Category Archives: How To Network

Attract Attention with One Little Word

Notice how people sit up and listen to you – immediately

Small, simple things make a big difference.  We all know it and it’s often these small, subtle distinctions we add – accessories if you will – which change the course and outcome of our conversations and connections.

This is going to be so obvious to you – it probably is already from the title above – the power of using people’s names; the power of hearing your own name when it’s used; the way it immediately engages and connects you; how it even wakes you up!

It’s also powerful to know that the fastest way to disconnect from someone – intentionally or otherwise – is to confuse their name, mispronounce their name and keep forgetting their name.  It’s a real turn off.

We all know how easy it is to pontificate and chat away to people – in writing as well as face-to-face – and never mention their name?  Well, the minute – or let’s say, the second – you decide to start using everyone’s name more, then you’ll notice immediately how much more engaged people are with you; how you have their attention – sometimes despite them not wanting to give it to you.

It tells them, and you, that you’re thinking of them; it says that you actually know their name (so many people don’t take any notice of your name and it’s just that – your name, your identity).  When you use people’s names more it tells them that you’re engaging with them, that you’re directing your message directly to them and for them and not generally throwing it out there.

It’s a subtle, secret and easy bit of sparkle to add in to your conversations; your emails; your meetings; your networking; your cocktail parties – everything.

Here’s how to use people’s names with intention and still be comfortable:

  • If you’re running a meeting or have a group of people on the phone for example, sprinkle in people’s names – the effect is startling.  The message the person’s brain hears is ‘oh, it’s us, we’re on.  We’d better pay attention.’  It’s really powerful to know this.
  • Sometimes, when you’re first introduced to someone, you forget; you’re mid-flow and then realise, with horror, you’ve forgotten their name. If you make it your new habit to immediately say back their name to them as you’re introduced ‘well, nice to meet you Jane’ or ‘Jane, it’s a pleasure meeting you’ two things happen. Firstly, you tell Jane you heard her name and have remembered it; your greeting is more meaningful to her because her name is included in there. Secondly, it helps you to ‘engage brain’ and remember her name. You can start avoiding those ‘help, I’ve forgotten who I’m talking to’ moments, which are both excruciating and also a reflection of our lack of attention towards that person. Oops.
  • So, how do you start using someone’s name comfortably? The word comfortably is important here. It’s not about saying ‘Oh yes, Jane, I agree Jane – and Jane what do you think about that Jane?’ Of course it’s not. The way I find most comfortable and a great way to start, is to use a person’s name when asking them a question or when asking for a response. ‘So Jane, how long have you been working here?’ or ‘tell me a bit more about that, Jane, please.’
  • When you greet people today, use their name!  ‘Hi there X’ and ‘Morning X, how’s it going?’  Notice yourself doing this and notice the response.  Often it will be one of surprise.  It really jolts the other person when they hear their name, especially when it’s unexpected.  It’s so easy to just say ‘Hi there’ or ‘Morning’ without using the person’s name.  Engage with them and grab their attention and one of the easiest ways to do this is to use their name.

If you don’t believe me, take it from that master of human relations Dale Carnegie who, in his famous book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ said, “If you want to win friends, make it a point to remember them.  If you remember my name, you pay me a subtle compliment; you indicate that I have made an impression on you.  Remember my name and you add to my feeling of importance.” Thank you for writing your timeless book Mr Carnegie, enough said.

Let me know your thoughts about this tricky old subject below. I’d love to hear from you.

How In Touch Should You Be On Your Holiday?

Managing being “Out of the Office” and Your Inbox – Part 2

It’s the dilemma that’s so common now – when you’re  “Out of the Office”, how “Out” of the office are you?  Following on from Part1 and the importance of putting some helpful structure to your email ‘out of office’ bounceback, a simple-to-follow formula of Acknowledge/Inform/Guide is useful and hits the spot. It’s also the safest bet to show your clients, customers and colleagues how professional, helpful and thoughtful you are. You are, aren’t you?

Depending on how you’ve decided to handle being away by doing one of the following:

  • Read your emails regularly whilst you’re away, twice per day for example
  • Have someone read them and then sort out the ones you need to read when you return or
  • Read them all but only when you return you can just slot your information in and then lean into enjoying your holiday.

Here are a few simple samples to slot your words into:

Reading your emails regularly whilst you’re away

  • Acknowledge:  Thanks for your message and I’m away from the office until August X.
  • Inform:  I will be reading and responding to my emails in the meantime and will do this twice per day. 
  • Guide:  If you message is urgent and you need immediate assistance, please email John Smith, Title, who will help you.  You can email him at — or call him on 123 456 7890.  Thanks again, Your Name. 

Someone reads them, sorting out the ones you need to read on your return

  • Acknowledge:  Thanks for your message and I’m away from the office until August X.
  • Inform:  My colleague, Jim Smith, Title will be accessing my emails during my absence and will make sure any which need immediate attention are handled. 
  • Guide:  If you want to speak to Jim Smith or call him direct whilst I’m away, he can be contacted at —– or you can call him on 123 456 7890 

Read them all but only when you return

  • Acknowledge:  Thanks for your message and I’m out-of-the-office at the moment.
  • Inform:  I will return to the office again on August X and in the meantime I have no access to my emails
  • Guide: If you require immediate assistance, please contact Jane Smith,  Title,  who will be happy to help you.  You can email Jane:  ——-       or call her direct on: 123 456 7890.  Thanks again, Your Name.

There’s always a balance to achieve and to weigh up how your emails impact on your time away is a decision you have to make yourself.  There’s always a rub.

