By: Heather Bruner Director of Stewardship of Family and Children’s Place

‘Yo bestie!  I just met your prom date lolololol’

I sent that text to my best friend the morning of June 23 while attending Communication for the Digital Age, the second workshop in the YPAL Excelerate series. 

As young professionals working to develop our skills and advance our careers, we often feel like masters of communication – there was never a time where we didn’t have dozens of mediums to send our words through.  We text, gchat, message, blog, snap, post, comment, email, and occasionally even make phone calls (though usually just to check in with grandma).  But, sometimes in work force, we are selling ourselves short.  While this Excelerate program touched on all aspects of communication including the written word and social media branding, the most interesting part, to me, was the study of how we communicate face-to-face. 

A lot of our jobs depend on our ability to chat up potential clients, investors, or partners.  We do this all day long.  It only took about two minutes of ‘practice networking’ with a stranger for me to find out that he not only knew my best friend but he was her date for that fancy rite of passage that is the Senior prom.  

However naturally networking may or may not come, this Excelerate workshop taught the science behind these interactions, and I’d like to share a few today:

1.  What is the proper length of time for a handshake?  One second is too short, but four seconds is too long. 

2.  Emphasize you last name when introducing your self – Hi, I’m Heather BRUNER!  It prevents you from sounding mumbled, and it helps the other person to hear it correctly the first time.

3.  Play a word association game with the names of people you meet to help you remember better:  Denise from Des Moines, Tall Paul, Katie from Humana has a really good tan-a.

4.  Move the conversation along by using the improv strategy of always saying ‘Yes, and…’  This will make you seem positive, engaged, and interesting (even if you are not). 

And, most importantly:

5.  Practice your exit strategies!  Whether it’s passing off an obnoxious person to co-worker or excusing yourself to go get a drink, be prepared and confident to ditch an awkward conversation so that you are making the most of your time.  No one should have to waste their valuable time hearing Debbie Downer discuss her cat’s nasty skin condition (whaa, whaaaaa).

About Excelerate:
YPAL’s quarterly Excelerate development programs provide young professionals with opportunities to develop the practical and professional skills needed to succeed in the workplace. The next Excelerate workshop will be on Thursday, September 15, 2016. Registration opens soon!