Susan RoAne, Connection and Communication Expert
You speak and write about savvy socializing and networking. Why is this skill so critical to success, both personally and professionally?
Networking is a mutually beneficial process whereby we SHARE ideas, support, leads, information and, if we are lucky, laughter. Whether we call it networking or “Living our lives,” this “sharing” is the fabric of life. It’s what we learned in 5th grade science class: Interdependence; a fact of life. Being able to connect with people, connect and introduce people to each other, follow up in a timely fashion is critical to our success and the reputations we have.
HOW we comport ourselves through this life process is what draws people to us—or repels them. Do we show interest, offer support, acknowledge, praise, listen, compliment, stay in touch? The problem is that some people use the term “networking” as a cover for behaviors that are none of the above.
Savvy socializers make people comfortable with them, have a good grasp on manners, would never embarrass someone and never make fun of people under the “just joking” excuse. They are mingling magnets who people want to meet, be around and refer to others. The people who live healthy, happy lives are those who have social circles, friends, associates, relatives and they are involved.
When it comes to women in midlife, what do you see as their greatest challenges? Greatest opportunities?
One of the big challenges is the amount of pulls and tugs at our time and energy that distract us from what we deem most important. And this “achieving balance” goal is basic hogwash. When a child or parent is sick, there’s no balance. When a pipe breaks and we are surrounded by a flood in the kitchen or bathroom, there’s no balance. That’s a silly/unrealistic expectation.
Let’s focus on FOCUS; on what’s important AT THAT MOMENT.
There are so many opportunities to be involved in the community, the neighborhood. I saw Michael Moore’s one man show and happened to attend the last performance. The woman who started and organized the group that spoke up about Flint’s water was in the audience. He invited her to stand up and we applauded her. He said, “One person makes a difference.” She was the one…we can be too.
What are some of your top tips for women seeking to make a positive impression when meeting people?
Always prepare a self-introduction that is 7-9 seconds and linked to the event. Dress appropriately for the event and lean into conversations as that reflects a welcoming attitude and interest. Attend every event, meeting, gathering with the attitude: “I wonder who I GET to meet” instead of the Debbie Downer… “Geez I wonder who I HAVE to meet”.
Flash a warm, full winsome smile as it’s inviting and makes us approachable. Offer a firm handshake as a greeting. Bring cards to follow up a conversation, not precede it.
Do not arrive late. Do not single out the MUST-MEETS; be nice to everyone!
What are some of your favorite resources on improving communication?
Diana Booher’s books are a treasure trove:
Communicate Like a Leader: Connecting Strategically to Coach, Inspire, and Get Things Done
Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think, and Act Like a Leader
What More Can I Say?: Why Communication Fails and What to Do About It
Other favorites include Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One by Jenny Blake and Entrepreneurial You: Monetize Your Expertise, Create Multiple Income Streams, and Thrive by Dorie Clark
To be able to hold our own in conversation, we should be watching and listening to the news, know what’s going on in our cities (READ the local paper). Pick and choose from the thousands of podcasts that are of interest and some that talk about validated news (not fakes). Online, I read the NY Times and Washington Post; in print, I read the San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Marin Independent Journal, Axios, Politico, The Week, and more.
If someone mentions an event, movie, game, person, book, restaurant I don’t know, I have a timesaving technique I’ve used for decades: “Oh, I’m unfamiliar. Please fill me in.” That way I get to learn, listen, engage.
My own What Do I Say Next?: Talking Your Way to Business and Social Successis the best book on how we converse and communicate. It’s clear, direct, and adds the what NOT to do or say.
Connect with Susan RoAne
How to Work a Room, 25th Anniversary Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Making Lasting Connections–In Person and Online
Face to Face: How to Reclaim the Personal Touch in a Digital World
What Do I Say Next?: Talking Your Way to Business and Social Success
The Secrets of Savvy Networking: How to Make the Best Connections for Business and Personal Success
How to Create Your Own Luck: The “You Never Know” Approach to Networking, Taking Chances, and Opening Yourself to Opportunity
RoAne’s Rules: How to Make the Right Impression: What to Say and How to Say It
Named as one of Forbes.com top 25 Networking Experts to Follow, Susan RoAne is the perfect kickoff speaker to set the tone for any meeting or conference where making contacts, having conversations and creating connections count.
Susan, known as “The Mingling Maven®,” leads a double life as a bestselling author and a sought-after keynote speaker. She gives multi-generational audiences the required tools, techniques and strategies they need to connect and communicate in today’s global business world. Her practical, informative, and very interactive presentations are known for what The San Francisco Chronicle calls her “dynamite sense of humor.”
Identified as thought leader on face to face communication by the Economist Intelligence Group, her ideas, tips and suggestions are featured in the media around the world – online, on air and in print. Including: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian UK, The Washington Post, Buzzfeed, Chicago Tribune, , Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Forbes.com, The BBC, US News and World Report, The San Francisco Chronicle and Huffington Post.
Susan has appeared on CNN, NBC11, BBC, CBC, NPR, The Today Show of Australia and radio, podcasts and TV stations throughout the country and the world.
A former public school teacher in both her hometown of Chicago and her current home in San Francisco, Susan also guest lectures at major universities including: University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, University of Maryland, San Francisco State University, University of Chicago-Booth School, University of Texas Law School, University of Illinois MBA Program and Stanford University and Yale School of Public Health.
She has spoken for clients that include Coca Cola Women’s Leadership, Kraft Foods, Office Depot, United Health Group, The US Air Force, Latham and Watkins, LLC, Ernst and Young, Boeing, Bank of America, PA Consulting (UK), Oracle Users Groups, Hershey Foods, Technology and Manufacturing Association of Illinois, Kaiser Health and Association of Healthcare Philanthropy.
She received her Master’s Degree from San Francisco State University and her Bachelors from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. She is a FIGHTING ILLINI.
Susan lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is a fan of San Francisco Ballet, San Francisco Giants (and her hometown Cubs) and the Golden State Warriors.