Why is it that even when you deliver a well-planned message about yourself, and really listen to what others have to say, networking doesn’t always give you what you’re looking for? If you’ve worked hard to create win-for-all relationships while networking and this is still happening to you, consider the following: Sometimes, it’s as simple as your voice.
Voice isn’t just pitch and tone; it’s also a direct reflection of who you are. When your voice isn’t congruent with who you are – or what you’re are saying – it can distract or dissuade others from listening to you. Luckily, there are ways to make sure that your voice (tone, spoken word and all) is working for you, not against you. I am not talking about training your voice to make you sound like someone else…I am talking about discovering your voice and speaking through it and from it.
My favorite expert on the topic of voice is April Sotura, owner of “Voicing Self”. April has been working in this field for over 25 years and has provided vocal coaching for business professionals, artists, speakers, scholars, writers, and musicians all over the world.
I absolutely love what she has to say on this topic, below. Although she’s referencing speakers in general, this can absolutely apply to speaking and voice in a networking environment. (Think of your “audience” as the individual or small group you might be conversing with at such an event.)
“….You have gained authority and passion in your life and your work! Yet when you stand up to speak before an audience your mind is numb, your limbs are leaden, and your own voice sounds to you like it belongs to someone else. You might ask yourself, who is that masked speaker?
…Think of it this way, an audience responds to congruency. This includes your content, your gestures and body language, and the quality of your vocal tone. The more comfortable you are in your own skin, the more comfortable and receptive your audience becomes. The sweet truth is that human beings are hard wired to seek congruency and meaning.”
I’ve been in networking situations where try as I might, I struggled to stay focused on the person talking to me. Something about their voice sounded forced, or just didn’t correlate with what she/he was saying. This is not the ideal situation to find yourself in while trying to establish new connections!
If you’ve tried every other networking tip in the books and you’re still not getting the results you want, start to be more cognizant of your voice. And, if you get serious about doing this, I strongly recommend that you work with someone like April Sotura because these professionals provide that trained, outside ear. At the very least, start asking people you trust for help. Even non-professional feedback can give you insights into your tone and speaking voice. Who knows—that feedback might be the missing ingredient in your networking strategy!
April Sotura can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and at (206) 512 4727.