If you decide to read them and respond to them whilst you’re away, agree you’ll read them and respond to them for a certain period of time, say an hour, every day at the same time.  Plans can then be made around that and you can tell people when you’ll get back to them.  Managing their and your holiday companions expectations too!

Helping yourself by discussing this first with everyone makes it easy for them to understand and let you get on with it.  Trying to do it between trips or between meals just becomes stressful.

You may, or may not agree but this quote sums up the point here:  “Time for work – yet take much holiday, for art’s and friendship’s sake”.  George de Wilde

Putting a bit of structure in place will set you free and anyway, everyone needs some down-time, some time to reboot, so lean into a successful holiday, a managed inbox and your art and friendships too.

How to Manage Your Emails and Enjoy Your Holiday Too Part 1

It’s often the last thing on your mind and the final thing you do (if you do it at all).  The holiday time can be a frenetic build up to the last day in the office and suddenly it’s handover time.   It’s really easy to either leave this important piece completely and ‘hope for the best’ or to do it in 30 seconds and think it’ll be good enough.

The ‘important piece’ I’m referring to is this.  How you decide (or if you decide) to manage your emails and inbox whilst you’re on holiday.

You’ll notice I said ‘how you decide’ because it is a decision you make and it’s one that affects the quality of your holiday and the ease of your ‘re-entry’ after your holiday.

If you’re travelling on business it’s different.  Keeping in touch via your phone/remote email is easy enough now and a gap in timezones is usually manageable.  There are still some steps you can take to make that easier and these are steps which buy you a huge amount of credit from those who are emailing you.

If I ask you “What happens when you’re on your holiday, spending time with friends and family and your emails just keep coming?”  You’re most likely to tell me one of these three responses:

  • They just go into my inbox and just pile up until I return
  • I keep opening them and responding to them whilst I’m away
  • I go away and leave an email bounce-back for people

Well, as a savvy and influential communicator, managing your profile, your clients, your energy whilst you’re ‘Out of the Office’ plays a big part in how effective the holiday time is for you and how connected – or disconnected – you feel towards your holiday companions whilst you’re away.

Let’s think about the effects of making any one of these three decisions:

They just go into my inbox and just pile up until I return”

It’s great to leave the office and go and refresh and reboot yourself.  The thing about just leaving your inbox and walking away is the effect it has on you whilst you’re away as you anticipate the return to “Inbox Full” or lots of repeat messages from people wondering if you got their original message.  You can use a lot of energy even though you’re lying on a sun-bed or swimming in the sea as you wonder about things from a distance.

“Just walk away” has great merits and it also has a price.  Your clients, customers and colleagues wonder about your commitment to them and, if they experience you being away while leaving them ‘hanging’ until your return, it says a lot about how you are as a person to do business with.

The essence of the thinking here is that other people follow your fortunes and are relying on you for information, action or input.   Keeping them informed and updated buys you crucial credit from those people who may have to wait for something because you’re away.

A simple, clear bounce-back solves this and tells the person you’ve thought about them and catered for them whilst you’re away.  The trick is what that bounce-back says…..

“I keep opening them and responding to them whilst I’m away”

Whether you’re a business owner yourself or whether you work within a business, this is so easy to do and has as many benefits as it does drawbacks.

Obvious Benefits:  you keep your email box under control; you keep in touch; you tell people what they need and want from you; you stay in the loop; you return from holiday and you’re up-to-date, you can ‘hit the ground running’.

Obvious Drawbacks: your mind and energy kept focusing on work-related ‘stuff’; your attention was divided a lot of the time between relaxing and responding to your emails; people around you got less of your down-time self;  a lot of the time you could have been in the office as you notice less of your holiday surroundings; if anything, you got irritated with your surroundings as they distracted you.

This is a tricky one to balance.  Keeping in touch and then switching off.  When you keep focusing on work and what’s going on with it, you drastically reduce the amount of energy you rebuild whilst you’re on holiday.  We all know that changes of pace, of scenery and of thinking are the measure by which most of us gauge our holiday.  Why do you think it is so many people save up their reading up from holiday to holiday?  They crave that time and space to throw themselves into their books, hobbies, sandcastle-building…whatever it is.

If you do decide to keep opening and responding to your emails whilst you’re away, put some structure in.  Use that bounce-back and agree with yourself, your colleagues, your family how and when you’ll read your messages.  The structure you put in will give you the freedom to enjoy the time out.  Without it you can end up being ‘business as usual’.

“I go away and leave an email bounce-back for people?”

My response to clients here is always ‘great’ and then my next question is ‘tell me what your bounce-back says and what’s the point of it?’

I’ve seen some ‘corkers’ in my time – both received them from people and also been shown them by clients:

  • “I’m out of the office for 2 weeks” – no idea when you went, when you’re coming back, what I should do whilst you’re away…
  • “I’m on holiday, please call Ann Smith if it’s urgent” – no idea for how long, no idea who Ann Smith is and no email or phone number for Ann Smith (whoever she is)…
  • “I’m away from the office until 1st July 2011, I’ll be in touch again then” – at least we know how long you’re away but what do we do in the meantime?

You can get here that if you’re using the bounce-back, make it helpful, think about who will receive it and what you want them to think about you when they do!

As far as what I would recommend – that’s your decision.  Only you know what your holiday is for and about, what’s going on in your business and what the point is of reading your emails whilst you’re away.  A combination of 1, 2 and 3 is powerful.

We’ll explore combining 1, 2, and 3 above in our next eZine “Top Takeaway” article and I’ll set out some structure for you to slot your bounce-backs into, plus how to position what you decide to do about this with your holiday companions and work colleagues.

Stay tuned for Part 2 – “I’m away from the office at the moment”.