Experimenting

Have you Considered Networking? 3 Assumptions We Make About Networking

“Have you considering Networking?” How many of you made the same face my clients or others make when I ask them this question?

Networking Noa Ronen Coaching

 I know, I know, there are rare people, somewhat like the lions in the savannah that when I ask the Networking question their answer will be: “I love Networking, bring it on!” with a spark in their eyes. Yes, there are a few of those, but many people do not enjoy networking.

 In this article, I would like to invite you to consider a new way of approaching Networking. A new intention if I can suggest.

A few weeks ago one of my clients burst into a long monologue about how much they hate Networking. I get it. Believe me, I do.

 
Selling Me vs. Meeting People

I am pretty good with one on one conversations, but when I had to enter a big room full with strange people, I could sense how uncomfortable I was. Still, in that gap between my car/a train and a big event, I can sense how my body is closing on me. When I started my coaching business I remember telling others that there is a big distinction between selling a product you believe in and selling yourself to others. By the way, it is the same experience when you are trying to share a vision you care about or letting people know you are looking for a job.

You see, entering a room with that mindset and the assumption that what you do is selling can put you at unrest. But with time I learned that when I go into a networking event, it is not about selling me, it is about meeting people and learn about them. Now if you are a giver, who focus on being always for the other, hold on and please pay attention; I didn’t mean that your job is to come into a room with the intention to allow everyone else to talk and for you to cheer them up and ask yourself how you can help them, you are there to introduce yourself like anyone else. But rather than coming in an intention of selling conversation, come with the intention to connect. Focus on meeting cool people.

I am better with one on one conversations
Exactly! I am better with one on one conversations too. And this is your goal.
When you enter a networking event, your intention should be on how you find cool people who trigger your curiosity. People that when you talk with them, you enjoy the conversation and would love to keep the dialogue in a week or two. There are many reasons why the two of you would like to meet with each other for a one on one meeting. It might be that this is the third event you see each other and it is time to meet, or it might be that you have areas of focus that complete each other, or you see a potential of referring to each other, or they might work/ed in a company that you are trying to apply for a job opportunity. You see, the focus is NOT about selling yourself, it is about meeting exciting people and creating opportunities for you (and them) to meet with each other for a more in-depth conversation and develop relationships.

 
But if I I intend to create relationships, how can I sell my service or product or my need for a job?

Before I answer this question, let me ask you another question (this is what coaches do very well). When you come to a networking event or one on one meeting and the person who you are meeting with is talking about themselves for a big portion of the meeting. If you are at a big event, you can sense that while they are talking with you they are browsing with their eyes for other potential opportunities and focus more on their exchanging business cards rather than who you are and what are your needs. How that person made you feel?

When I ask this questions in a big room, I always get the same answers:

  • I feel unheard and invisible.

  • I think that they are using me to get what they want, but they don’t care about me.

  • They only care about their pitch they don’t care about people.

You see? In the end, we all want others to listen to our wants and needs. We want to be seen, be heard and acknowledged. This is why when you connect with people, remember to see them as people, and not as objects to serve your needs and make them feel invisible.

Get curious about their wants, get curious about who they are, ask questions, challenge yourself to find something interesting about them – and try to identify what are the interesting points that connect the two of you. This is a good way to share your story from their need and create a deeper connection.

 

But if I spend so much time with few people how can I reach to as many as possible so they can help me?

In the end, no one will help you if they don’t know you. People help people they know, it is rare for a stranger to help you find a job, or support your business if they don’t know you. This is why I teach my clients to attend the same places consistently. There are many groups you can join or volunteer with; Meet Up is a great place to find your people. If you like to workout find a group, you want and show up every time. If you have the time I would suggest to volunteer with an organization, there is no better way to get to know people and leaders in the organization and your community than volunteering with a committee, the board or other projects. Ask yourself how likely are you to recommend someone on your running group who you speak with twice a week for a long time vs. a person you met for a quick 5 minutes’ conversation in a networking event?

 

There is no networking police
If the thought of meeting so many people in a networking event can sound daunting, exhausting and frustrating, especially for the introverts in the room. Here is a tip I share with my clients and my audience: “There is no networking police in networking events.” Let me suggest a different approach, rather than meeting all the people in the room and having short and non-meaningful conversations, go into a room and find one or two people that you can have a deep and meaningful conversations. After you had that experience, if you are done, go. No one is there to report your short attendance or stats about how many people you met. The more you work on the muscle of networking you will feel less exhausted and create opportunities rather than frustration and many shallow conversations that take you nowhere.

 

What is one new intention you can bring or practice in your next networking, conference or other events?

