Octoberís eview responded to esteemed philosopher and writer Woody Allenís observation, "Eighty percent of success is showing up." Hereís part two of what the other 20 percent might look like:
Talk to people. In some circles, they call talking to people networking. Whatever you want to call it, itís good for you. Itís about expanding your network, meeting people that you can give to and hopefully get something back from. Talk to people when youíre waiting on line or sitting on a plane or getting a take out sandwich in the cafeteria. Stay in touch with people you admire and when itís appropriate, let them know in writing how theyíve inspired you. Expanding your network of friends and colleagues is as easy as "talking."
Donít be hard on yourself. Learn to laugh at yourself. Learn to laugh at life! I canít remember the names of the people I worked with twenty years ago yet I know at the time their behavior drove me nuts. When youíre laying the groundwork and planting the seeds for a great career, you have to expect to turn over some rocks.
Make others feel important. Listen to people. When you pay attention, you stop talking and when you stop talking, you engage with others. When someone is speaking to you, donít multitask. Look at the person speaking to you with interest. Try to see a different point of view.
Ask for what you want. In D.V., the biography of fashion editor Diana Vreeland, author George Plimpton asked Ms. Vreeland how she won the Legion of Honor, one of the highest decorations awarded by France. Her reply, "I asked for it." People cannot read your mind nor are they thinking about your needs and goals. So if thereís something that you want, whether itís a promotion, more money or more responsibility, talk about it. And make sure you make a request from someone whoís in the position to grant it.
Improve your small talk. Stop waiting for someone to start a conversation and learn to do it yourself. The first trick is to spot someone standing alone. Walk over with a big smile and a warm handshake. Ask questions and wait for an answer. Smile with assurance that you wonít be bolting the minute you spot someone you know. Talk about neutral topics Ė sports, current events, movies. Stay positive. Small talk is meant to handle the void, not to solve the current oil crisis.
Surround yourself with positive, supportive people. Whether youíre working your way to the top or trying to maintain a happy disposition, itís important to have people who believe in you. If your friends are negative and hypercritical, avoid spending time with them. It may not be possible to figure out why theyíre negative and hypercritical. Leave that to their analysts. Judge your relationships against this standard: Do you feel better or worse when youíre around the people in your life? A healthy, nurturing relationship brings out the best not the beast in you.