March Brainstorm


Tips on networking for non-networkers, the impact of colour in your work surroundings, the power of asking and how even the most reticent among us can overcome our resistance to selling ourselves and our ideas.

1: Networking for Non-Networkers
On my blog I have written several posts about how people who normally are averse to networking (which includes me) can manage it.

An article in the March/April issue of "Psychology Today" has some other useful tips:

  • Make eye contact (but don't stare).
  • Say anything. It doesn't have to be witty, it's just a signal that you're willing to chat. A comment on the room or the occasion is fine.
  • Don't give only yes or no answers. Add information that can further the conversation.
  • You're not actually there to sell your services on the spot, just to meet people, so don't think you have to make a sales pitch. And one I'd add:
  • Have a business card that will help people remember you when they see it after the meeting. On mine it says, "That tall writer you met."

ACTION: If you're hesitant about networking, the next time you go to an event, keep the points above in mind and see how much easier it is.

2: Get Rid of the Red!
Do you have red objects in your work or study surroundings?

A new study reported in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests it might be a good idea to get rid of it. In the experiment, students did four different tests on paper forms. On some forms there was a design element that was green, on others it was red or grey. When students had red on their paper, their performance dropped. An earlier test in Japan showed that people did worse on visual tests when the computer had a red surround.

The theory is that red triggers some kind of primitive warning of danger which distracts our intellectual capacity.

ACTION: If you have red accessories, notebooks, etc. in your work area, try removing them and see whether you are better able to focus.

3: More on the Power of Asking
Even though I don't always use it as fully as I could, I'm a big believer in the power of asking for what you want (as long as you make it a win-win proposition for the people you're asking).

There's a new bit of confirmation in a study reported in the "International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity". In American schools, when children had the (unprompted) option of having fruit or juice with their lunches, 40 per cent did so. But when the ladies serving the lunch specifically asked, "Would you like fruit or juice with your meal?" 70 per cent of the kids did so. Obviously the 'would you like fries with that?' strategy works!

The study didn't mention this, but I think the effect may also be partly due to the wording which, intentionally or not, builds in an implied presupposition: some kids may interpret the question as, "I'm going to give you either fruit or juice, which one do you want?"

ACTION: This week, try asking for one thing. As in the study, leave people the option of saying no, but notice the results.

4: Selling Yourself on Sales
The March issue of "Inc. Magazine" has an interesting article on overcoming our resistance to sales. It points out that selling requires facing two universal undesirables: uncertainty and rejection.

The writer, Alison Stein Willner, notes that entrepreneurs [or writers/artists/etc.] "are especially vulnerable…because the product or service in question is their own." Tips from the article:

  • treat each contact as an interesting exercise that may fail but takes you one experience closer to success;
  • mentally focus on the benefits of what you're offering to your clients;
  • if you hate face-to-face pitching, find an alternative. The article mentions a woman who was selling a background-checking service, who never got comfortable about selling directly. Instead, she decided to send out 1000 letters offering a free trial of her service. It worked so well that she almost never has to cold-call anymore.

ACTION: W e all sell in one way or another. If this is an uncomfortable process for you, try getting creative about different ways to achieve the same end.

5: And a quote (question) to think about:
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" - Mary Oliver.

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About The Author

Jurgen Wolff
Jurgen Wolff

Jurgen Wolff is a writer, teacher, and hypnotherapist. His goal is to help individuals liberate their own creativity through specific techniques that can be used at work as well as at home. His recent books include "Focus: the power of targeted thinking," a W. H. Smith best-seller, and "Your Writing Coach".