 

When Reality Bites

A few months ago I attended a business summit where one of the speakers taught us how to go live on Facebook, or as we call it: Facebook Live. At the same time, I was working on a special short keynote speech for a conference in front of a live audience. It was somewhat like a five minutes TEDx talk speech. Now I am not new to speaking in front of an audience, but I tell you, to craft a five minutes’ message on stage was one of the most challenging projects I have ever had had in a while. Beyond the message, there was another component in the room: seven video cameras that will capture my message in one shot, no retakes. Which means that the video could turn out to be a professional video that represents my speaking skills, or not. 

FB Live Reality Bites.jpg

Back to the presenter at the Summit, one of the things that pulled my attention when the speaker was sharing his knowledge about going live on Facebook was the idea that the more you use Facebook live, the more comfortable you feel in front of a video camera. Although I started using more and more videos as part of what I do, I could still sense that I am not as comfortable as I wanted to be with video cameras. Since I wanted to get better with video skills and feel more comfortable in front of a camera, at that moment, I decided to experiment with Facebook live.

And that’s how one journey evoked another journey. To find a way to commit and be consistent with my Facebook live, I decided to connect the Facebook live with another activity – my runs. I run 2 or 3 times a week, depends on my schedule, so I decided that after each run I will do a Facebook live. I called my Facebook live: “on the run.” These Facebook live talks are casual talks; me with pink cheeks after a run, still catching up my breath, sweating and sharing a thought that came to mind while running. Beyond the practicing I felt that going live on Facebook will be an opportunity for me to walk my talk of getting messy, It wasn’t about creating the perfect well-crafted speech, it was about showing up with my raw thoughts and share them with my audience with no editing. And that’s how it all started.

Creating my intention to share my thoughts on Facebook required a new skill, from pure connection with self, I had to figure out what topic I should speak about after each run. 
Sometimes I knew right away what the topic is going to be, but sometimes no real topic came to mind and I could sense how I am trying to force the topic on me. This is how I learned that I need to manage my thoughts, sometimes what I needed was to surrender, let go of finding a topic and allow the topic to find me. I had to learn how to quiet my mind and allow my running time to be what it meant to be for me, a time to think about nothing else, to connect with nature and see endless opportunities in the blue (or cloudily) sky. 

Last week, when I went on my run, I felt that maybe I should shake things a bit and change my running route, and rather than turning left in the usual way I turned right. The moment I turned right, I smiled and told myself: Cool! Here is a topic for today’s Facebook live, I can talk about habits and how great it can be to shake things around, find a new way to do things, see how a new way can impact you and what you can learn from the experience. Perfect!” But at the same time, something unusual had happened, I had a sharp pain in both knees while running, it felt like needles pinched my nerves again and again and then it stopped. Ha! I told myself, my body doesn’t like the change, should I listen to what my body is saying to me?
I decided to keep going, but I could sense how this little change in my route felt so uncomfortable for my body; the downhill was uphill, what used to be behind me was now in front of me everything felt a bit off. But the sky was blue, and I was so excited to share my experience with my FB Live audience. I was almost home when I passed a lady who was walking with her dog. The lady and I smiled at each other, as we do in our neighborhood, I kept some space from her and the dog, but I know that Labrador-Retriever dogs are very calm and smiley dogs.  And then it happened faster than the wind, the dog jumped, I thought it was a friendly jump to say hi, but then I could feel it. I looked at the lady with pain and told her: “Your dog just bit me!” we both looked at each other with surprise. I was hurt, not because of the pain from the bite (yes it did hurt!) but you see, I love dogs, as a child, my house was filled with dogs and animals. Beyond the burning pain, and the anti-tetanus shot and antibiotics and canceling all plans with clients, I think what hurt the most was that a dog, an animal I love so much just bit me. 
For the rest of the day I kept asking myself, what had just happened? Did the instant pinching pain in my knees was my body way of communicating with me that I should not choose the opposite direction? Should I listen better to my body rather than going against it? What is the lesson I should learn?
But there was also another thought that brought a smile to my face: remember what I shared? I planned to share on Facebook Live how beautiful it can be to change our habits and see what we can learn from them but sometimes, just sometimes... reality bites… 

Oh! If you want to check my 5min keynote talk – you can check this link.


 

Followers?

