Archive for category Personal Development

Is Reaching Success More About WHAT You Know or WHO You Know?

From the title itself, you can tell reaching success has to be one way or the other linked to the verb “to know” whether it means acquiring and having the knowledge or being connected to a person of influence. When I decided launching my company at Act2be.com in helping people and organizations find the Expert they need in sales, management, leadership, fitness and relationships in the US,  in France, and in Africa, one of the first actions I did take was to check what I knew about the targeted market, about the industry, and about the competition. At my very first business approach, the discussion was 90% about who do you know that I need to know and 20% about what is that I want to offer.

Last week-end I had a business meeting at my house with a person of influence in one of the main beverage company in Cameroon (Africa) and I introduced my business and we talked about how to serve that company business interests. Again, the discussion turned around who will give credit to  my service.

When I was Organizational Leader few years ago at the Southwestern Company, the main focus when prospecting, approaching, and signing up people was in getting names. With names it was lot easier to get other names, to sign up more deals, and to make more money.

Yesterday, I was having a phone conversation with a long-time friend of mine that I haven’t heard from since college. He works as account executive for a bank in Paris (France) today and when I asked him how he made it there he said at the job interview there were five other applicants with pretty much the same background but none of the others had an inside connection.

All those to say that, I believe education and knowledge is accessible to all. Whatever you do, whatever business you come up with today, someone else can reproduce it beat you on your market. But what can keep you on a safe seat and take you to success at whatever you can do or don’t know what to do but can learn how to do, is the level of influence people you know and the strength of the relationships you built with those people.

Is knowledge power? I personally don’t think so. I think relationship is power. What do you think?

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5 Ways To Get Someone Who Doesn’t Know You To feel Comfortable Talking

You have about ten seconds before a person decides, subconsciously, whether they like you or not. Also, the image or impression someone has of you the first time the person meets you will last the next seven time the person will come to meet you. All that to show how important and delicate it can be to start and connect with a new contact. Whether you are in business, journalism, politics, or unemployed, it comes a time you need to solicit the service of attention of someone. It might be at a conference, at a meeting, during a plane trip, on the street…And yet, the person you are trying to talk to does not feel comfortable talking. What a pretty uncomfortable and awkward situation, isn’t it? There can be plenty of reasons why a person will not feel comfortable talking to you. Some reasons might be directly linked to you and some not. And of course, at the end of the day, if someone doesn’t want to talk to you, so what? Isn’t the world full of people to talk to? Yet, even if that last assertion is true, we can neglect or hide the shame we feel inside of us when addressing to someone, the person doesn’t feel comfortable to reply. To help you clear that issue forever, here are some tips that I’ve learned from the Relationship development expert Ketith Ferrazzi. Keith Ferrazzi is known as the youngest executive from a Fortune 500 company and he is also known as one of the most connected business man and entrepreneur in the US. Visit Keith Ferrazzi expert page at Act2be.com

How Do You Get Someone Who Doesn’t Know You To feel Comfortable Talking?

  1. First of all, share with the person a hearty smile. You probably read me on another post and I was pointing the importance of the smile. Smiling is such a relationship key when it comes to have a healthy connection with someone. By smiling, you send that message: “I’m approachable.”
  2. Have a good eye contact. Your eye contact must be balanced. Do not stand there starring at the person with your eyes wide opened as if he was coming from Mars, the person will be scared. Instead, keep an about 80% eye contact. An eye contact less than 70% of the time may make the person believes that you are not that much interested and have something else to do. A 100% of the time, again, will be a little bit scary for the person. The balance will at about 80% of the time to keep the eye contact.
  3. Look relax. So many times you will see people talking to someone else with arms crossed. To make the other person feel comfortable talking, you need to unfold your arms and look relax. Remember people tend to react according to your body language.
  4. Watch out for the distance between you and the person. Make sure you do not invade the other person’s space. When you do so, the person feel unsecured and uncomfortable and then the person will tend to step back to regain his distance. When respecting the distance between the two of you and showing engagement and interest by nodding your head and leaning in, the person will be more opened to keep up with you.
  5. Master your act of touching. Touching is such a powerful act. In Africa, shaking someone hand with your two hands is a tremendous sign of respect. Many people show that their intentions are friendly by shaking hands. If you are coming from a distance give a wave and a smile as you approach the person before shaking the hands.

Because relationship matters, everything has to be done to continuously empower them and the extra effort starts right at the beginning when getting the person you don’t know yet to feel comfortable talking.

