A review of the May networking evening by Natalie Carstens
Networking - Communication Skills with Vanessa PrinsOur May networking evening at the Carlton Ambassador was met with much enthusiasm by our members and guests this month.
WBII member, Vanessa Prins from Goodman Coaching, gave an interesting talk on honing your communication skills.
Vanessa began her presentation by asking the group how we communicate, and asking who small business owners have relationships with. Who do you have a relationship with?

  • Clients
  • Referral Sources
  • Colleagues/Organisations
  • Networking groups
  • Business Partners
  • Online network

We learned that making new relationships and maintaining those relationships is important, and that recognising cultural aspects – especially living in such an international city – was something we ought to focus on.
Vanessa described cultivating relationships as “slow marketing”. Good communication skills allow you to build long term relationships – with clients, with referrers, business acquaintances, even relationships in your personal life.
Communication is 5% words, 38% tone of voice, and 35% body language.
Whereas verbal communication gives the message, it is non-verbal communication that fine-tunes your message; an interesting concept.
Exercise: Orange or Green
Vanessa led the group through a fun exercise whereby the participants were split into groups of two. In each group, one person was a speaker who was asked to talk as though they were introducing themselves at a networking event, and the other a listener.  The listener selected either a green paper or an orange paper and followed the instructions given on the paper.
The orange paper asked the listener to:

  • give their full attention
  • let the person speak
  • make eye contact
  • hold an open body posture
  • use appropriate facial expressions (smiling)
  • use of nodding/humming

The green paper asked the listener to:

  • get distracted: look around, at your watch, have your pen fall on the floor
  • look angry or bored

The results were of course mixed; those who had a ‘green’ listener felt quite put out by their experience, whereas those with ‘orange’ listeners felt that what they were saying held value to the listener and enjoyed a much more positive experience. The point of the exercise was clear, showing how active listening was a much more positive form of communication!
Tips for Active Listening

  • Use brief verbal utterances to encourage further
  • Use reflecting/paraphrasing: “so you said,…”
  • Use summarising
  • Use questions to clarify what the person is saying “what did you do then,…”
  • Use questions to try and clarify the feelings of the speaker: “it seems you felt,…” or “did you feel…?”
  • Use of nodding/humming

Givers, Takers, and Balance
Research has shown that there are 3 types of communicators: Givers, takers and those who are balanced. It is said that givers can be both the most successful, and also the least, depending on their ability to give from their own strength.
In summary, if you find out more about others’ potential needs, you are more likely to succeed in communication with your clients. Success hinges more on effective networking, collaboration, influence, negotiation and leadership – all of which are informed by and made more valuable by being a ‘giver’.