Yes, I became one of these people who read 2-3 books at the same time. Most of them are books around what I do as a coach. I am looking for inspiration, nuggets, a line that will pull my attention to dig deeper and this week was no different. The inspiration came from the word followers. I got caught in the leader-follower term that we all use now. I think before it was the word "subordinates, " and since we are moving from the top down management to leadership so now we have the word: followers. But the more I think about it; I am not sure I would like to stick with this term, followers, let me tell you why.
 I believe that my role as a leader is not to make all the decisions, but to create an environment that makes others shine. It is interesting watching myself struggle with not going into solutions when I lead (or even when I parent). As a coach, you stay away from fixing, or go into solutions for your client which is 99% very easy to me. But as a leader to allow the other side to come up with solutions, experiment with them and see where it will take us that's a work in progress. Everyone talk about what the leader needs to do to make people follow them. Leadership by its very definition presumes that there are followers to lead. And if there are followers to lead, that creates the necessity of an actual leader. Essentially, leaders exist because of followers and followers exist because of leaders (Hogg, 2001). I admit that I see it the other way around. I think that as I see it, it is about what the leaders need to stop doing, or even just do less? The less they do, the more space they create for others to shine. So if you stay with me, we move into Zen approach leadership where less is more. The less you suggest, the more others shine, the more you go to the back, or to the side, the more others want to go to the front. Even in the messiness of others, I have learned that it is what I don’t do or try to fix in them that will allow their storm to calm down and come back different when they are ready. So that made me think… if... I as a leader go more and more to the back if I focus on asking questions, if I manage myself to do less and create more space for others to move to the front, they are not followers. 
Pause for our story time. Last time I talked about one of my biggest gifts, this time I will share one of my biggest weaknesses. My orientation, my sense of direction is just horrible. Put me in the car with GPS, and I will probably get lost. Every time I am sure that I walk or drive in the right direction without a map or GPS I walk/drive to the opposite direction.
When I was in college, my friend and I attended the same class for a year. For a year, every time we left the classroom, she slowed down and let me lead the way. Every time we left the class I took the wrong turn, then I would look at her and realized that she was giggling. After a semester she stopped and said: “Noa, I can’t believe, we come here every week, and every time we leave the classroom you head in the wrong direction”. 
Yes, luckily my husband and my two boys have an incredible sense of direction, and I follow their lead, which takes me back to the word: followers. When I walk with my husband in a new city I don’t even try, I trust that he will take me to the right place, but in that trust, I let go of curiosity or learning, I move the responsibility to him. You see, as a follower, I don’t need responsibility, it is my husband's job to make sure we get to the right place. Now, in the next day, if I will need to walk on the same route that my husband and I walked the day before, I will have no memory of the path, I will need to start from scratch with a map as I have never been there before.
So you see, my concern when we use the word followers is that as leaders we want our team, our employees, our client or members to be engaged, to be responsible – but we come from an intention/mindset of seeing them as followers. How can they take on responsibility??? by the way as a leader do you want everyone to follow you?

“Hey! I need your help” I texted my husband who was sitting in an Irish Pub at the other side of the world “do you have a different word for 'follower?'” 
Yes, that’s another problem I have, I start from my end thought and forget about all the intro. So I began my text message again, now with a full intro, or at least as much as I can write when my create brain wants an answer right here right now. I waited to see what words he will share. 
I know as a leader and as a coach that I can’t allow myself to use the mindset of wanting others to follow me or invite others to create a culture of followers. 
So I came up with the term: WALKERS.
When we walk, we can walk side by side and have a real conversation, but sometimes when the path is too narrow, you can walk before me, or choose to slow down and allow me to lead. It doesn’t matter unless we are hiking in North Carolina during spring, or summer or early fall and then I will probably ask you to go in front just in case we bump into a snake, but that's a topic for another post.

By the way, my husband came up with the word: “Devotee.”
What would be your word?
        

The NO Line

As a child, many moons ago, before the reality TV hit the road and their producers didn’t even dream about keeping with the Kardashians, on days when there were no friends to play with or older siblings around to share my imaginative ideas, I used to go to our family living room and pretend that I am on TV and everyone can see what I do right here right now.

In the past few years I was more mindful about doing being, I know, it sounds weird when you read it: “doing being?” – but stay with me.

I am not sure how exactly it started, maybe when my clients started to tell me that I am very intuitive and instead of pushing my intuition away, as I used to, I started listening to it, the more I paid attention to it, the more connected I felt. The intuition opened the door to zoom in and understand my FEARS, I was so astounded and at the same time paralyzed with my relationship around fear. How the fear shows up in my thoughts and how theses thoughts lead me to courageous decisions and many times, not too proud to say, to stop me from moving forward.
Bringing it back to my childhood reality TV story, in a way it was like I have decided to put a camera behind my back that will watch me all the time and I can watch the inner happenings at Noa’s Show (I think it can be a cool name for a reality TV show).
That’s what lead me into experimenting with meditation that taught me about how to stay with curiosity even when I can’t shut down the inner chatter. It’s okay. It is not about being upset with myself that I can’t, it is about noticing and bringing myself back with no judgment.

To make a long story short, I took myself on a path where I have learned how to of observe my senses, my emotions and my thoughts with no judgment at the Noa’s Show.

