Dave Sherman Successful Networking Made Simple

It's All In The Eyes

December 22, 2006

Let’s wrap up this discussion on proper introductions by looking at one of the best ways to start creating more connections.  It is also one of the hardest things for people to do.  I’m talking about making great eye contact with others when you introduce yourself. 

It's amazing how many communication skills books and courses talk about the myth that 'good' eye contact means gazing fixedly into the other person's eyes. For a few people, this will work well. However, many people are likely to find it uncomfortable to the point that they begin to wonder if you are trying to hypnotize them or ask them for a date, or both. 

If you meet many people in your daily life, it's a good idea to think about how you make eye contact - it is, after all, one of the first things people use to form an impression of you!  If you spend some time observing people, you will soon recognize that there are many different eye contact styles:

(1) The Fixed Stare Style: Their eyes never leave you and practically bore through you. Occasionally, this style is used as a power trick to intimidate or to give the impression that people is more confident than they really are. This has been used by politicians who have been thoroughly coached in how to appear a lot more trustworthy than they often turn out to be!

(2) The Darting Glance Style:  They do look at you – but with very brief glances. They tend to look at you only when your gaze is averted. This style can give the impression of either low self confidence or lack of trustworthiness, so if it happens to be your natural style, you may wish to remedy the situation rather than transmit such a non-verbal message.

(3) The No-Eye-Contact style: Their eyes rarely, if ever, meet yours. They use peripheral vision to watch you. This style is much favored by country dwellers whose lifestyle has not included many opportunities for gazing into the eyes of other humans.

(4) The Turn-And-Turn-About Style:  This is the most common style. They look quite steadily at you while you are speaking. However, if you appear to find this uncomfortable, they will look away occasionally to avoid creating tension.

When you understand how important eye contact can be when meeting and connecting with others, you'll start remembering to do it more often. 

Never Underestimate the Handshake

December 21, 2006

The second step of a successful introduction is shaking hands.  Shaking hands is probably the most common gesture people use on a daily basis.  Men and women alike use it constantly in business and social situations. It is typically the first contact between two people and the first chance to establish a connection and a relationship. Your handshake conveys an impressive, non-verbal message, many times before you speak verbally. 

Many times our handshake forms the first impression … an impression that speaks very loudly about who and what we are… what is your handshake saying about you?

Here are 5 tips to help you ensure a powerful and confident handshake in business:

1. Always stand up - whether you are a man or a woman, you should rise.
2. Face the person squarely, not at an angle.

3. The handshake should be a "web to web": contact between your thumb and index finger. By

shaking hands web to web, this avoids the dead fish or fingertip only handshake.

4. Thumbs should be straight up. Avoid rolling one hand over or under for this may often denote a power struggle.

5. Make direct eye contact and hold the gaze through the introduction.

(Thank you to Cynthia Grasso from the Charleston School of Protocal)

By Dave Sherman

Never Underestimate the Handshake!

The Power of a Smile

December 20, 2006

By Dave Sherman

Since I know that walking up to a total stranger is a major challenge for many of you, allow me to share with you the first of three important parts of an initial introduction.

The first and most important step to approaching new people is to have a great smile.  Some of us can do this naturally but this can be a challenge for other people.  I don’t care if you are the biggest sourpuss in the world, anyone can conjure up a good smile when they need to.

Have you ever wondered why a smile is so powerful?  It’s just a small facial expression that is caused by the upturning of your lips and the displaying of many of your teeth.  However, it’s so much more.

1) Smiles show friendship – it is kind of like a peace offering for the new people you are meeting.  It shows them that you are friendly and warm and have a desire to meet them.

2) Smiles make new friends – This is a universally known symbol of kindness.  All over the world, the smile is used to create the beginning of so many relationships.

3) Smiles make other people's day brighter – Think about the people you know that always have a smile on their face.  We typically feel happier when we see them.

4) Smiles improve your day – Try this little experiment.  The next time you are having a bad day, unclench your jaws for a while and smile.  I guarantee that you will start to feel much better.

5) Smiles put others at ease – When meeting people for the first time, the best way to create connections is to do what you can to help make the other people feel more comfortable. 

Elevating Your Elevator Speech

December 19, 2006

By Dave Sherman

The #1 question that people ask when starting a conversation with a total stranger is "what do you do?"  I call this the universal icebreaker.  It works beautifully almost every time because you know that everyone has an answer to this simple question.  The problem most people face is that they have NO idea the right way to answer this simple question.  Allow me to provide you a few suggestions.

1.     Only focus on the benefits that you provide – When people ask you what you do, answer the question as if they said, “what do you do FOR ME?”  This way, you will always focus on the benefit that you can bring to other people and they will be more likely to ask you for more information.

2.     Make it short and simple – The biggest mistake you can make when answering the question, “what do you do,” is launching into some long-winded, confusing, and boring sales pitch about your company.  An elevator speech should be no longer than 30-60 seconds, it should contain no acronyms or industry buzzwords and it should be simple enough for a ten-year old to understand.

  1. Know what you're going to say before you say it - I know this might sound like an obvious statement, but over 90% of the people have no idea what they're going to say until it's time to say it.  Take a few minutes and think about the clearest and easiest way for you to get your message across and watch how quickly people will respond to you.

Networking Your Way to Amazing Success

December 18, 2006

By Dave Sherman

Hi.  My name is Dave Sherman and I’m a professional icebreaker.  Ever met one of them before?  What I do is help people feel more comfortable, more confident and more successful when they want to introduce themselves to a total stranger.  I have the honor of sharing a bunch of networking tips, tricks, and techniques with you this week that are easy to apply and simple to use.  If you have any questions, please post them here. 

Let’s start off with a few simple tips.

1. If you are attending a function where you will be wearing a name badge, always wear it on the right side.  It makes it easier for people to see and simpler for people to remember your name. 

2. Try to show up at every event you attend at least 15 minutes early.  This will allow you to meet the movers and shakers of the event, you’ll feel more comfortable walking into a room filled with 20 people instead of 200 and you’ll have better opportunities to start conversations with people.

3. Don’t start a conversation with your business card.  If you do, there is a 99% chance that card will end up in the trash.  Wait until people ask you for your card or until you feel that some interest has been generated in you or your company.

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