INSIGHTS (on leadership/self-leadership)
Does anyone really look forward to networking events, like job fairs or industry get-togethers? Many drudgingly go, and then double the pain by not leveraging the chance to network effectively. If you’re going to go – make it count. Here’s how to pitch yourself at a networking event.
1. Be prepared with a clear goal in mind.
You’d be surprised how few are clear on what they really want to achieve at a networking event. That’s an advantage for you. Preparation can be as simple as knowing your audience, having conversation starters ready, and having a few “go to” stories about yourself ready to go.
2. Remember, you’re there to have memorable conversations.
This is as opposed to going with a mindset to just sell, sell, sell yourself. A memorable conversation requires just as much active listening as talking. Be interested too, not just interesting. You can achieve both by selling yourself through the questions you ask. A smart, insightful question can make a more poignant impression than another factoid about yourself.
3. Beforehand, ask, “What do I want the audience to know, and feel, about me?”
I was a recruiting team leader for P&G for a decade, and had many days of interviewing a dozen or more candidates, back-to-back, in the same day. The ones that stood out made me feel something. I remember feeling their warmth, sense of humor, genuineness, and so on.
So, sure, you should be ready to share key facts about yourself and “your story.” But also know what emotion you want to generate. For example, say you’re attending a sales industry event. So you strategize that you want the audience to feel your energy and sincerity, key characteristics for any salesperson. Accordingly, you come ready to amp up those attributes. Creating an emotive connection, a feeling, also makes it easier for any potential employer to visualize you on their team.
4. Mind your visual and verbal cues.
Verbally, watch your “umms” and “likes,” and focus on being concise. Visually, use your Duchenne smile, which is a smile that reaches your eyes, making the corners wrinkle up with crow’s feet. It’s an authentic expression, as opposed to a “polite smile.” Visually show enthusiasm for being at the event, maintain eye contact, uncross your arms, nod, and tilt your head to show you’re listening. Also, engage in mirroring – a technique where you copy the body language, vocal qualities, or attitude of another person to subconsciously form a connection, or bond, with them (known as the Gauchais Reaction). Research shows just how effective this technique is.
IMPERFECTIONS (a mistake I’ve made)
While you admirably give of yourself when people-pleasing, you’re giving away more than you realize. You sacrifice the power of sharing the authentic you. You suppress your voice and what you’re really thinking in a meeting. You avoid confrontation, missing the opportunity to change a situation for the better. To please others, gain approval, and be liked, you say yes to yet another request when inside you’re screaming “Hell, no!” You act like a robotic version of you, not the real version of you.
I’ve been there.
To stop the people-pleasing tendencies, I started repeating one sentence to myself when I could feel my people-pleasing habits surfacing (I share this and more in my popular course, “Ten Habits of Mentally Strong People,” made free for you with this link):
This isn’t a statement of selfishness. It’s a self-reminder to stop trying to be everything for everybody in a bid for acceptance. Start with you, set healthy boundaries, and take care of your needs, first. That way, you stay balanced, energized, and better able to serve others in a more authentic way. And ask yourself if constantly trying to make others happy is really worth sacrificing your own happiness. Again, it doesn’t mean you suddenly become selfish. People-pleasing behavior itself is selfish because you’re doing what’s easiest and are withholding the benefit of your real thoughts and talents.
IMPLEMENTATION (one research-backed strategy, tip, or tool)
I’ve studied high-performing teams, in depth, for several of my books, courses, and publications. One common thread in these superteams – they’re skilled at perseverance. Here are three tips for persevering with your team through adversity:
1) Remember: companies who set the pace in innovation just…keep…going, when others would stop. They celebrate failure, they learn from it, they reiterate, they test again.
2) Remember: the step backward you took is nowhere near the sum total of all the steps you’ve taken that moved you forward. That’s why it’s called a mis-step, not a mis-leap.
3) Remember: life shrinks or expands in proportion to your courage and perseverance.