On Thursday, February 17, the Young Professionals Network (YPN) held the first Professional Development Seminar of 2011 featuring Ellen Valudes, Performance Consultant and Trainer with Dale Carnegie Training. YPN members attended to learn how to connect with others and build stronger relationships.

Ms. Valudes shared ways for us to build trust and rapport in relationships. She asked us to conduct an honest assessment of ourselves and identify a personality trait or feature that prevented us from connecting with people. For me, I can never seem to remember a person’s name that I just met. For others, they tend to dominate the conversation and do not appear genuinely interested in the other person.

Today, we are overwhelmed and sometimes forget the simple, most important thing: a person’s name. According to Dale Carnegie, “A person’s name to them is the sweetest and most important sound to that person.” Ms. Valudes advised that by repeating a person’s name over and over in your head or associating the person’s name and face together, it is easier to recall that person’s name and interests. As a result, a stronger bond and relationship is quickly built. 

To connect with someone, Ms. Valudes encouraged us to change our introductory approach to gain different results. Too often, we do all the talking in a conversation and are not truly listening to what the other person is saying. When initiating a conversation, it is important to be an active listener, ask questions and get the other person talking about themselves. In the workplace, managers often dominate or influence the conversation. When holding a meeting, Ms. Valudes advised asking for employee feedback first and waiting to give your opinion until the end. By creating a higher level of external awareness in the workplace, leaders encourage creativity, head off problems before they occur and create a comfortable working environment. 

After participating in Ms. Valudes’ workshop, I think attendees will be much more cognizant of their shortcomings and actively work on becoming a friendlier, more engaged person. I know I will.

Written by: Alison Hoffman, Xerox Corporation – A sales executive for Xerox Corporation in Philadelphia. She’s been an active YPN member for the past 2 years.