I had wondered in advance whether we were going to spend the day learning how to shake hands etc, and, whilst we did do a tiny bit of that, there was a whole lot more to it! The day was split into four chunks, and at the beginning we were each given a reflective sheet to fill in, to note specific skills we'd learnt each time, plus what we should start and stop doing, do more of and change. This helped me to think about what I'd learnt in each section and reflect on it.
We started off by talking about self-confidence, where it comes from and how you can develop it. It is connected with both skills and self-awareness, so being aware of a skills deficit and taking action to acquire those skills, will help you to develop self-confidence. Simple preparatory measures, such as looking into who the other delegates are in advance of a conference and thinking about who you would like to talk to, all help.
Then we worked our way through the seven principles:
- Self-awareness This covered self-regard and resilience, optimism, happiness and assertiveness. We looked at practical ways of building optimism and happiness.
- Accentuate the positive No one wants to hang around with someone negative, so think about your personal narrative and how you can focus on the positive.
- Be a chameleon
- Be appropriately memorable I could think of so many ways to be inappropriately memorable... But that wasn't the point. We talked about dress, body language, small talk and knowledge and how, whilst you can show your personality, it's important to demonstrate respect for the other person and show that you have made an effort. Think about how you would like people to remember you after your meeting. We then did an exercise working on small talk and swopping partners as we added in different aspects to work on. It was helpful to try out different postures, and think about how each makes you come across. I also found this section useful as we had a diagram of a room at an event, with various people identified on it, and we discussed the pros and cons of approaching these people.
- Mastering modern manners This section started with us brainstorming in groups the top ten things that annoy us. A lot of the annoyances seemed to be about the appropriate use of mobile phones(!), but the general theme was behaviour that seems to indicate someone isn't thinking of others, such as poor timekeeping, being unreliable or failing to say please/thank you. Again, much food for thought, as the lists were individual to each of us, although with significant crossover, and it made us think about how we come across to others, and simple things to do to help people think well of you.
- Guard your reputation Related to this was guarding your reputation. Once people are thinking well of you, you want to it stay that way! We talked about what we'd like to be known for, including professionalism, discretion and knowledge of our specialism. We also talked about our three levels of network: our personal networks, which consist of our friends and maybe social activities/clubs we belong to, our operational networks, which are our colleagues at work, and our strategic networks, which are the people with the bigger picture, and include our coaches and mentors.
- Follow up Finally, we learnt about following up. How many times have you taken someone's card or email address at a conference and promised to be in touch, and then not followed through?! Yet, without follow up, there's no point doing all the previous six principles. We discussed being assertive in following up, how to end a conversation with a promise of a future meeting, and then how to go about arranging that. For example, you are far more likely to get someone to agree to spend 20/30 minutes meeting you for a coffee, than suggesting a lengthy meeting a long way from where they work.
|A chameleon. From Wikimedia Commons|
This is only a brief overview of the day's course, but I learnt a huge amount from it, plus a lot which I can hopefully put into practice at events I'm attending over the summer for work.