Expert reviews of relevant career, college, and job audio products from the staff of Quintessential Careers
From time-to-time, as we receive career-related and job-hunting audio products from publishers, the staff of Quintessential Careers will review them to help you make better decisions about the best products to use in your career and job search.
Connect with People: It’s the Little Things, Kathy Condon, two-tape set of audiotapes, $25 or two-CD set of CDs, $30.
Reviewed by Katharine Hansen
It’s nice to have good “how-to” information in audio form so you can listen to it and gain knowledge while engaged in an activity, such as driving, where it’s impossible to read. That’s what career facilitator Kathy Condon of Vancouver, WA, has provided with her audio program, “Connect with People: It’s the Little Things,” which covers many of the basics of networking and is available in audiotape or CD format.
Condon asserts that no difference exists between networking socially and networking for career or business reasons. Her audio presentation, she explains, evolved from a community-college class in which she faced a new challenge each semester in convincing her students that networking is for everyone and works in virtually all situations. Networking is, after all, about building relationships, she says, and everyone can do that.
Condon’s voice is not exactly one that was born for audio presentations, but at the same time, her folksy twang makes her presentation conversational and accessible; she doesn’t sound as though she’s reading from a script. The two-hour audio session contains lots of excellent nuggets about networking — indeed, the “little things” that even practiced networkers may not have thought of:
- It’s impossible to become good at networking unless you read the newspaper. From tiny blurbs in the local paper’s business section to large display ads listing major networking events, newspapers provide a wealth of information about where to go to build relationships. The Sunday paper is particularly indispensable, Condon says (although in the Orlando area, where I live, the Monday business section is the best source for networking events).
- Would-be networkers should seek out events that are fun. Condon favors service clubs, such as the Lions, Kiwanis, and Rotary because these organizations always provide a program offering information you can’t get elsewhere. Of course there are groups for the explicit purpose of networking, but Condon also suggests children’s sports events, Toastmasters, and the local Chamber of Commerce.
- A “contact card” is a must, Condon says, referring to a card that’s like a business card but not called a business card since not everyone is associated with a business or holds a job. Condon advises everyone from a 14-year-old babysitter on up to have a supply of contact cards.
- Always RSVP when you are invited to an event where networking might take place. Organizations keep lists of those who have made reservations, and the group’s honchos will get to know you if you RSVP (plus, it’s just good manners).
- At networking events, wear attire that will make you feel comfortable and confident.
- Don’t try to meet too many people at an event, Condon advises. If you limit yourself to three people, you’ll really learn about the people while also making a more lasting impression than if you were trying to meet as many people as possible in the time allotted.
- It’s better when you have the opportunity to create your own name-tag because pre-made tags tend to contain too much information in type that is too small to be read at a glance. If you make your own, you can write your name (first name only, Condon advises) in large, easily seen letters. Place the tag on your right side so it will catch the eye as you are shaking hands with your contacts.
- To approach people at a networking event, veer toward the right side of the room. Go up to someone standing alone because that person probably feels awkward and will welcome your attempt to reach out.
- Always extend your hand for a handshake with every new person you meet. Doing so makes the people with whom you shake hands feel important. (Credit goes to Condon for effectively teaching handshaking in an medium — audio — where thelistener has no visual aids to refer to.) Condon also suggests standing up to shake hands if someone extends a hand to you and you are initially sitting, as well as standing up when you are introduced.
- Condon’s secret-weapon icebreaker question for when you meet someone new is “What great thing happened to your recently?” While it may seem like an odd question, it works well because it forces your contact to think positively, feel good about himself or herself, and most likely break into a smile.
- Other effective icebreaker questions include: For women: “Is there a story behind that [pin, brooch, bracelet, necklace, or other piece of jewelry]?” For men: “Is there a story behind that tie?” It’s also nice to compliment attire by saying something like “What a great color for you!”
- The trick for breaking away from a conversation with one contact so you can move onto the next one is to again extend your hand, and say, “It was great to meet you; may I have your card?” Later, Condon suggests, write notes about each contact on the back of that person’s card so you’ll readily remember them.
The transitions from one topic to the next are not always clear in Condon’s presentation, but the 10 sections of the presentation are:
- Finding Networking Events
- Steps to Take at an Event
- You are at the Event
- Shaking Hands
- Conversation Openers
- Breaking Away
- Follow Up
- Keeping Records
Condon overuses a few pet expressions (“You know what?” “Without a shadow of a doubt,” and “What happens is…”), but the value of the information she imparts far outweighs any repetitiveness. Her tips and insights, presented in a refreshing manner, will get anyone started in effective networking.
Note: Read our Q&A with Condon, part of our Q&A with Career & College Experts section of Quintessential Careers.
Check out all our audio reviews in Quintessential Listening.
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