Listen up, it’s easy to make friends…

Listen up, it’s easy to make friends…

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Wednesday, June 05, 2013

If you’re an expat, it’s likely you had to make some new friends when you moved to the UAE.

And how did you go about it? Thrust your business card at them and explain how fantastic you are? Or did you pay more attention to your social skills to guarantee potential pals were eating out of the palm of your hand?

Making new friends and networking need not be difficult, explains bestselling author Doctor Ivan Misner, known as the ‘father of modern-day networking’, who was in the UAE this week to host a seminar. According to Dr Misner, it doesn’t take charm, complicated techniques or even a good sense of humour to reel in new mates – just the ability to empathise.

  1.  Making new friends and networking need not be difficult, explains bestselling author Doctor Ivan Misner

    Making new friends and networking need not be difficult, explains bestselling author Doctor Ivan Misner

He explains: “Taking a positive interest in others is a good place to start. “Understanding their culture through research is important – knowing the dos and don’ts. Not making judgment and respecting them for what they are and where they come from is important.”

Explaining how ‘investing the time required’ in making a new friend or contact is crucial, the founder and chairman of the Business Networking Institute (BNI) says there’s a key point to remember: “It’s not only about you – it’s more about them.”

Dr Misner adds: “You may have an interest to build a meaningful relationship but they should have the same objective. It’s about mutual benefit. The common mistake people make is that they talk more then they listen.

“To be an effective networker requires you to ask the right questions and then listen. Listen. Ask more. Listen. When you’ve explored enough, you will have the opportunity to help and serve. Most people end up talking about themselves – let’s face it, we all love it! It feels good, but you realise later you never really got to know the other person.

“With any relationship, personal or professional, for it to be sustainable in the long run, there has to be a foundation based on common values, interests and, of course, trust. To get the best results requires effort, starting with a bit of research on what’s happening where, who goes there and so on. Take time in getting to know the other person. Ask questions. Find out about their goals in life. What is it that they aspire to? How can you help them?”

Dr Misner, who was talking to UAE members of the BNI at a seminar in Dubai yesterday, has in the past been labelled a ‘networking guru’ and is widely recognised as helping to change the way business is done around the world.

The American believes being good at networking benefits every aspect of your life. He adds: “A skilled networker has the ability to build social capital wealth, which can benefit him or her on all fronts. Think of the successful people around you – you’ll normally find that they are resourceful. They have good strong diverse networks and they are able to leverage these relationships in so many ways. Their personal lives and professional lives are in harmony, and at many times will overlap. I met my wife through my business and here we are 24 years later.”

For more info on Dr Misner’s work, visit


You’re at a party or social gathering and want to join a conversation. How do you go about it? Dash in with more front than Ron Burgundy (right), or work out whether you’d be a welcome addition to the discussion?

Dr Misner says it’s easy to work out when it’s appropriate to interject. He explains: “In my book ‘Networking Like a Pro’, I talk about body language and how you can gauge through body language whether you should approach someone. If two or three people are standing in a ‘closed 2/3’, meaning they’re facing each other [face-to-face] and deep in conversation, you will not be appreciated if you tried to approach this group.

“However, if you find people in conversation standing side by side, facing each other at an angle, their body language suggests they are subconsciously ‘open’ to being approached. If you find someone is standing alone, making eye contact is essential before approaching. Your intuition will tell you whether to approach them or not.” Good luck!

Pauline Penner Workshops - series 2


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