It occurred to me tonight after I attended a local industry, social (I assumed networking) type event that people need to improve their networking skills. I belong to numerous networking associations and try to learn as much as I can about everyone I come into contact with. That's what I'm there for...right? I mean I can huddle with my friends (and I have many) and we could gossip about this and that, but truly my time is valuable...this is my opportunity to expand my horizons. I love networking environments and I thrive well because as an entertainer, I always find it easy to facilitate discussions and get the ball rolling.

Tonight a scene played out again where I stood in a small group of very interesting people and I asked each one of them questions about their business. Strangely, I noticed not one person asked me who I was or what I did.

Mostly, I have positive experiences- but this isn't the first time this has happened. I recently attended a fabulous networking luncheon at a well-known Atlanta hotel, where 4 of the hotel's employees (the GM, an F&B Mgr, a Catering/Sales Mgr and the front desk clerk) sat at my table, monopolizing my opportunities to meet people from other industries. There again, I made a point to really ask some stimulating questions to each one of the guests at my table and after the 2 hour event, I walked away stunned that not one of them asked me my name, what I did or found out anything about me.

I'm actually pretty darn interesting, engaging and I bring a lot to the table.
Perhaps I should have pushed my agenda, spoke up and announced what I did for a living, but I would have really appreciated some genuine interest and reciprocation.

Just wondered what you think about this phenomenon?

Jeni Michelson

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Comment by Jeni Michelson on March 17, 2008 at 6:24pm
Yes, it's truly a mystery. And it happens more often than not. On many occasions a vendor has brought their spouse, or parent or a friend...and that's really nice because we do like to meet these folks, but for one hour...everyone should split up and get those cards moving and get those tables shakin :-)

There is also something to be said for the art of the sincere compliment as a fabulous networking tool. Find something to be interested in, take notice, listen carefully
then contribute by finding something nice to say, or encourage your potential networking buddy, or share a good tip. This all goes such a long way to producing long lasting friendships.
Comment by Richard Lowder on March 17, 2008 at 4:23pm
What a poor use of the hotel's staff. They should all have been as separate tables so they could promote their hotel and meet a wide variety of attendees. Instead they blew their opportunity to network, not only by not finding anything out about you, but in not maximizing their own marketing. That would be like you taking your band to a networking lunch and you all sit at the same table and network with each other. Won't get much business that way.
Comment by Stephanie on February 20, 2008 at 8:55pm
HEY JENNI...I agree with your brother. I even thought of the book as I read your post! It's SIMPLE....people are self-centered by nature and therefore LOVE to talk about none other than....themselves. I must say though that in the now 7ish years that I've known you and seen you here and there around the city you always remember me as well as school, travel, my weight losses (haha), etc. I believe that your genuine interest in people is a truly incredible asset!! As your brother said...keep it up! The people at this networking event may not have found anything out about you or what you do but I guarantee you that when you run into them at the next one when THEY are surrounded by other ego-centrics...talking ONLY about themselves, they will be dying for the reprieve of your company...and maybe then YOU will have the opportunity to shine!! ; )

Non-Operator
Comment by Mark Michelson on February 5, 2008 at 11:05am
The way to make friends and influence people, according to Norman Vincent Peale (and our mom), is to show an interest in others. No wonder you have so many friends - because you show a genuine interest in them. People don't always return the favor and ask about you because either they are 1) pushing their own agenda, 2) aren't that good at networking, 3) don't really care about others 4) are too self-centered or shy or self-conscious. we know an ex-friend of mine who could only talk about himself - now he doesn't have any friends and he wonders why. Just keep doing what you do, and share your accomplishments with your true friends and family.

Mark

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