Networking: Small Talk or Worthless Talk?

Article by: Katy Goshtasbi

 

Picture it: you walk into a huge room of people you don’t know. Everyone is in a blue or black suit. Everyone seems to know each other, except for you. You muster up the nerve to walk up to someone. “So it’s really cold outside today”, you say, in an attempt to strike up a conversation.

Sound familiar? Most people just don’t like the idea of networking. They equate it to dragging yourself to an event, going into a room full of people you don’t know and having to figure out how to get business from them.

Just about the only thing worse for people than all the above actions, is the dreaded conversation that comes with networking. I was talking to a client the other day and she called this casual small-talk, “worthless”. I was really surprised to hear her call it worthless, especially given she is CEO of a nonprofit that does so much good in communities. She’s all about helping people. So I knew it had nothing to do for her with being kind to people or not.

So I stopped to think, is it really worthless, this small-talk we have with people in networking events? If so, why? If not, then how can we re-classify it for ourselves so we can enjoy the process more.

For my client, the thought of worthless talk is so negative, she does not even show up at the networking events. That makes me really sad for her, knowing that she may be missing out on a golden opportunity and that others may be missing out on her.

I appreciate that we all act and react differently in these types of settings. It’s often been said how we act has to do with our nature. As Susan Cain masterfully writes in her book, “Quiet”, extroverts get energy from being in a room full of others.

I am your typical extrovert and I find myself in the minority regularly. I am the oddball that really enjoys walking into a room full of strangers. I love trying to get to know new people and learn about them and teach them, if I can. Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of moments when I, as the extrovert who loves getting to know strangers, don’t want to be around groups of people. I would rather be home alone snuggling on my couch with my dog. So I can imagine how bad it is for introverts.

 

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katypurispersonalbranding-com

I moved to this country with my family in 1979 from Iran. We came with two suitcases thinking we’d stay for two weeks. We stayed a lifetime. I went to law school because I wanted to help humanity AND because I felt that if I was a lawyer, then I would fit in and be accepted and respected. I practiced for 15 years as a successful securities lawyer. One day I realized I was wealthy, miserable and no longer helping humanity. I quit my job as a lawyer within a month. As a spiritually-minded business person, I started to listen to the Universe and my intuition. Through a series of miracles, I ended up finding my natural talents and gifts, which are the ability to realize and evolve peoples’ assets very clearly. During the first two years of my “retirement” as a lawyer, I saw an ad in a community college catalog that read, “What do Oprah, Bill Gates & Warren Buffet Have in Common?” The answer was said to be that they were all practicing their natural talents. So I went to the workshop and learned excitedly and incredulously that my natural talent is in personal brand management for others. From this workshop, my horizons opened and I devised a number of programs highlighting others’ talents and abilities, wrapping it in a “personal brand” package. Initially, I had no idea how these gifts would work in coming together; but for the past seven years I have been running a personal brand management company. We work with individuals and companies to unearth their uniqueness, communicate this to their target audience, and then manage all perceptions. The mission of my company: While appreciating the oneness of humanity, my goal is to highlight for others their specific talents and abilities in order to bring greater joy and success to all areas of their lives. This is how I do my part to cultivate a world of love and kindness where I promise through my example that no one is forgotten and everyone is appreciated. Personal brand management is based on defining and understanding your uniqueness, communicating it effectively to your target market and managing the perception of your personal brand. Your personal brand comes first. It is about you and NOT your business logo or marketing materials or PR. YOU must have a personal brand before you: a) can have marketing material and b) are press worthy. An effective personal brand starts with the understanding of who you are as a business owner and an individual. Without this solid foundation of a sense of self, it is not possible to build an effective personal brand that then translates into effective business branding. Throughout my career and life, I have been blessed with an eye for the creative process around building a successful personal brand. I finally stopped and listened to all the people who kept asking me for help in making their personal brand and business a success. Most of these people were lawyers trying to figure out how to stand out as attorneys in society. I was enlightened by the concept of following my natural talent. I wanted to help other businesses have an effective personal brand and thus, increase revenues, productivity, morale and sales. For fifteen years, I worked as an attorney in multiple areas of corporate America. For over eight years I practiced in Washington DC: the Securities & Exchange Commission, lobbying on Capitol Hill, and working in a law firm. I then moved to California working as in-house corporate counsel and then consulting via my own business. I hold undergraduate degrees in Finance, Accounting and Economics and a law degree. My clientele include numerous law firms , corporations, law schools, specialty institutions, retail corporations, CPA firms, engineering firms, financial services firms, dental professionals, medical professionals, as well as many smaller businesses. I am an author and public speaker on personal branding, leadership, marketing and business development. I have been appointed to serve on the ABAs Law Practice Management (LPM) Division Webzine, Nominating Committee and Women Rainmaker Boards. I have contributed numerous articles to the ABA and been a frequent speaker at various ABA conferences. I believe in being active and giving back to our community as part of your personal brand and mainly because it is good Karma! I am on the national board of directors of The Women Of Color In the Law. I also serve on the San Diego board of directors of National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO).

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