Networking: How To Be The Most Interesting Person In The Room

I recently came across this topic because I am organizing an event on this them with my non-profit team for Lean In Vancouver. In the midst of searching for a speaker who can lead our networking event, friends and mentors of mine got to talking about what actually makes a person interesting. There were a few great pointers that came out of our discussion and I will share them with you.

  1. BE INTERESTED! To be interesting to others you first have to be INTERESTED in learning about them. If you are interested to know this person beyond what they do for a living, and ask questions regarding such topics, they will find you much more interesting to talk to because you have taken an active interest in who they are as a person, and what they do.
  2. BE A GOOD LISTENER. I don’t even have to go into details with all the statistics that reinforce how LITTLE we listen to others, because we are always thinking of the next great thing that will come out of our mouths. Listen to what others are sharing with you and take the time to appreciate the fact that they are sharing with you. Great listeners ask great questions because they pay attention – and that makes them interesting.
  3. WELCOME OTHERS. It’s a skill to be in a conversation and keeping an eye out for people who are at events alone, looking to join in on a conversation. They would love it if you were inclusive and welcomed these people into your conversation. The more the merrier!

Try out the three simple tips above and it will make a world of a difference in your networking interactions – you will be building real friendships / relationships instead of just exchanging business cards.

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Dare to Explore

Resting on a long weekend Monday for me means letting my mind explore.

A business idea has been brewing in my mind for a few months now and so far I have prototyped it, did some initial interviews with vested parties (groups that would use the service) and gotten back some great questions, feedback and support. Of course there are opinions from the consumer end as well, and not all were approving.

Some comments:

  • This isn’t for me
  • This isn’t for the XYZ market
  • I could see value for this for ABC market, but not the mass market
  • How long will this last, the market won’t be hot forever

All these points are well taken, but here’s the positive spin on it.

  • Great – it means it’s not for you but for somebody else.
  • Great – not for XYZ market means it could be for ABC market – a product/service should have its lovers and haters or else you would be sadly, nothing.
  • Great – as long as there is a way to make the service profitable for a niche market, it’s still a win.
  • Sure – but when is it hot forever? I can apply this comment to every single business out there but hey, we’re all still working every day right? Might as well work to earn all that we can so that when the market isn’t hot anymore we can feel safe from all that we have saved, earned from NOW until then.

So – if you have an idea, at least explore it. Talk to parties about it, do your research, and commit to a small investment that would tell you whether the market would respond to your proposed product/service. A small pilot would do, but it still takes time and effort. The point is, don’t stop at the first negative comments that are thrown at you, get the service out there and see what the market says to a tangible product/service.

If they hate it – move on. If they love it – keep at it. You might have hit something big!

Yesterday You Said Tomorrow.

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We have all done it. Procrastinate. Yesterday you said tomorrow. Tomorrow you will say the day after. Why do you procrastinate? Because you are afraid of failing? Or maybe even… afraid of succeeding?

Whatever it is, own it. If you don’t do it. Somebody else will.

Progress is a choice – YOU have the power to change things

Today in a meeting I was told it’s recommended that I take progress slow with a potential new charity I might get involved with and not try to change too many things at once.

For those who know how I do things, the exact words that went through my head were: “Challenge accepted!” – I’ve always liked to work with moving parts, change multiple things at once, because bigger changes meant you could go UP a lot, or DOWN a lot. Not only is this process fascinating to me, it’s also a thrill to oversee entire turnarounds in a business.

I was told that there were no more resources to be allocated, that first we needed a plan, many plans, before new things can be implemented…

Having built and operated a few startups both in the for-profit and non-profit sector, I’ve learned these things:

  1. When there’s no more resources, go find more (seriously, you’re not trying hard enough).
  2. A plan is a work in progress, and changes as soon as you’re done writing it – you might as well go out and DO stuff and make some progress that you can actually write about.

I also don’t stick to the way things “have always been done”. If I followed those rules then I would never have built a peer-to-peer forex platform, never pulled together a fashion show in an ambitious 1.5 months, or had the crazy thought of calling up Vogue to host Fashion’s Night Out in Vancouver.

If you don’t try, you don’t know. If you want to do things the way they have always been done, you’ll get mediocre results at best. It’s your choice.