can deepen meaning. Thoughtfully reflecting on past regrets will bring about a greater understanding of new situations.
Most, if not all, human beings experience regret at some point. In The Power of Regret, Pink outlines four ways people deal with feeling regret.
- People bury or ignore their feelings (regrets), which leads to inner turmoil and can fester over time.
- People minimize or diminish their feelings of regret.
Neither of the ways described above helps people move forward or provides a positive learning experience.
- People accept their feelings of regret but focus on them to an unhealthy extent. In this scenario, ruminating on regrets inhibits taking action and can lead to depression.
The three ways of dealing with or acknowledging regret listed above are not particularly useful or helpful.
- Finally, people accept their regrets and thoughtfully evaluate the circumstance that brought forth the regrets. Instead of dwelling on them, they learn from them. They use the experience as a catalyst for future successful behaviour.
Ask yourself. What regrets do I have? How do I feel about my regrets? What can I learn from them that will help me make better decisions in the future?
“Let all your regrets and mistakes become your sails and your rudders, and not your anchors.” ― Sotero M Lopez II
Paul Abra, Motivated Coaching