FA: My belief a few are born leaders; however, the vast majority are made. I've seen many members of Toastmasters become effective leaders. My belief is that most Toastmasters join to improve their communications skills; however, they soon learn to be better leaders.
Not only because Toastmasters has a Leadership program, but members gain confidence and focus. There are many traits for leaders; however, I believe we can't be a leader if we don't have self confidence. Once we have confidence, we tend to focus on our lost dreams, our passion, and our ambitions. That's when others are attracted to us and we become true leaders.
RM: I’ve had the opportunity to work with new leaders in my field. Sometimes they question the importance of networking. Why is networking important, and how can people become effective at it?
FA: In my opinion, networking is ESSENTIAL to keep stability in our businesses. It's takes 7 to 12 times more effort to find a new customer than to maintain an existing customer. Logically, it makes sense to maintain customers, but how do we maintain customers? By building relationships.
Why does Wal Mart hire greeter? To welcome their customers and make them feel at home. Simply, to build relationships with their customers. Direct mail campaigns, e-mail campaigns, advertising, and any other traditional ways to market may bring business and may be essential, but these methods do not build relationships.
By joining a local chamber, a networking group, a service organization, etc. you will meet the movers and shakers of your community. How else will they get to know you and what you can do for them – other than meeting them?
To be effective at networking, a few of the many situations I discuss in my networking workshops are:
1. Don't just join organizations like the local chamber, networking groups, etc. You need to participate. Get involved. Join a committee. Volunteer to help at events. Participate in a business expo. Do something so the others will get to know you. Don't expect much or any business if you merely meet for lunch once a month.
2. Have business cards available 24/7 because you don't know where you might have a chance to network. You can network not only at networking organizations, but at a birthday party, your service club, an ethnic group such as the Sons of Italy, a neighborhood gathering, at seminars and workshops, etc. It's amazing to me that when I have a workshop on networking, at least one and sometimes the majority of the class didn't bring business cards!
3. Most importantly, when you network, never use "I,"s. We don't network to sell anything. That comes later. We are there to "network," i.e. to build a relationship by learning from each other. We need to LISTEN to the other person.
4. If you go with someone else to an event, trade show, etc. DO NOT stay together. I've been self-employed for many years. Sometimes I go to networking events with my wife and/or business associates. We rarely see each other at the event. The purpose of attending a networking event is to meet OTHER people – not to mingle with people from your own group.
5. Develop a 30-sec speech that's meaningful. If asked what you do, will you say, "Hi, my name is Stan Smith and I'm a Realtor" or "“Hi, my name is Stan Smith, I work with people who want to achieve superior returns on their real estate investments, while saving money on their taxes, and I’m so glad that I’ve finally got the opportunity to meet you Mr. Trump. Do you have a quick moment to chat, or may I give you a call at your office.”
6. Join Toastmasters to help you learn to ask appropriate questions and to answer questions in an organized and concise manner.
To learn more about Frank's services and workshops, visit his website.