Wednesday May 13, 2015
Have you ever been to a dog park? Have you ever observed how the dogs interact with each other? There are tons of different breeds, sizes, colors and personalities. There is always a group of “greeters”, ones that cannot wait to tell the newly admitted dogs how much fun they are going to have! Then there is the group that is fully engaged in playing chase that they don’t even notice the newcomers. Then you have some solo dogs that just want to graze around the park and be left alone. Lastly, you have the dogs that are only comfortable around their humans, their comfort zone and they DO NOT want to be separated from that comfort zone.
Now let’s think about the last networking event you went to… notice any similarities in the groups? I believe there is a lot to learn from the personalities of our furry friends and believe that we as business professionals can be categorized by the similar personalities of cats and dogs. In this particular blog we are going to focus on the dogs, next week we will discuss the cats.
I want to encourage you to observe the next dog you encounter, especially if it is in a social environment for the dog. Most dogs are so quick to greet you, to make you feel important and loved. There are of course those dogs that feel uncomfortable, that their space is invaded and they react defensively. Let’s take those two attitudes and apply them to networking:
Be quick to greet, not to retreat: There is nothing more comforting than the feeling of acceptance and that you matter when attending a networking group. This is especially important if it is your first time amongst this crowd and don’t know anyone. I encourage you to “put your dog hat on” and be friendly. Introduce yourself to someone with enthusiasm and make them feel like you are truly interested in knowing them as a person.
Be accepting but know your boundaries: We all have our line of boundaries and personal space. When in a networking environment you want to be open and engaging but be sure to respect others’ personal boundaries and make yours known as well. Much of this can be done in the type of body language you have. Stand with your shoulders slightly turned from the person you are speaking to so that if someone else wants to approach the conversation they don’t feel shut out. You can also create your personal boundaries by how close you sit or stand next to someone.
Show genuine interest: Channel your inner dog and draw people in to your conversation as a dog would join a game of chase. You are all there for the same reason and therefore you instantly have common ground. Invite others to join your conversation if you see them longing for eye-contact in the corner, think of it as asking another dog to chase the same yellow ball with you.
If you start to re-think the way you network you can change the way you interact with others. By changing your interaction to be more engaging, more inviting and makes others feel important you will quickly grow your ability to build relationships in your business. It may be a silly concept, thinking of yourself as a dog, but there is a lot of truth to our silly concept. And just think, you now have an excellent conversation starter for your next event!
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To your pure success,