Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Art of Quality Networking - 7 steps to connect with quality people in any industry.

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It's very hard to get quality networking, especially in Corporate Malaysia. One of the main reasons is because we take ourselves too seriously, think too narrowly and inability to communicate well. But of course, if you're not any of those things, then you should have no problem networking. Recently, I was invited to attend an SME seminar organised by CIMB Bank at Sheraton Imperial. Noticed that I managed to receive many quality contacts, ie:business cards from bosses of a law firm, audit firm and other companies in various industries. The theme of the seminar is about Feng Shui. Apparently now, the bank is targetting at the Chinese market small medium business segment. The invitation is quite appealing, given the location and the promise of luncheon. Of course now I am on a strict diet, I cannot binge too much on the food, hehe. Below are some tips for aspiring artistes who wants to learn to network well:

A string of cards I received
1. Have an attractive business card
Being pretty or attractive is not good enough. It's not how sharp you dress. It's not how good-looking you are in person. It's not even how you carry yourself in public. Seriously, in Malaysia, the rules are different. I notice people don't even take a second look at some of the sharp and well-dressed men and women during the luncheon. So what's the most important thing you must have? An attractive business card that speaks who you are. As for me, it's simple. Given that I have an artiste background, my business card directly portrays who I am. An attractive business card will subconsciously give you the extra confidence.

2. Be selective in approaching people
In a crowd, one must be aware of the thrash from the jewels. Of course, sometimes, you have to throw the ball first and see if it bounces back. Unfortunately, there's more thrash than jewels at the luncheon I attended. You have to be selective in approaching people, because some are simply not good at communicating or not interested in networking at all. Mostly they lack the skills to interact with people, so you must avoid such crowd for the sake of conserving your energy. There are other people around. If he/she responds awkwardly at your gesture, quietly move on to the next person. Thrash is contagious.

Some artwork with feng shui theme
3. Have an open body and facial expression
This technique works well for a seasoned actor. For those who doesn't know what acting is about, you may have a problem applying this step. You should take my Artiste Training Course, because this technique pushes you to total body and mind relaxation. But it does not mean you stay still, but rather you concentrate your energy at your best reflexes and moment. Your whole body and facial expression outwardly, gives you a warm aura that attracts only quality people during networking.

The seminar talk started with the slide of a fiery dragon

4. Maintain casual topic of conversation
Some people approached me during the luncheon, and immediately they launched onto their sales pitch to me. "My company offers this and this service, and you'll benefit greatly from us" Wrong start. At first meeting, one should always start with a general topic of conversation. The best point to start off is the theme of the seminar. This is because when you have a general point, everyone can contribute into the topic. You also won't offend others who may not be there solely for your business proposition.

Dessert section - love the green cheese cake on top
5. Balance your Food Intake/Words Outtake
During the luncheon, I cannot help but notice so many delicious food being served at the buffet table. One tends to forget the purpose of the luncheon, (and many do) and went walloping the food without a care. Here's when the true artiste should shine - balancing the act of eating and carrying on a casual conversation with your networking partner. You simply cannot eat and talk at the same time! You need to be able to steer the pull of the topic to another direction so you can take a bite of your food, without appearing to act like a glutton. Yes, we are all there to eat too. But the art of appearing not too over eager about the food is just as subtle and important for a quality networking artiste.

6. Connect by Completing Tasks with Others
During the seminar, I had a wonderful learning about the numerology in feng shui. Apparently, all the numbers on my birthdate determines the person I am, and how my future would be. I was given a paper with notes, and I started to calculate all the numbers into a chart format. It gets a bit complicated at times, and I usually involve my networking partner into solving the charts. This is the best and most fulfilling part of the whole networking event, because it brings in teamwork and a sense of purpose where you and your partner can help each other out. I pointed out a mistake my partner made when calculating his birthdate chart. The sign hypen on the chart is not a minus. And remember to be gentle when correcting your networking partner's mistake, you wouldn't want to hurt his feelings. The one who made the mistake is an auditor, but I did it in a way that promotes teamwork, NOT showing off that "I am better than you".

7. Smile and give a genuine but firm farewell
After the seminar, you must remember to smile and give your fellow networking partners a genuine expression of leaving. The truth is, we don't know where or when we might bump into each other again. Forget about those "thrash" you unintentionally met along the way. Pull yourself together and show an expression of honesty that says I'm glad to have known you here, but hopefully we'll meet again someday. You don't have to say the words, but the expression you've shown is what truly matters and captures the heart. That's why as an actor, I have so many networking skills at my disposal, simply because it translates into the  actual world of business too. Below are the links to my past SUCCESS stories in helping shape my students of all diverse backgrounds and industries:
Full Attendance
Fashion Students Showcase
Bigger Class
Taking Students on Roadshows
International Students
Student on Magazine Cover
Student Casting Session for Real Jobs
Students Photo Shoot
Students Performing for Event

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