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Tips and Topics on Starting a Conversation And Establish Report With Any New Contact or Prospect

Don't know what to say?

Charlie Cook said it right: whether you are in the elevator or on the phone, the way you start the conversation will determine whether or not it will continue. So many times we face the uncomfortable situation of meeting with a recently established contact and we just don’t know what to say. In fact, opening a conversation requires a set of skills if you want to leave an everlasting impression that will make the other one eager to come to you every time he/she  will meet you.

Tips to excel in starting a conversation and in establishing report with any  newly established contact or prospect:
  • Start with a joke/humor – By making humors, you show that you are open-minded, you have a positive attitude, that you do not feel depressed, and very important, you send the message that the person will feel great around you and will have fun. Yet, of course, because of the cultural differences, you might want to choose carefully what jokes to give. For having traveled and lived around lot of different cultures, I found out that what is funny for Africans might not be that funny for Europeans; and what is funny for Europeans might not be funny for Americans. Also, avoid any racial or other social jokes.  Do not make fun of your new contact unless you feel like he won’t take it against you. Good jokes to get started are when you make fun of you.
  • Give a sincere praise – People love to be flattered. People love it when you show respect to their self-esteem. People love it when you show that you care.
    About two weeks ago, I was having diner with two friends of mine over in Baltimore, MD at a Greek restaurant.  As we were waiting to be seated, I noticed the very expensive watch the restaurant owner was wearing and as soon as I got the opportunity, I told him how much I love the design and style of his watch and asked him where he got it from. He loved that attention and praise and during the whole 1 hour diner time we had with my friends, we had the best service and the best attention in return from the restaurant. As we were leaving, the restaurant owner came for special thanks and asked for what we do for leaving. There was a new connection starting.
  • Make a considerable remark/meaningful greetings – So many times we come to greet people by just pressing on the play button of our recorded mindset that do not reflect how we actually are or feel at the moment. People will ask you: “HOW ARE YOU?” and you’ll go: “FINE THANKS! ” even if you feel horrible. Making a considerable remark means observing the person and giving the person a feedback of how he reflects to feel like: “you look like you are going to a company meeting”, “You look like you just got a job promotion”. That kind of greeting will definitely invite or push the person to tell what is really going on at the moment: “Oh yeah! I have so much going on right now!”, “Oh it’s not work related, it’s my wife who made a wonderful surprise.”
  • Do the happy face – Don’t walk with a pity face on you and expect to have people willing to talk with you, be smiling. Smile and enthusiasm opens doors and are contagious. People love that and love to be surrounded of that kind of people.
  • Have a respectable body language and position – Whether you are making a joke, giving a meaningful greeting or a praise, the way you position yourself, wherever you are, and your body language, tell a lot about how educated you are and therefore can help the person to engaged in a conversation with you.

Now let’s talk a bout the topics to talk about with anyone. When your relationship to someone is not yet secured and you can’t afford just talking about everything by fear of hurting the person or by fear of saying something that will be taken against you, you have to watch out about what topics to pick up when starting a conversation and breaking the ice. This selection of topics I am getting ready to give you are petty helpful for situations where you are invited to a dinner or any other social event and you know no one or barely know them. Also, when you invite someone at your place or at a diner but you have no strong relationship with the person.

WARNING!!!! This is  not supposed to be an interview. So as you surf and pick up the topics, make sure it looks more like a conversation that all the parties enjoy having and that give the opportunity to everyone to share his own story.

Topics on starting a conversation and establish report with any newly established contact:

  • Are you from here originally? / How long have you been working for that company? –  As you are establishing report with someone, you want to make sure you first show genuine interest to the person by getting to know where the person comes from. In general, people would start telling you everything about the places the lived in before moving where they live now.
  • What social activity interest you the most? – The point behind this question is to see what you have in common with the person. The more you have in common, the stronger will be your relationships to the person, and the more the two of you will be willing to do things together.
  • Do you play any sport? / Do you you follow up with sport? Which team you go for? – Men are usually the best gender to ask that kind of question to.
  • Where is the best place to go and eat here? / What are the different types of foods you ever tried?
  • Did you watch that movie???
  • Where is the best place you ever had to visit?
  • If you feel like the connection on the right track you can go the extra-mile and start topics such as who is the person who influenced you the most, or what is that you like about your job, or what would be your dream job.

Again, just like Charlie Cook said: whether you are in the elevator or on the phone, at the office or at a party, the way you start the conversation will determine whether or not it will continue. A well started conversation can open doors to a lifelong relationship.

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