Sunday, July 26, 2020

Pathways - Making Connections through Networking - Say “Hello”

Pathways - Making Connections through Networking - Say “Hello” (Dynamic Leadership Path / Level 3 / Project 3) 


“Hello! Is this your first time to a Division event?”. 

“Yesss…. Yes Sir!”. 

“Btw., I’m John… President of Speakmasters club”.  He sounded as if he is the President of the United States. He extended his arm, his face brimming with confidence. 

With some hesitation, I extended my arm and said “I’m S..S..Saro”, trembling in fear like a chicken, with sweaty palms, my hand feeling like a dead fish. 

Have you ever been in a social gathering, feeling small like Alice in Wonderland? Well, I was like you, several years ago. 

Hello fellow Toastmasters and Guests,

During those days, I was an English introvert. If this is the first time you are hearing this term, don’t worry. I coined the term just 30 minutes before the meeting. “English Introvert” means… If I have to talk to someone in Tamil about my recent vacation, I would speak for hours. But, if I have to do the same in English, I’ll be spellbound. So, people who speak English, always used to think that I was an introvert.

Thanks to the various roles that I played at Toastmasters, I am no more an English introvert. Last December, I attended a conference in Chennai. It was a technology conference. Today, I am going to share some experiences from that event. 

Be the first

When I walked-in to the venue in the morning, I saw men and women in their professional attire. Most people were in groups ... busy talking to each other. There were no familiar faces. I spotted a lonely geek - dark complexion, wearing spectacles and looked like our Area Director Vicky. I approached him and said “Hello! I’m Saro”. He smiled, and said “Hi! I am Anand”. We shook our hands (Well! It was perfectly ok to shake hands, then)… and the conversation slowly branched into our work, common friends and technology trends. Thanks to the SAA role that I played in Toastmasters, I don’t hesitate to reach out first to someone. it relieves the pressure on you and helps you to hide your fears. It also makes you look confident. 

Don’t blow your trumpet

During the lunch break, I joined a small group of people. They were from various companies in Chennai and Bangalore. Most of the conversations were about the technology and industry. Suddenly, one guy barged into the group and interrupted the flow. A tall guy, in his mid 30s ... he resembled Actor Vishal. He started talking… “Hey guys! I am an entrepreneur. I did my MBA in XLRI MBA. I worked for some of the best companies like Microsoft and IBM. I earned a 7 figure income. Now, I am running my own company. We do business across the globe. We’ve several fortune 500 companies as our clients. We have such a cool product. Why our product is so different is... ”. He was talking non-stop and was trying to hog the conversation. He was trying to continuously promote himself, his company and his products. After 5 minutes, folks lost their interest and started to evaporate like vapour, one by one. Friends, when you start blowing your trumpet, the audience may not be interested to hear that tune very long. 

Don’t pretend that you know

We had some informative sessions throughout the day. It was almost evening, and there was a coffee break. While I was sipping my favorite black coffee, out of the blue, one young chap came to me and said “Hello Saro! Do you remember me? I’m your friend”. My mind immediately started processing the data “His face is not at all familiar… Where did I meet him? Verizon, Juniper, Cisco… NO… probably, he is my college junior … oh! No… he could be a Toastmaster”. My brain started spinning fast, trying to tap into all of the latest technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Cloud Computing. Nothing helped. Finally, I adopted DTM Lalitha Giridhar’s technique, ‘Hey hero! How are you? Long time no see…’. He smiled and said ‘No Saro! This is the first time we are meeting. I’m your Facebook friend”. I blushed and told him “You resemble my college junior Mahesh”.  Friends, during our networking conversations, we should not pretend that we know someone or something. We should be honest, to gain trust. It’s absolutely fine to admit and say, “Sorry! I don’t recollect where we met”... or “Sorry! I don’t know much about that”. When you pretend that you know, you lose people’s trust. 


Post the coffee break, we had a few tech talks and the conference ended at 5.30 pm. So, what do I want you to take away from my networking experience. I’m sharing my thoughts in the form of a poem. 

It’s easy, to say “Hello”

To break the ice and look wise…so,

Say Hello! Say Hello!

To make the conversations flow...

With a smile that makes you glow … 

Say Hello! Say Hello!

Hide your fears deep below ...

Be the first fellow… to ...

Say Hello! Say Hello!

Keep your trumpet, don’t blow… 

Don’t pretend that you know… Just

Say Hello! Say Hello

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