Social Networking: Turning conversations into connections

Social networking is a term my wife says I use too much. But for me it’s what business and life in general is all about:

Communicating with each other.

Missing the human factor

Missing the
human factor

When you stop and think about it, how effective would your customer service, sales, teamwork, or networking be if you communicated like an android (think Star Wars robotic dialogue) by leaving out the human factor – the social element – of talking?

Too many people hear the term social networking and immediately think of Twitter, Instagram, email, and online sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and probably dozens more I haven’t heard of. Except that’s not what I’m referring to when I talk about social networking.

What I’m referring to is the social networking that happens face to face or even by phone when personally interacting with clients, co-workers, or during training seminars. The person sitting next to you at work, standing in line for your business, interested in your sales pitch, or waiting for your experienced words of wisdom expects – and deserves – more than a text message or written greeting on his Facebook page.

Deliver your message verbally – actually put the words together and say them – and your conversations can turn into connections. And we all know connections lead to more opportunities, which is the benefit of social networking.

Want more benefits? Okay, how about these…

  • Better customer service
  • Increased sales
  • Improved teamwork
  • Memorable training seminars

It’s an age-old theory and nothing I’ve made up. But sometimes we need a reminder about how a personal touch can make a difference.

Age old theory

Age old theory

Example: Instead of announcing “Next,” and bracing himself for another problem, it’s more effective for a customer service rep to smile and ask, “How may I help you?”

I know because I’ve been there and tried both. The happiness factor may not fix the problem, but it can certainly help relieve a potentially stressful situation. That’s why so many successful businesses include these stress-busting tips in their employee training.

If you don’t believe me, check out last month’s article about a certain airline based in the Southwest and turning a profit in a competitive industry. Their employees receive mandatory training in the happiness factor.

In the university course I’ve developed for public speakers (Tips, Techniques & Top Secret Information on How to Become a Better Public Speaker) I talk about how to deliver your message in a way it’s not only heard, but listened to and remembered. And if you’ve been following my communications tips in these articles, I listed three guaranteed ways to do this. Here’s a reminder:

The problem many of us have as communicators can be compared to the same reason why television commercials usually last 20 seconds or less. Audiences have a short attention span. Go ahead – blame it on technology. I do. People today are used to getting information fast.

Now, I could suggest going back to an earlier newsletter, but to save time and not tax both our attention spans, I’ll repeat three solid tips.

If you want to keep someone’s attention for longer than 20 seconds:

  1. Keep them interested
  2. Entertain them
  3. Humor them
Keep 'em interested!

Keep ’em interested!

Sorry for the 3-peat information, but at least now we’re on the same page. And speaking of pages, here’s one from my Presentation Skills Workbook on how to achieve the first goal – keeping your listener interested through verbal social networking communication:

Commit To The Message

Here’s a secret from the entertainment world shared by professional speakers, comedians and actors. If a listener thinks you’re not being honest with them, you’ll lose his respect and attention. The first step in communicating your message is to believe in what you are talking about. Truly be committed to what you are saying. In other words, cut the fat from your true message (the information you really want to convey) and deliver it with conviction.

Yeah… I know… this advice alone could make a conversation really boring. But remember, I’m also a humor / comedy coach and stress the value of communication enhancements using humor and creativity. Combine those tips with committing to your message and you’ll be a lethal communicator with a License To Talk (sorry, too many James Bond movies). But for right now we’re still competing with technology and your clients and co-workers don’t want to sift through a lot of adjectives to hear what you have to say.

Make The Message Interesting:

Know your message is important, which is why you are delivering it. If you are or appear to be sharing information that will benefit your listener, he will listen. Your message will be remembered if your client or co-worker perceives it as:

  1. New
  2. Different
  3. Personally beneficial

Now, since I also practice what I preach, I’ll stop here. The workbook for my training seminar is 46 pages long and I’m sure both of us don’t have the attention span to review all the highlights in one article. Besides, it took longer than 20 seconds for you to read this. Without any humorous or creative enhancements, I ran the risk of sounding like a Twitter, text, email, or android – and that’s no way to build a connection.

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Dave Schwensen has designed and instructs university courses in communications and presentation skills. He is an author, keynote speaker, trainer, consultant, and nationally-recognized comedy coach. He is a 2015-2016 CILC Pinnacle Award Winner for video conferences on communication skills. For information about scheduling Dave’s interactive keynote or training seminars for your next event, visit www.TalkingForSuccess.com

For Dave’s author page on Amazon.com CLICK HERE.

