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Susan RoAne Brings Charm and Humor to Networking Advice

May 12, 2010

by Joanne Cantor
Professional Member

Best-selling author and Mingling Maven® Susan RoAne educated and entertained us all at our May 6th meeting. Her presentation titled “Schmooze or Lose! Making Contact: Building Relationships in a Digital World,” was chock full of valuable advice both for networking for success and for preparing and delivering a dynamite presentation. Her advice was gift-wrapped in dozens and dozens of charming, humorous stories about her speaking experiences and her family and friends.

Her nuggets of wisdom were bountiful. Here are some of the ones I was able to scribble down [Note: Susan made it a point to always attribute quotes and advice to the people she learned them from. Unfortunately, I was so busy recording the wisdom that I sometimes missed the source. My apologies to any sources I’ve overlooked!]

Some of Susan’s Tips for Networking

1. To be an effective networker ignore “Mother’s Dire Warnings”:

  • a) Ignore “Don’t talk to strangers.” — Redefine “stranger” by finding out what you have in common with the people you’re going to meet. Do your research in advance using newspapers, websites Facebook, etc.
  • b) Ignore “Wait for an introduction.” — Prepare a short (7-9 sec) self-introduction: “Hi, I’m _______________. It’s so nice to meet you. . . . ” What you say next should be tailored to where you are; explain your connection. When you explain what you do, put it in terms of the benefit you bring (Patricia Fripp). Give them something to ask you a question about. You never know who’s there who can help you in your career. Be nice to everyone.
  • c) Ignore “Good things come to those who wait.” –- Initiate conversations. Remember, Professor Philip Zimbardo says that more than 90% of people self-identify as shy. When you approach someone who’s alone, it makes them feel important. Remember, everyone likes attention. Think about making them feel welcome and you’ll forget your own shyness. Adele Scheele says that savvy people act as hosts and not as guests. Circulate, and introduce other people to each other.
    REMEMBER: Don’t denigrate small talk. Movie mogul, Sir Alex Korda said, “Small talk is the biggest talk we do.” Give other people something to connect with you about.

2. Tips for turning small talk into BIG TALK!

Break the ice by bringing your OAR: Offer observations, Ask questions, Reveal information. Conversation is not just about asking questions. Add something relevant about yourself. Let your work come into the conversation naturally (“I had a client who had a similar problem . . .”). Tips for the graceful exit: If the conversation has been great, promise to send them that article you mentioned; if it’s been dreadful, say you hope they enjoy the rest of the event; if it hasn’t gone anywhere, introduce them to someone they might have more in common with.

3. Tips for “working a room”

Do your research. Make it lighthearted and fun. Wear an interesting necklace or tie that they can comment on. Be approachable: smile and give eye-contact. Use the “buddy system.” If you’re there with a friend, let them introduce you with enthusiasm and you can do the same for them.

4. Top traits of the best networkers (from The Secrets of Savvy Networking)

  • a) Always acknowledge any help, kindness, information, leads, etc., with gifts and thank-you’s.
  • b) Stay in touch when you need nothing.
  • c) Follow up: Do what you said you’d do.

Some of Susan’s Tips for Giving Great Presentations

  • Get there early; be the official greeter; find out about your audience and bring what you learned into your talk.
  • Response to an off-the-wall or heckling comment: Say (sweetly), “Oh, I have nothing to say to that!” and move on.
  • Always use a microphone; with a hand-held one, you have more control.
  • Always give credit to your sources.
  • Know what’s happening where you’re going: in the community, in the company, in the world. Get “with it” by reading the paper, the sports page, People Magazine, USA Today (you can find news from every state).
  • Think and act both digitally (web, blog, Facebook, Linked-in, Twitter, etc.) and analog (face-to-face; and pick up the phone once in a while!).

Some of Susan’s Tips for Your Own Professional Development

  • Be wary of boot-camp type promotional come-ons. Do due diligence to find out if they’re worth the money. Go to the Speakers Linked-in group to get others’ opinions. “Invest in your own business, not someone else’s.”
  • Come to NSA chapter meetings.
  • Qualify for NSA membership.
  • Join NSA.
  • Get advice and mentoring from other members.
  • Go to National Conventions.

To sum up, Susan RoAne’s presentation was filled not only with advice for succeeding in the speaking business; it was full of wise tips for leading a happy, rewarding life. Thank you for everything, Susan!

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