Here’s a fun way to effectively communicate who you are and what you do:
One of the quickest ways to connect with others is by sharing what inspires you. When you share your passions with others your inspiration will inspire them and this creates a natural doorway for communication.
First Exercise (Approximately Five minutes):
Take thirty seconds to think about something you love. It can be a person, an activity, a place, a book, a movie or piece of art…anything that comes to mind. Now turn to the person next to you and take two minutes to share what you love with them and then ask them to share for two minutes what they love with you.
After you finish notice how you feel. Has your energy shifted in someway? If you finish speaking before others around you finish, take a moment to notice their energy level in the room. Chances are you feel great, and those around you are feeling great too!
It feels good to talk about what we love and yet so often when we gather for networking – especially when it is networking related to business - we forget to share this aspect of ourselves or invite others to do so.
Second Exercise (Approximately Five minutes):
Now take 30 to 60 seconds to think about your business, in particular focus on something you love about the work you do. Then turn to someone new (preferably someone you don’t know) and introduce yourself: Give your name, the name of your company and your professional title and take one to two minutes to talk with them about those aspects of your work that you most enjoy. Once you are finished ask them to take one to two minutes to share what they love about their work with you.
Have fun! Don’t worry about communicating all the intricacies of your work, simply allow yourselves to focus on the joy you feel in sharing this aspect of your work-life and when you are both finished exchange business cards. If you would like to know more, make a point to connect later.
How to effectively communicate who you are and what you do
Great networking is about connecting. Be it personal or professional – the heart of successful networking is about building meaningful connections. Those who network well understand how to engage with others on a personal level and connect with them on subjects that are meaningful to them.
One of the most enjoyable ways to do this is to pay attention to what others love. Listen for their interests and ask them to share about their passions. If you meet at a business gathering consider beginning a conversation with the question: What do you love about your work? If the person you are speaking with doesn’t happen to love their job, ask them what they do love and spend some time talking about this. If they seem interested, share what you love. Once you are able to connect on this level, feel free to steer the conversation more specifically toward work. Now, you are both more likely to enjoy this conversation. If you failed to share the details of your work simply exchange business cards and suggest that you speak later either by phone or make plans to meet for coffee.
Too often in business networking we focus on simply communicating the nuts and bolts of our work and neglect to reach out to others from our heart – we forget to share our passion: what we love about the work we do. Sometimes you only have thirty to sixty seconds to tell someone what you do – the proverbial “elevator speech” – and the pressure of time can cause you to stick to the basics. In the moment it seems more important to say you’re a florist than to express your love of flowers.
Of course it is important to be able to clearly communicate the bottom line specifics of your work, but the truth is the reason someone will ultimately choose to hire you over someone else in your field is because of the connection they feel with you. Sharing what you love is inspiring to others and draws them close.
Notice the difference in meeting someone who says “hi I’m Bonnie, I make floral arrangements for birthdays, weddings, funerals, proms and other special events,” and someone who introduces themselves by saying “hi I’m Bonnie, I love working with fragrant flowers and exotic plants, combining rich colors and textures to create unique bouquets that help people express feelings words cannot convey.”
In the first introduction you will have a pretty clear understanding about the specifics of Bonnie’s work, but you won’t really know anything about Bonnie. You won’t have any reason to choose her over any other florist out there. In the second introduction she has painted a mental picture of her work. You now have an image of her surrounded by colorful plants and flowers joyfully creating floral works of art. The next time you have an important event or want to express feelings of appreciation, love or sympathy you will be more likely to choose Bonnie because she has conveyed the love she feels for her work and you can sense that she is someone who pours love and joy into what she does.
The same is true of any profession. When we take the time to tell others what we love about our work, it communicates volumes about our ability to bring this energy and spirit to our customers and put this love into everything we do.
Inspiration creates inspiration. When people see what inspires you they feel uplifted and energized and will naturally be more open to anything else you tell them about your work. Think about why you choose your profession – what attracted you to the field. This is the juice that will capture the attention of others and this is what will help them remember you when they or someone they know needs the services you provide.
It is easy to overlook the importance of expressing your spirit, but this is really what others are looking for when they ask you to talk about your work. Your values draw others close to you, and help them connect with and be inspired by the work you do. When people feel your passion and understand your motivations they are naturally more inclined to want to work with you and help your business grow.
When it comes to business networking, what matters most is effectively communicating who you are, while educating others about the specific work that you do. Making a meaningful connection does not require a long stretch of uninterrupted conversation. What is needed is an understanding of what is important to others – listening for what inspires them and speaking to this, or to connect by sharing what inspires you, or both!
The next time someone asks you what you do, pause and think about what you love about your work; then make a point to share this. Don’t be surprised if they lean in closer. When you share your passions with others your inspiration will inspire them and they will naturally want to know more about what you do.