03 Jul

Influential Communication for Informal Situations

Influential Communication for Informal Situations

I recently enrolled a new client who asked for tips on how to communicate value during informal, off-the-cuff conversations. Her question totally resonated with me, because early in my career I used short, casual interactions to promote my qualifications and land my first dream job.

You find yourself at Starbuck’s in line next to your CEO, or you share the elevator with the HR Director. You can chat about the weather, or you can capitalize on that fleeting opportunity to make yourself memorable and add momentum to your next promotion.

Those who lack poise under pressure and refined communication skills are prone to be intimidated, uneasy, or unable to relate in that situation. So how you respond in casual circumstances speaks volumes about your ability to network with leaders and move with agility across social and cultural landscapes. You don’t even have to talk about work. Sometimes you can distinguish yourself with a confident, charismatic presence by simply engaging comfortably in an interesting conversation.

The key is to be well prepared. You might think of something great to say two hours later, but by then your moment has passed. Decide what you want to take away from these kinds of chance encounters and plan accordingly.

What do you actually know about the important people of influence who are in your network or organization? Do some homework if necessary, because you might find out valuable nuggets. Maybe you attended the same university where their child hopes to go, or you both garden or play tennis. Small connections often plant the seeds of fruitful relationships.

If you don’t know anything about them, think of a great question to ask. Solicit their opinion. Tell them about an inspirational book you just read. Quote something from a speech or presentation they gave and let them know that it inspired you or stimulated your creative process. Mention that you’re looking for a mentor and ask for a recommendation. Who knows? Maybe they’ll volunteer to take you under their wing.

Any connections you can make have the potential to enhance your career. That’s why most top leaders are pre-screened during formal job interviews but are really vetted and scrutinized when they least expect it – during after-hours parties, impromptu lunches, or weekend retreats. When employees have their guard down, decision makers have their radar on and take detailed notes – so leverage informal communication to your advantage.

Tell me what you think! Please post your valued and valuable comments below.



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Sarah Hathorn is a leadership development mentor, executive presence coach, image and branding consultant, public speaker & author. She is the founding CEO of her own successful company, Illustra Consulting, and the creator of the proprietary Predictable Promotion System™.

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Copyright © 2012, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIP, CPBS

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Sarah Hathorn
Sarah Hathorn, CEO of Hathorn Consulting Group, is the go-to-expert in working with leaders and companies to create successful corporate DNA. As an executive coach, consultant and speaker she collaborates globally with clients and brands such as Kimberly-Clark, Sherwin-Williams, Home Depot and other leading organizations.
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