Making a memorable networking impression: Interview with communication coach Gloria Pierre

Networking is a crucial skill for immigrants to Canada to develop. In this interview with Gloria Pierre, founder and president of Clearly Speaking, she explains how to make memorable impressions and how to follow up on networking encounters effectively.

Transcript: 

Nafiz Imtiaz:
Hello, everyone. This is Nafiz Imtiaz. I’m here with Gloria Pierre, the President of Clearly Speaking. We’ll be talking about networking. Thanks for your time today.

Gloria Pierre:
You’re very welcome.

Nafiz Imtiaz:
So to start with my first question to you is, what is networking?

Gloria Pierre:
Networking is the activity of connecting with people. Connecting with maybe one person or a group of people, to exchange information and resources, for professional and social reasons. It is something that, in North America, we need to be doing all the time. Because everything that we need, somebody else has, and somebody else can help us to get it.

Nafiz Imtiaz:
So why is networking so important for newcomers?

Gloria Pierre:
When newcomers come to Canada, they may not have a lot of family or support here. Networking allows them to go out into the community, to meet new people, extend their database. It helps them to integrate faster in the Canadian society. It helps them to socialize more easily, because now they will be talking to so many people. It helps them to reduce nervousness, especially when they are going for an interview, because the same skills that are used in interviews are the same skills that are used in networking. For example, making small talk, answering questions, introducing yourself. And it also helps them to get to know the lay of the land, where things are, where resources are, and so forth.

Nafiz Imtiaz:
So what are the essential skills for networking?

Gloria Pierre:
The essentials are smiling, because smiling connects you with that person immediately. It’s introducing yourself. It’s making small talk and eye contact. Because in some cultures, the eye contact, and introducing yourself or even handshakes are not present. So those are the skills, eye contact, smiling, introducing yourself, and handshakes.

Nafiz Imtiaz:
So how do newcomers develop these skills?

Gloria Pierre:
By observing. And maybe talking to, having a mentor, if possible. But observing, most of all. And coming in with an open mind. Because regardless of where they come from, they have certain perceptions. And those perceptions may not be true here in Canada, so just coming with an open mind and learning to ask questions. And not feel self-conscious when they are doing networking.

Nafiz Imtiaz:
So my next question is, how to do networking purposefully and memorably?

Gloria Pierre:
What they should be doing to make a very purposeful and memorable impression is, listen more than they talk. Because by listening more than they talk, they will be hearing what the other person is saying. And everybody is looking for something or the other. And you may think you’re the only one who’s looking for something, but no. That other person that you’re speaking to is looking for something. And you may not realize it, but you probably can help that person. So don’t think because you’ve just come to Canada, that you don’t have anything to offer. You probably have a lot more than you know and you will only discover that when you are in conversation with someone.

So the most important thing is, when you’re networking, go out with the intention of helping someone first before asking for their help. Because nobody is going to help you if you don’t develop a relationship with them. If you’re a stranger, they will be very skeptical and will probably outright say, “No.” But if you are, if you show more generosity, and you offer to help them first, guess what? They will remember that and they will want to reciprocate.

Nafiz Imtiaz:
So to wrap up, I would like to ask you, how to do the follow-ups after networking?

Gloria Pierre:
The most important part of follow-up is the result of that listening I was talking about earlier. Because when you’re speaking to someone and you are listening, they are telling you what it is they want, and they may not even realize it. So one way I follow-up is, I remember what that person want. They could be talking about maybe getting a vet for their dog, and I’m here in Canada just a couple months ago, but guess what? My neighbor was talking to me about the fact that he is very pleased with that service, so I would follow-up in this way. I would email that person. Say, “You know, it was wonderful meeting you. And by the way, you were talking, you were concerned about getting a vet for your dog. I have a contact for you.” And again, that person will be very grateful.

The other thing is to, when you are following up, don’t bombard them with email saying, “Guess what? You said you were going to do this and you’re not doing it.” Just give that person space. You don’t know the person. This is where you are developing that relationship. So take your time and don’t rush it. And again, you have to show your best side to this person for them to want to develop a relationship with you.

Nafiz Imtiaz:
Gloria, thank you so much for being with us today.

Gloria Pierre:
You’re welcome. Thank you.

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