Saturday, May 29, 2010

Tools and Networking- Part 2

Our last post discussed tools we use to improve our networking and social activities. I talked about that little green stick and how it made my coffee drinking experience better for travel and delivery. It kept my beverage true by keeping it hot and it definitely made a lasting impression.
How can we make our networking experience better?

First impressions are the most important. Another person decides within seconds what their impression of you is. Most of us want to make a good first impression and for those who don’t want to, this probably isn’t the article you are looking for ((big smile)). That said, if we are looking to make a good impression there are several things that a person takes note of before they will open up to you mentally. We all have different things we look at but since I’m the one writing this, I will tell you what I see first!

A person’s smile.

If a new acquaintance smiles at me with a true, friendly smile- you know the kind where your eyes squint in the corners, I am almost always taken by that person! I don’t think I’m unique in that perception either.

Look at how the human race responds to a smile? You can’t help but smile when you see a baby and our goal is almost always to try to get that little one to smile. A child’s smile is beautiful with the innocence they have in their hearts and minds. And I must say when I’ve been able to make the most surly teenager smile, I feel as if I’ve won the prize of the day!

As adults, stresses take over and some people almost stop smiling. There was a cashier at my local grocery store that NEVER smiled. My daughter, Phia and I made it a goal to warm her to us so that we could see her smile. It took a few months but what a beautiful smile she had. Now, she smiles when she sees us coming.

It’s true, the expression on your face is one of the first things a person sees. There have been countless songs written about smiling. As much as I got burned out on the soundtrack of Annie when I was a little girl, the song is true. You’re never fully dressed without a smile!

So try it. Next time you are in a situation when you are around people, try smiling. It can make the coldest person warm to you and put the most timid person at ease. Ask me how I know…

((Big Smile))

Tara Schmakel- The Workroom at Tara’s and The Once Timid Networker

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The green Starbucks stick and Networking?

I would like to tell you about one of my favorite, coolest, simplest inventions. The little green stick you get at Starbucks. I have no idea what it is really called, but I love them! For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s a green plastic stick that fits perfectly into the opening on the cup cover. It has the Starbucks logo on the top. And it’s absolutely ingenious!

The first time I saw one, I was visiting my Aunt Val in Florida. She took us out for a cup and then asked if I had “ever seen one of these before?” I hadn’t and then she told me they were in the experimental stages and gave me a few. I took the extras home and put them in my car. I used and washed and reused. I loved how much easier this tool had made my coffee drinking experience.

Travel was easier because I could walk as well as drive without the coffee spilling out, either on me or my car(I hate when that happens). Delivery to a friend was easier because not only did it keep the beverage from splashing out, it also kept it hot! Yes, such a great tool!!

About four or five months later, I saw them here in Minnesota at my own favorite Starbucks location. I asked for one and they were surprised I knew what they were since they had just received them. I told them about the great impression this little item had made on me and then proceeded to sing its praises. I’m not really sure what they thought of me when I left but I didn’t care, I loved the new look of my cup!

I was removing one from my coffee lid the other day, still appreciating the value of this little tool. I smiled to myself, did a little dance in my head for the sheer coolness of it and then inspiration hit me! I thought about how we use tools to deliver our message when we network. Things that make a lasting impression, like that little green stick. What tools do you use tools to make your “delivery” easier? If you think about it, there are many at our disposal. Some are leveraged without even thinking about it, others that are very well planned out!

The next few posts will focus on specific tools, how we can use it to our benefit as well as a few things to avoid.

Tara Schmakel- The Workroom at Tara's

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What does Music have to do with Networking?

Do you ever feel the need to get yourself going? You may feel as though you just need that push to do what you have to do, something behind you. We all have different tools that we use for just that. One of my favorites is the theme song. I didn’t realize that’s what I called until recently viewing a DVD.

We’ve been getting Ally McBeal on our Netflix and have been enjoying reliving the show. The other night we watched and episode where Ally was struggling with something. Her therapist gave her an assignment- find a theme song. She was to summon this song in her mind when she was in the situation she was struggling with. In true Ally McBeal form, it hit me like a ton of bricks! I have a theme song!!

I thought back to when I first started hearing that song, wondering if it came from the show. But, I realized I’ve been doing a form of that my whole life. When I was growing up, we watched musicals whenever they would come on TV. When we got a VCR, we were able to finally watch them whenever we wanted and some, we watched on a regular basis. We also had the albums for our favorite musicals and so I would listen to the records as well. I always wished a person could sing their way through situations like they did in the movies, it sounded so much nicer than just the quiet thoughts in my head, the timid thoughts.

Music moves us all in different ways, it’s composed that way. Think of the range of emotions a person can feel from music even when there are no words. Now, put words to that music and you have something even more. Music and conjure up style and class, be invigorating or calming or can even move you to tears. Some music is sexy and sultry and others are playful and happy. Find what moves you to accomplish what you struggle with.

You can do what I do and have different songs for different things. Or just have one that does it all. It doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong, just make it work for you. As a Once Timid Networker, I cant tell you how many times I've used a theme song to psych myself up before an event. I hear it over and over and I become more confident, I am able to achieve my goal. Find your theme song and see how it helps you!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Weddings and Networking

Friday was my daughter Phia’s wedding. It was simple, beautiful and they are both so happy to be together. What does this have to do with this blog? Well, the room was filled to capacity, which means there were at least 250 people there. Most of them I knew or recognized but there were still quite a few I didn’t know. I think you know where I’m going with this…

At one time, I would have been overwhelmed by the amount of people. I would have sat down at my table with the rest of my family and waited for people to come to me. I would have felt bad later that I was unable to talk to as many people as I would have liked to and wished I wasn’t so shy. I definitely would have danced a lot because it would appear that I was too busy having fun to converse. And I would have justified it to myself by saying that I was throwing the party so I could dance if I wanted to. Yes, the Men without Hats song would have been running through my head!

Well, as a Once Timid Networker, that’s what I COULD have done.

Friday night was different though. I wasn’t thinking of myself and my own comfort, I was astounded by all of the people who came and were there because they loved Paul and Phia and wanted to share the moment with them. All I could think about was how I wanted to thank all of these guests for coming and being a part of their lives and my heart moved me to do so.
I reflected on the evening the next morning over my coffee and then throughout the weekend. I realized that Networking is sometimes a social event and often I would find myself at these events sitting at a table and waiting for people to come to me. I realized that the key to my ability to thank as many people as I could Friday night, was because I wasn’t thinking of myself. My goal was to show appreciation for those who came and make sure our guests were comfortable and taken care of.

So at your next networking event or social gathering, try shifting the focus. Think of the other people in the room. Do they look comfortable? Do they know anyone there? If not, introduce them to someone they may have something in common with. Show them around and if you are unfamiliar with your surroundings, invite them to come along as you explore where everything is. Helping others to feel relaxed and comfortable feels good, it gives you confidence and helps you to feel good about yourself.

I wasn’t able to get to every person in the room Friday night, but I can honestly say that I thanked as many people as time would allow and I was happy that I felt at ease! Congratulations to my sweet Phia and to my new Son-in-law, Paul!

Tara Schmakel-The Workroom at Tara's