At work, and increasingly at play too, we're rarely a spectator, and if we're not mindful, we're constantly under a certain amount of pressure to perform all the time.
We're on our best behaviour, promoting our business, being nice to everyone, with a bright smile on our face no matter what the day has been like so far or will bring going forward.
"We expect, and are expected, to be busy doing stuff the whole time!"
Arrived early for your meeting? Well, send a tweet or answer those emails and texts. Caught in traffic? I know a lot of you will use it to check your messages and make some phone calls. I get follow-up messages from people I hardly spoke to at network meetings before I've even got back to my car! I've been told this is good practice, but it actually drives me nuts. There's pressure is to respond instantly.
Even exercising is pressured these days! You have to record your steps on your smartwatch or fitness monitor as you must reach your target this week in order to be healthy. We're exhorted to keep an eye on our diet to ensure it's got the right balance of nutrition. The list of the wrong things to eat gets longer and longer every day.
Go on, be an anarchist; be a rebel! Don't wait for your summer holidays to take some time out from performance to be a spectator at some point of each day.
Got a few minutes before your next meeting? Why not use it to people watch, simply to chill with no agenda. Switch the wretched phone off! No agenda, so no need to plan what comes next. No need to interact with others, to think about their needs, or even what you want to do next. Then you'll be relaxed and ready when your appointment arrives.
"If that sounds really scary, I'll tell you a personal story!"
Many years ago, I remember being sent on a stress management course. Right at the beginning, I was introduced to something called a relaxation exercise. We had to lie on the floor and focus on relaxing our muscles, starting at our feet and ending up with our breathing.
About five minutes into the exercise I started to get really annoyed and wanted to get up. I was thinking, "Oh, for goodness sake, hurry up! I understand what you want to me to do, now can we get on with the rest of the course as I can practice this at home at anytime!" I didn't, but I didn't relax either.
After about 20 minutes (which felt like an hour to me), the trainer said "I expect that some of you have been itching to get up and move on for some time now. In fact, some of you might even be feeling angry that I'm wasting your time." Instant wriggle moment as I realised that I really needed the course!
So I was really pleased to listen to Dr Ivan Misner in his recent video blog talking about his survey of business people where he found that the least important characteristics of a good networker are all about being too direct, self-promotional and pushy.
Take the pressure off yourself and others to put on a performance all the time! Be yourself, take time to reflect and give others the time to reflect too. You will actually perform much better.
One last reflection from my experience that I expect lots of you share too. Referrals and sales arrive like London buses. You get none and then a whole rush come along at the same time.
I believe the reason is an observation many people make. When we need the work we feel under pressure and tend to come across as self promotional and pushy. We get a sale, which takes the pressure off. so we stop being pushy, and blow me, more just seem to follow.
Of course, you need to do the groundwork and let people know what services you have to offer, but take the pressure off you and your contacts by spending your time together developing your relationships rather than touting for business.
When networking with your peers, be present in the room, be mindful of what is actually happening at that moment, and sensitive to needs of others. I bet if you do opportunities will follow.
I'll leave you with a quote from someone who achieved fame from being the most laid-back dude of all time: "Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits."
"Don't you just love Winnie the Pooh?"
If you'd like to talk about anything I've mentioned here, or want to learn more about referral marketing and how I can help you improve your networking, call me on 07970 638857 or click here to send me an email and let's grab a coffee soon.
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