A few months ago I decided to experiment with running. It started as a suggestion for my 12 years old to do something together, so we started the couch to 5K program. She hated it. I, on the other hand, loved it. The more I kept going with the program the more my body yelled back at me: “Hey! Let me run more and more.” So I decided that my body probably knows better than me and I just need to listen to it. I ran more and more and It got to the point where body yelled even louder: “more!” so I decided to go for a bigger loop. Everything went well, I was running up the hill, and then my body was starting to lose it. It wasn’t happy anymore, I was really struggling, I just wanted to get to that church sign and stop, but that church seemed so far away from me and I moved into walking few feet before I got to the sign. Then on my next run everything went really well until I got into that same hill, closer to the church’s sign, “I think I can get to the church line! I can do it,” I told myself internally, all I needed to do was to pass the church sign, but my body, again, gave up few feet before the sign. I felt very frustrated and could notice how the reality TV camera is trying to understand what is going on there.

The next time, I felt like no matter what, I am not going to give up! I started the run, the hill, my body started to be upset with me, but then as much as it was hard I heard the inner cheerleader telling the quitter that he knows that I have that tendency to quit but not this time, and to make it even more interesting I heard him saying: “Listen, this time not only that you are not going to aim for the church as your line to stop, we are going to do something crazy! you will keep going as much as you like, no lines!”
The quitter was ready to quit, but the funny thing was that the moment there was no line to cross, the quitter lost interest and the cheerleader got in charge. Not only that I passed that church sign I was able to keep running another mile as if I just started.
That experience was so strong that the next time I ran, every time I felt like I am about to quit I heard the inner cheerleader yelling at me: “no Lines! Just run, stop when you are ready.”

When I took the running experience into my day to day experiences, I realized that there are some areas in my life that I am stuck for the same reason. My quitter loves lines, or should I be really messy here and say that he loves not crossing the lines – he will quit even before I get to the line. Understanding my pattern, I let go of some lines I drew in my life and as funny as it sounds that freedom left the quitter with not much work to do. So if you are in need of part-time quitter you are welcome to hire him he is available to start immediately.

Stuck with my Sticky Notes

 

Once in a while, I get stuck. I get stuck between my thoughts and my beliefs about how I want my next steps to look like. 
Although I crave to move forward, something is holding me back and I just can’t, I am stuck.

What makes us get stuck? What is that THING? 
For me being stuck is about trying to fight the “not moving”, fighting my thoughts, the thoughts that are trying to convince me that I must do. I hear voices in my head saying: “you need to do this” and “you should do that” and “you cannot procrastinate and not do anything!!!”.

So, I sit, do nothing and feel even worse about myself.

But, what if I would just give in? What if I would just allow myself not to DO anything without feeling guilty about it? What if I would just allow myself to process where I am and let my thoughts and feelings move me forward to the next step? What will happen then?

Anyway trying is just pretending to be working….

So last week I just gave in, my husband and I came back from our first no kids’ vacation. It was one of our top 10 vacations together. We needed time to connect with no interruptions and just be with each other. But when we returned back from our vacation I was able to see things about my business that I couldn’t see or think about before, when I was focused on the DOING.
 One of the thoughts that came kept nudging me, or pulling my attention during our vacation was that I need to change few concepts and let go of others, which required from me to redesign my business. I could see bits and bytes but the hardest part was to sit down and write the new plan. I tried to pretend, but after few days I gave in. I gave in and dived into the deep sea.

In my deep sea of giving in, there were groups of fish with thoughts and feelings, a big octopus which likes to hug me with stories about "how I can't".  But then when I saw the dolphins skipping and flipping, I knew this is my sign, the sign that I am ready. I pulled myself out of the deep water and took a little breath and then I pulled my sticky note and started writing everything I saw during my diving experience. Suddenly all the quiet thoughts and even emotions made sense to me.

You will never catch me out without my sticky notes, I use them to capture interesting thoughts from books, from blogs, capture a new thought or idea about a project, or just mark my next 3 important things to focus on my day. They allow me to give a voice to my thoughts, fears, and emotions and create a structure out of it. From words that are floating around me, I create relationships and meaningful connections that can move me forward.

Some people call my system a workflow, some call it mind mapping, it can be either or neither, it doesn’t matter to me. What really matters to me is that it works for the way I think.

Now I want to share something with you, I believe that there are too many people out there who think their recipe is the one that will save your life, your business, your career. But, we are all different, even being stuck can mean to you something totally different than my own experience that I just have shared with you. Dont get attached.

So next time, when you get stuck take a moment to pause and observe where you are, notice how you behave, notice what you think, what are the fears, the dreams, and expectations you have in the experience. Observe who you are when you get stuck, maybe it is time to just BE with it rather than resisting it. We run too many times to the doing of things before we are ready for it then we feel like big procrastinators. Maybe we just need to BE?
 I do believe that from the nothing something will show up.