June 2007

Testimonial on the Power of Networking

Testimonial on the Power of Networking

I would just like to share with you a letter I recently received from a reader of my newsletters. I think it is an inspiring testament to the power of networking.

Dear Karin,

I regularly enjoy reading your newsletters, but the May newsletter especially touched my heart.

As you know, my job is a lot about networking. And the more I try to fine-tune these skills, the more I find how hard it is to be a good “networker”.

Last week was not a good week for me but then I found time to read your newsletter and it switched on a light bulb in my head. I know that you cannot feel high all the time, but it is essential that even in the times of “crisis” I don’t quit trying, but will try even harder.

As you say – to make long story short – that unhappy week ended with a concert that my company sponsored, followed by the party at the Czech embassy. Despite feeling quite down, I decided to go there.

The concert was ok and then – as a representative of the main sponsor – I went to the party, even though I didn’t know anybody there and everybody seemed to know each other. I felt uneasy, depressed, just wanted to be in my bed. As you can imagine, the party was the last place in the world where I wanted to be at that moment.

But then I remembered your newsletter.

As a good networker, I need to get to know at least one person a week. So I gulped down a glass of wine for courage, grinned my teeth and went straight up to the ambassador to ask him if the concert was ok etc. Needless to say, I got home around 3 a.m. collecting many business cards and giving away many of mine. Met wonderful people who I need for my job here, agreed quite a few appointments…

I just felt great!!!

So I totally agree with what you taught me, that it is easy to be king within your comfort zone.

But stepping out of it is much harder that it might seem. However, from my own experience overcoming a little discomfort in the beginning is usually rewarded many times. And exactly as you put it – the worst thing that can happen to you is getting a cold shoulder. So what…:-)))

Ever yours, your big admirer

Eva

Toastmasters in Prague (www.toastmasters.cz)

Improve your presentations and speeches!

Learn how to be a persuasive speaker!

Gain confidence in front of a crowd!

The Prague Speakers Club and the Bohemian Toastmasters in Prague can help you to improve your public speaking skills and gain confidence in front of an audience. Both clubs host a good mix of Czech and international members and offer anyone the chance to improve their communication, speaking and leadership skills, as well as meet new people.

While all meetings are in English, being a native English speaker is not necessary to join.

If you’re interested in finding out more about this excellent learning and networking opportunity, visit the Toastmasters website at http://www.bohemiantoastmasters.org.

Prague Daily Monitor

The Prague Daily Monitor (www.praguemonitor.com), the Czech Republic’s English daily electronic newspaper, is offering a special package for SMEs this June.

  • Basic (three-reader) corporate subscription to monitorplus (including concise Czech press review and other exclusive features)
  • Advertising in the Monitor in formats of your choice

Get the important Czech business and political news, and reach the Czech and international business community with your advertising message, with the Prague Daily Monitor.

For more information and/or other options, contact Sylvie Dejmkova at sylvie@praguemonitor.com.

Calendar

June 11, 18, 25 Bohemian Toastmasters in Prague (http://www.bohemiantoastmasters.org)
June 19 Power Lunch: Creating a Winning Image

Communication Tip of the month: A Winning Image

Your image is your most important communication tool – Lauren Solomon, “Image Matters”

In the world of business today, how we look and present ourselves is a key consideration in achieving a higher degree of professional success. It is no longer enough just to be smarter and more qualified than our peers; we also have to look smart and qualified. Studies have proven that there is a clear link between appearance and career advancement.

The way people perceive us, regardless of how realistic their impression might be, often has a significant influence on our initial success or failure. From personal experience, I have learned that people who cultivate their image deliberately and strategically often have more doors open to them than those who neglect their appearance or present themselves carelessly.

Whether we like it or not, everyone has an image; the question is whether we are aware of it and whether we are prepared to do to what it takes to make it work in our favor.

A recent Elle/MSNBC Work and Power Survey reported that “good looking bosses were found to be more competent, collaborative and better delegators than their less attractive counterparts”. Since our actions and motives are constantly under scrutiny, we would be wise to pay attention to our professional image and learn how to manage it before others do it for us.

