By Daniel Bloch, Executive Director, Cape SAJBD
“People who are extroverts are typically outgoing, have high self-esteem, are energised by being around other people, are socially confident and enjoy being in large social gatherings or public speaking. They also tend to be sociable and friendly.” (Definition from Google Search)
Throughout my life, I have always considered myself friendly, easy to talk to and sociable. Whilst I could easily stay at home in my pyjamas on these long cold weekends, I do enjoy getting out and spending time with other human beings. I also like to talk a lot, only because I like to share my opinions with others. In my previous career in events management and now within my current community role, having the skill and ability to engage with people, converse on a variety of topics and network constantly, has been and continues to be extremely important.
In my opinion, having the confidence to speak to people is sometimes more important than knowing what you are talking about. For example, when I started working on transport-infrastructure-related events, I had no idea what most of the terminology was or even what to talk about. However, I was comfortable talking to people, reading their body language, assessing their tone of voice, and ultimately making them feel comfortable in my presence. Using these skills, I was able to persuade them to participate in my events. The more meetings and functions I attended, the more knowledge I gained about the industry, and the more confident I became in having in-depth discussions about my clients’ business needs.
Over the past two years, I have learned much about our community as well as our partners and key stakeholders. Coupled with a love of sport and an interest in general knowledge, I have been extremely comfortable in talking with Ambassadors, Consul Generals, religious leaders, government officials, political leaders, international organisations, media and more, covering a variety of topics. Just the other day, I met with the Spanish Consul General and discovered our common interest in football. Despite the fact that he supports Real Madrid and I Manchester United, we were still able to keep the meeting cordial and spent half the time discussing football and the other half discussing business.
Friends and family often ask me why I attend so many “boring” functions. Whether or not AGMs and book launches are exciting, most of the time I am there to support Board partners and affiliates and to network. You cannot simply attend functions which you find entertaining. You have to attend those initiatives which are important to your client or stakeholder as it makes them feel important and shows your commitment to that relationship. In the same way I would watch a series or movie that my wife wants to watch that I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen myself. Sitting on the couch and enjoying each other’s company is more important than the actual movie. (The yummy snacks during the movie are another incentive to watch!)
I really enjoy attending these events as it allows me to learn more about the people, their organisations, their challenges, as well as to identify opportunities for collaboration. In the end, we are all part of one big community and a melting pot of diverse cultures, religions and ethnicities. We are all striving to ensure our communities are inclusive and are able to provide equal opportunities to each and every person. The best way to learn about one another is not by reading the mission statement on a website, but rather by engaging in a face-to-face discussion. And, if you can do so over a glass of wine and a plate of sushi, even better!
• Published in the July 2023 issue – Click here to start reading.
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