Monday, August 1, 2011

Do you know how to stand out from the crowd?

Please welcome Walethia Aquil to my Blog. Walethia Aquil, coach, author, speaker, and entrepreneur, is the founder of Grace and Charm, a consulting company that features 30 unique training programs to improve organizational and personal behavior, business and social graces, and effective team building. Grace and Charm’s mission is to help “entrepreneurs move from invisible to impeccable,” and the company provides executives, entrepreneurs, public figures, and individuals with the skills, training, and resources to ensure that their image does not distract from their productiveness. Walethia worked at General Motors prior to starting her own company, is an inspiration to countless non-profits, and also hosts the “Success with Grace and Charm” radio show on BlogTalkRadio every Tuesday at 2pm EST.

Question: What is the history behind your company?

WALETHIA AQUIL: When I was growing up, my family did not have a lot of resources, and I was terribly shy and insecure as a child and as a young adult. Late in life, I realized that my shyness and insecurities were hampering my professional and social development. In my youth, after my first school dance, I walked into a restaurant and sat down at a table with silverware and china, and I knew I was out of my element. I made a decision then and there that I would never feel embarrassed again. If I struggled with social skills and self-esteem, I knew others did as well. Today, because the market is overcrowded and highly competitive, no one will tell you why you didn’t get a promotion, why you were unable to close a deal, or why you’re not invited to social events. This is how Grace and Charm started, as a result of my own experiences.

Question: What does your tagline mean to you: “Become More Charming, Persuasive and Memorable?”

WALETHIA AQUIL: In today’s competitive market, it is very important to stand out. Your image, your etiquette, your communication and interpersonal skills play a major role in the amount of money you earn, who comprises your circle of influence, the quality of your relationships, and the opportunities that are open to you. Also, your ability to get along with others is just as important as having technical and professional skills because 85% of success in business and social relationships is based on your “people skills.” So, having a polished image is vital to your success. A potential customer or client will, within seconds, determine if you are trustworthy. So, when you look polished and professional from head to toe, your credibility is undeniable and trust in you increases.

Question: What are the results of developing one's social skills?

WALETHIA AQUIL: Developing your social skills will increase your earning potential by opening doors of opportunity, enhancing your relationships, attracting better and higher paying customers or clients, increasing your self-esteem, and positioning you to attain power and influence. It is more important than ever before to build relationships, and the quickest and most effective way is to create what I call, “Relationship Currency.” To explain it simply, relationship currency is a resource – giving to others. Relationship currency can catapult your business or career to the next level because others will see you as approachable. The result will yield a more extensive network. The development of one’s social skills will change a person’s mindset from “what’s in it for me” to “how can I serve others and add value.”

Question: Some men may disagree with your business model, so how do you convince men (as well as some women) about the value of what you teach?

WALETHIA AQUIL: This is a very good question. Success in any industry relies on relationships, whether with co-workers, clients, suppliers, or investors. When you’re well-mannered and courteous in dealing with others, you create engaging, productive, and long-term business relationships. As such, it is important to learn not just the technical side of a business, but how to conduct oneself in the company of others. It has been my experience that the men and women who seek my services understand the benefits of having superior social skills and a polished image.

Question: What is the best way to overcome anxiety created by giving presentations?

WALETHIA AQUIL: Well, I always have butterflies when I’m preparing to speak. But as Mark Twain said, “There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars.” So, my secrets would have to be preparation, preparation, and more preparation. Acknowledge fear because it is normal. Dress comfortably – but I suggest dressing a level above the audience because you are the authority, the star, the speaker. Arrive early so that you can become familiar with the environment and any technical equipment that will be part of the presentation. Know your audience: who are they, what is their knowledge of your topic, how many will be in attendance, etc. If it is appropriate, greet members of the audience and introduce yourself as they enter the room. During your presentation, make eye contact with your new friends – this will ease the butterflies. Most importantly, smile and have fun.

Question: What is the best preparation for a networking event, and how do you recommend someone should “work the room?”

WALETHIA AQUIL: The best advice I can offer is to move outside your comfort zone. The best network and the most effective network is one that is diverse. Here are three tips that will help a person gain control of a room and command the attention of others:

[1] Smile and make eye contact – successful and confident people make direct eye contact, and a smile breaks down barriers.

[2] Have an attitude of gratefulness – when you are grateful, you radiate positive energy, and people are drawn to those who are positive.

[3] Abide by the three-second rule – acknowledge someone you don’t know, and within three seconds walk over and introduce yourself.

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