PlaNetworker

Become a PlaNETWORKER at the Fall Conference

by Carina Paton

Pla-Networking

Have you challenged yourself to push past your safety net and graduate from a safety networker to a cabinetworker? At my club meeting this past week, one of my fellow toastmasters beamed with pride as she told us a story of her doing just that.

Normally, when this Toastmaster attends external meetings for work, she sits with others from her organization—keeping well within her safety net. But at the most recent meeting, this Toastmaster built up the courage to sit next to people that she didn’t know, away from her colleagues. Not only that, but this Toastmaster initiated a conversation with one of them, using the tools in her cabinet: she asked this person standard questions about themselves.

To her surprise, the person sitting next to her grew up just 10 minutes away from her parents! Had this Toastmaster not worked up the courage to sit next to this person and strike up a conversation, she would have missed the opportunity to learn of her connection to this person, and they would still be strangers to one another.

My fellow Toastmaster attributed her ability to do this to Toastmasters. It would be an understatement to say that our club is proud of her courage and achievement. This is just one story of many about networking skills growing due to Toastmasters. What is your story so far? What do you want it to be?

The upcoming District 65 Final Fall Conference is an ideal place to continue to build your networking skills. If you are a notworker, aim to be a safety networker at the conference. If you are comfortable in your safety net, aim to be a cabinetworker. If you think you’ve got that down pat, it’s time to move on to the next level: be a planetworker!

Planetworkers use things in the world around them as conversation pieces. The following are just a few of the many items in the environment you can talk about.

Weather and Seasons: This is the classic planetworker go-to.

  • Isn’t this weather beautiful?

  • Do you know if it is supposed to rain all day?

  • Have you had a chance to look at the fall leaves yet this year? Where did you go?

Food and Drink: This is good to use when you are at a catered event.

  • Have you tried the salmon? It’s delicious.

  • What kind of beer do you drink?

  • That looks good. Would you recommend I try it?

Speakers and Program: Good for an event with a set agenda and speakers.

  • What did you think of the keynote address?

  • Which workshop has been your favorite?

  • Which session are you going to next?

Meeting Location: This can be used anywhere, but is particularly good when you’re in a special location.

  • Didn’t they do a wonderful job decorating this room?

  • I’m just amazed by the renovation. Did you see the ceiling in the main foyer?

  • What else should I do while I’m in town?

Note that all are in the form of a question. Questions are wonderful conversation starters – it gives the person that you’re talking to a chance to talk. And we all know that Toastmasters love talking any time they’re given a chance!

What are you waiting for? Sign up for the conference if you haven’t already, and give those networking muscles some exercise. Just like any other form of exercise, it gets easier the more you do it—I promise!