It's a cheer my sister Bridge used to do when she was a Tiger cheerleader a million years ago.
That same cheer was running through my head last night as I attended a seminar on networking.
Last night the Junior League offered a training session for its provisional and active members. The goal of the meeting was to arm us with skills we could use next time we had to bombard some unsuspecting merchant or philanthropist for goods or donations we could use for the betterment of others.
What, did you think we'd forgo our raffles and instead keep all those gift certificates and diamond tennis bracelets and mink coats that people turn over in the name of charity? Bah!
The seminar was perhaps the best one I've attended thus far. Diane Darling is an expert in networking and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe and on NBC Nightly News. She broke down a slew of techniques that could be used by anyone trying to make new connections, whether they be for professional or personal use.
Since I'm such a good friend, I thought I'd pass on a few to you.
Come prepared with three neutral questions. Where are you from? What do you do? Tell me how you're connected to Group X? Think of three questions you can use to find common interests or links to the person with whom you're speaking.
Keep your drink in your left hand. Otherwise it will make your right hand feel cold, wet and clammy at the most inopportune time - when you need to shake hands! There is a loophole to this one though: if you're the sweaty hand nervous type, keep your drink in your right hand. Then you can blame your wet hand on your drink.
Save the best for last, at least where your name is concerned. Darling calls it a dyslexic introduction. Basically, you should set up your name with who you are when meeting someone - "Hi, I have a blog about the trials of being a single chick and my name is Kate the Great." This technique leaves your name last, making it the last thing the listener will focus on.
Also buried in that sentence: a little flag that gives the listener a heads up Hey, a name is coming! Remember the name! Pay attention to the name! That little flag is the gem of a phrase "...my name is..." Surprisingly, that phrase is more effective than the beloved "I'm so-and-so."
If the person can remember your name, it will be easier for you to make a connection.
Hopefully all these little nuggets will help me be a little bit more aggressive when meeting strangers. Now if only I could find a pair of pom poms...
Diane Darling runs down a slew of networking tips in her book, aptly titled The Networking Survival Guide: Getting the Success You Want by Tapping into the People You Know