Copyright 2017 – North Shore Publishing

The secret to customer service, teamwork and networking

I thought the above title would grab your attention. It could be interesting, entertaining, and maybe (if you know my background) even humorous. You won’t know for sure unless you continue reading.

So… what is the secret to great customer service, productive teamwork and successful networking?

aie6gdGi4A study released in the journal Psychological Science found meaningful conversations (actual talking between people) increased productivity and the happiness factor – which is a guaranteed way (the secret!) to improve customer service, teamwork and networking.

Psychologists at the University of Arizona in Tucson and Washington University in St. Louis have finally discovered what some of us have known for years:

Small talk doesn’t cut it.

Here’s what researchers did to learn about the importance of strong conversational skills. They had volunteers complete personality and well-being assessments. Then over the next four days the volunteers wore recording devices that recorded 30 seconds of sound every 12 minutes. After sifting through 20,000 recordings, the researchers put the conversations into two groups: trivial or substantial.

two-groups-of-peopleSort of like what we do every time we’re talking with someone – right?!

They concluded that the most productive and satisfied (there’s the happiness factor again) participants spent 25% less time alone and dealing with trivial conversations – and 70% more time having substantive conversations. Researchers suggest meaningful conversations breed stronger interactions.

So let me ask you a few questions:

  • Do you want to improve customer service?
  • Do you want to increase productivity through team-building?
  • Do you want to build your client base by networking?
  • Do you want to increase sales?

This is only a guess, but I would say you answered “YES” to all of the above questions. And the answer (again, the secret) is to have more conversations your listeners will relate to and therefore, listen to and remember.

In a nutshell, here’s a winning technique:

  • Keep them interested
  • Entertain them
  • Humor them

The idea is to involve your listener by building an immediate relationship through common interests or experiences. The result should help you stand out from someone who doesn’t.

In other words – they’ll remember you.

people-laughingAs an example, in my keynotes and training seminars, I rely a lot on audience participation. Not that I don’t have a lot to say (I do!) but it’s good to build interaction and keep everyone involved. I mean seriously, who really wants to just sit there and listen to someone lecture for an hour or more? I’ll admit there are speakers who can hold our attention for a good length of time and get paid TONS of money to do it. But I’m sure we all have memories of long-winded instructors at school or group leaders at work that… well, I’m getting bored just writing about them.

If a topic isn’t presented in a way that will hold your interest, chances are it will be an hour of your life that is hard to describe to someone else:

Bored You: “Yes, we had a speaker. He talked about… something… (Insert sounds of yawning or snoring).

Interested You: “Yes, we had a speaker. He was very entertaining. Here’s what he talked about… (Insert sounds of fireworks and cheering crowds).

As any good speaker or trainer will tell you, keeping an audience’s attention is not much different than doing the same during a one-on-one conversation. The goal is to keep the listener interested in what you are saying. And a good way to do that in today’s high-speed techno society is to include an enhancing dose of personal creativity to make your informative or ice-breaking conversations entertaining and when appropriate (and always politically correct) humorous.

Informative and entertaining conversations are always memorable. It’s a winning technique in customer service, team-building and networking.

My goal as a communications trainer is NOT to change your message, but to enhance the way it is delivered. Even the psychologists agree:

Small talk doesn’t cut it.

Employ these enhancements and your conversations will not only be heard – but also listened to and remembered.

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Comment? Please use the form below. In the meantime, thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!

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Dave Schwensen is a nationally recognized comedy coach and author of six books including How To Be A Working Comic. He has designed and instructs university courses in communications and presentation skills. Dave is a keynote speaker and training seminar leader (for your next event!) and CILC Pinnacle Award Winner for video conferences on communication skills, comedy and pop culture.

For Dave’s author page on Amazon.com CLICK HERE.

For information about scheduling Dave’s training seminar or interactive keynote for your next event, or for any comments please use the contact form below or send an email to dave@davepresents.com

Copyright 2017 – North Shore Publishing

Leave them wanting more

girl finger over mouthThere’s an old showbiz saying I use a lot in my workshops and seminars. In fact, I say it so much you would think I’d have some type of ownership deal on a trademark to plaster it all over coffee mugs, t-shirts – and mouth guards for compulsive talkers.

