Marsha Shandur | Saying Yes to Networking (Episode 359)

As Marsha Shandur (@yesyesmarsha) knows, networking can be fun. Here’s where she shows you how.

“Networking is a long-term relationship, not a one-night stand.” -Marsha Shandur

The Cheat Sheet:

  • Is everyone afraid of networking events?
  • The top two ways to add value to someone no matter who they are.
  • What’s the spotlight effect?
  • What does Helen Fielding have to teach us about networking?
  • What is Marsha’s “secret sentence” she uses to get a response from people?
  • And so much more…

Do you like networking, or is it just a necessary evil only to be done when you have no other options? Whether you like it, hate it, or think you’re terrible at it, our guest for today’s show will have advice, suggestions, and tools you can put to good use immediately.

Marsha Shandur is a networking expert and coach who helps people enjoy — and become very good at — networking. On today’s episode we talk about why networking can be — and really is — fun when you approach it the right away. We also discuss how to get over your fear of striking up conversations at events, how to properly follow up after an event for maximum impact, and how to create long-lasting connections that become solid relationships over time. All of this and much more on episode 359 of The Art of Charm.

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If you asked a room of 300 people to close their eyes and raise their hands if they dislike networking, about 255 people would raise their hands. At least that’s what our guest for episode 359 says! Marsha Shandur has done this exercise with crowds, and that’s what she has discovered: almost everyone hates networking.

She’s here today to help us overcome that hatred, address our fear of approaching new people at events, and find the best ways to connect and become friends with the people we meet at networking events. Because that’s her job, Marsha and I have plenty of informative topics and points we share.

The first topic we address is the biggie: what to do if you’re afraid or hesitant to attend an event. Marsha has a number of suggestions for dealing with this very common fear. First and foremost, understand that most people share your fear, so don’t beat yourself up over it. Instead, give yourself a specific goal or a specific “out” for the evening. Promise yourself you’ll attend the event for two hours, and if you aren’t enjoying yourself after those two hours, then you can leave. Or make it your goal to talk with four new people that night, and when you’re done with those four conversations, you can go home.

Now that you’ve established your intention for the event, the second thing you can do is to ask yourself this one question when you walk into the event:”Who here would I be friends with?” When you find those people, strike up a conversation and connect with them because networking and networking events are about making friends and creating fun and productive connections.

If the idea of initiating conversations with a stranger (or strangers) strikes fear into your heart, there is good news and bad news according to Marsha. She says the good news is that nearly everyone else is afraid of talking to people they don’t know. The bad news? You’re probably always going to be afraid to take that first step. Marsha says to take it anyway. When you make that initial connection, the person you talk with will most likely be so grateful you did (because of their own fears) that they will remember you. You’ll leave an impression.

Another great way to make a positive impact on the people you meet is to ask questions. These aren’t the usual “what do you do?” questions that most people ask while waiting for you to finish so they can talk about and pitch themselves. These are questions Marsha recommends to create connection and build rapport.

A specific example she gives is to ask people how their week has been or, if it’s a Monday or Tuesday, ask how their weekend went. Odds are good that you’ll hear something in their answer that clues you in to who they are, what they do, and/or what they love. And when you hear them talk about what they love, ask more questions. When people talk about their passions, they feel good. When you’re the one asking about their passions, you’re the one making them feel good. They’ll remember you for that feeling you gave them.

We also talk about how to follow up with people after the event (and how this same technique works to connect with anyone through email), and how to get out of an awkward conversation with grace and aplomb, and tons more. This is a dandy of a conversation; listen in and you’ll walk away with an arsenal of networking knowledge courtesy of Marsha.

A big thank you to Marsha for being here and sharing so generously; check out the resources for a link to email templates that include her “secret sentence” that will get anyone to do what you ask them to do! Special thanks to all of you for listening, as always. We’ll see you next time on The Art of Charm.

THANKS, MARSHA SHANDUR!

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AJ Harbinger - author of 1050 posts on The Art of Charm

AJ Harbinger is one of the world’s top relationship development experts. His company, The Art of Charm, is a leading training facility for top performers that want to overcome social anxiety, develop social capital and build relationships of the highest quality. Raised by a single father, AJ felt a strong desire to learn about relationships and the elements that make them successful. However, this interest went largely untapped for many years. Following the path set out for him by his family, AJ studied biology in college and went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at the University of Michigan. It was at this time that he began to feel immense pressure from the cancer lab he worked in and began to explore other outlets for expression. It was at this point that The Art of Charm Podcast was born.

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