And looking good has nothing to do with physical age. I know plenty of “mature” men and women who look and feel 10 times better than their 25 year-old counterparts. In fact, I have learned to appreciate and even love my wisdom lines because I’ve earned them!

Nevertheless, being consistent in how we present ourselves and having the personality to match our image is vital to ensuring that people take us seriously. At the end of the day, they simply want to know who they are dealing with and whether he or she is the best person for the job.

Based on 25 years of experience in the business world, here are my suggestions for creating a winning image:

Dress for the occasion

Ségolène Royal, the socialist politician and candidate for the 2007 French presidential elections has learned to leverage her feminine appearance. When speaking to the general public, she wears mostly dresses or skirts and is often dressed in white. A black leather jacket is suitable when meeting with university students while a smart, dark business suit works well when addressing the military. Her image and clothing have become part of her political communication strategy.

Luckily for her, as a woman, Ségolène Royal has a lot more possibilities to choose from than her male counterparts. She has also understood that the proper use of color is vital to enhancing her political image.

Use colors to enhance your message

The use of color plays a significant role in memory recall and, more than any other method of communication, has the power to convey a message instantly. Of course, colors must be well chosen, depending on the image we want to present, the culture we come from and the company or business we work in.

In the Western world, you can experiment the effectiveness of colors by wearing red when negotiating an issue or confronting someone; blue to signal that you are open to communicate and possibly to compromise; green to manifest collaboration and the ability to work in a team; yellow is ideal for a brain storming session or problem solving as it stimulates our intellect and that of those around us; orange projects a sense of confidence and power; both purple and pink evoke creativity, fun and excitement; white of course is the universal color and send a message of purity and simplicity.

Your body as a communication tool

Our image conveys the degree of trust and confidence people will have in us. To ensure that we are sending out the right signals, we should never forget that our bodies are our most important communication tool. Appropriate body language starts with maintaining eye contact and always keeping good posture.

Eye contact is important whether we are having a private conversation or are speaking to a large audience. By avoiding making eye contact, we are sending out a signal that perhaps we lack confidence or are nervous and unprepared.

Our posture automatically gives people an impression of our authority and attitude. To convey an air of self-assurance, we must avoid slouching or taking postures that may project a lack of self-confidence. To improve your posture, place your feet shoulder width apart and lean slightly forward. By pulling your shoulders slightly forward at the same time, you’ll appear more confident. Your head and spine should be held straight but in a natural, relaxed way that looks comfortable.

Whether we are interviewing for a job, climbing the corporate ladder or already in the corner office, dynamic and clear body language helps to communicate a sense of trust and competence. Walking, talking and looking like a trustworthy and confident person will encourage people to believe in us and follow us.

Create your image

The American actress Mae West once said “It isn’t what I do, but how I do it. It isn’t what I say, but how I say it, and how I look when I do it and say it.”

Bear in mind that the majority of people make decisions based on an initial impression of what they see, smell or hear. When meeting people, we might sometimes remind ourselves that they do not have a copy of our Curriculum Vitae in front of them and that our appearance is usually the only key they have to go by. For this reason, it is even more important to understand what our appearance says about us and what kind of message it communicates.

The truth is that there are scores of experts with the right qualification and credentials who are barely ever recognized. On the other hand, there are just as many people who may not have the same background or skills but who win people’s confidence simply because they know the importance of image and are adept at presenting themselves well. One only has to look at the current European or American political scene to see a prime example of this fact.

Communicate the message you want to send out

People constantly observe our behavior and form theories about our abilities or character. By having a clear picture of the image we want to present and expressing it to others, we can influence people’s ideas about who we are and what we are capable of.

We are walking advertisements for ourselves. Our appearance and behavior have an enormous impact on the way people perceive us. When we look and act the part, we reinforce who we are and what we can offer.

Nevertheless, while physical appearance and appropriate behavior are fundamental to successfully projecting our image, we should never forget the importance of credibility and authenticity. Without these key characteristics, any attempt to influence people and gain their trust will be undermined. Only by presenting ourselves in a way that is true to who we are and can be believed by others, will we create a winning image that reflects our true self.