Always leave them wanting more.

This is great advice when enhancing your conversations with humor. And in case you’ve missed any of my past articles, a dose of relationship-building humor is a great way to grab your listener’s attention and help them remember you AND your message.

You never want to overstay your welcome.

Wait a minute… that sounds like another old saying. And that one is pertinent to both business communications and family reunions. But when it comes to leadership, networking and team building in the business world, business comes first. I doubt anyone would be thrilled about taking orders from the office jokester who delivers continuous one-liners in the break room all afternoon. But a good leader will focus on what needs to be accomplished and the most productive way to get it done.

A happy worker is a productive worker.

Wish I could also claim a trademark on that saying, but it’s already popular in the business world because it’s true. An article with that title by Marilyn Tam in The Huffington Post states:

When people aren’t happy with their jobs or their employers, they don’t show up consistently, they produce less and their work quality suffers.

In one of my past articles I wrote about Southwest Airlines and employee training that includes a happiness factor for both team building and customer service. In the stress-filled travel business kindness and a smile are the first line of defense when dealing with uncomfortable situations. If you’ve ever been delayed for a few hours in an airport or stuck on a runway you know what type of situations can arise when nerves and tempers are on edge. The second line of defense is to call security. I’m sure we’d all agree the happiness factor is the better option.

Guy mouth covering

Leave’em wanting more!

It’s the same with your business relationships. Humor is a better option than a temper tantrum – and can increase productivity. But what does that have to do with our opening old saying? It goes back to not following (respecting?) leadership from the never ending and non-productive office jokester.

Don’t overdo a good thing.

That’s another old saying we’d expect to hear more from a doctor than a comedy coach, but I’ll jump on the bandwagon and also tout its benefits here. Humor will always be an attention-grabber, but when used sparingly it can be more effective. Again, you don’t want to overdo the laugh factor – just like you don’t want to be the happiness factor killjoy that would inspire your co-workers to double up on sick days when you’re in charge.

Here’s a quick story…

You’ve heard that one before – correct? And then the storyteller bores you with a long-winded dissertation on… well, a boring topic. I’ll keep it quick.

I use techniques from my comedy workshops in my business communications seminars. In both cases I emphasize leaving the audience wanting more. In other words, grab your listeners’ attention by keeping them entertained just long enough to hear and remember your message. In comedian terms, it would be a punchline. In business terms it would be business.

I was coaching a young stand-up comedian to write and perform a very funny five minute routine. After three weeks he was prepared and ready for a live audience at The Cleveland Improv comedy club. He was introduced, walked on stage and very quickly had the crowd laughing.

hand-over-mouth

Never overstay your welcome!

But instead of sticking to our game plan of leaving the audience wanting more, he finished his practiced five minutes and morphed into the jokester you’d normally avoid at the office water cooler. The best description is to say he became flushed with success by the laughter and overstayed his welcome. Old jokes, tired one-liners and random thoughts silenced the audience to the point they had forgotten how funny he had been during his first five minutes. Finally he saw my frantic arm waves from the back of the room to leave the stage.

He walked up to me after and asked, “How’d I do?

Great,” I answered, “for the first five minutes. Too bad you did thirteen.”

For his business it was a bad move. He’s never played that club since. In the business world the same lesson applies. Humor can enhance your conversations and raise the happiness factor. But it should never distract from a leader’s message – the game plan. Don’t get carried away and become the office jokester or the audience (employees or co-workers) might stop following (respecting?) your conversation. And when that happens, the silence – in business terms, productivity and attendance – can be deafening.

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Comment? Please use the form below. In the meantime, thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!

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Click on the banner to sign up for Dave’s free newsletter!

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Dave Schwensen is a nationally recognized comedy coach and author of six books including How To Be A Working Comic. He has designed and instructs university courses in communications and presentation skills. Dave is a keynote speaker and training seminar leader (for your next event!) and CILC Pinnacle Award Winner for video conferences on communication skills, comedy and pop culture.

For Dave’s author page on Amazon.com CLICK HERE.

For information about scheduling Dave’s training seminar or interactive keynote for your next event, or for any comments please use the contact form below or send an email to dave@davepresents.com

Copyright 2016 – North Shore Publishing