The next time you’re at a conference, and if you haven’t met me, I want you to try something. The rest of you who don’t intend to meet me, have already met me, or who just want to know what I’m getting at, stay tuned. Here’s the thing: you’ve gotta work on how you present yourself. There’s so much value inside you (okay, MOST of you). You’re really loaded with interesting things, and sure, maybe some of us have to pare down some of what we want to share, but let’s just look at this a moment together. You’ve gotta be sexier in person.
None of this is meant towards any particular person that I’ve met in the last several years. Instead, it’s meant towards me, some of you, and some people I observe in social settings. If you’ve recently met me, I don’t mean you.
If I stopped this post now, that’d be enough. If you don’t present yourself as confident, you’re already off on the wrong foot. It’s that simple. Why? Because I need to believe that you have value as you’re coming up to talk with me at the event. I have to feel that you’re pretty comfy with who you are as a person, and you’re looking to reach out and make new relationships to further develop your capabilities and ideas.
If you don’t have confidence right off, here are some tips: think about the three things that someone who’s really proud of who you are would say about you. Don’t tell ME these things, but have them in your mind. If you’re worried how the other person might receive you, stop. Instead, believe with all your heart that you deserve to be there, that you’re smart, that you are just as important.
And you know what? If the person you’re meeting you, after all that, STILL treats you like crap, then you smile politely, walk away, and flush that out of your head as fast as you can, because it’s definitely not you.
Here’s a spot where pretty much everybody could learn a lesson. I need reminders of this all the time. What happens is something like this: we make connection, we talk with someone we like, and we accidentally worry that the other person won’t know we’re smart, funny, useful, whatever. It’s almost like we’re drowning and we have to say everything, in case we never meet again.
Stay brief. Don’t ramble. Be confident that your small elevator pitch as to who you are, what you’re into, and why you’re happy to connect is enough. Believe with all your heart that you’ll have time to unpack what it is you need to say.
Sometimes, everything goes great, but then people don’t know when to break off the conversation and go meet new folks. Why? Because maybe that’s all there was. If the person wants you to stay, they’ll usually give you indications of that. If they are all done with the conversation, and pay really close attention, they will give body language that says this. Truly. Just keep your eyes open, and you’ll get a sense of when to scram. Don’t scram earlier than that (unless you have to go). That’ll show a lack of confidence.
Some Bonus Round Material
A few more thoughts:
- “What do you do?” isn’t as sexy a question as “what are you working on that’s fun?”
- Yes, your breath matters.
- Dress how you want to be perceived. (I dress in what I call “rockstar casual,” half because I like it, and half because I’m too broke to dress the way I might.
- If you’re not sure what conversation is appropriate, practice with friends ahead of events and gatherings. (I say inappropriate things all the time).
- Remember that there are still boundaries between what’s too personal and what’s not, and yet, please try to be human.
- Remember that conversation is about more than one person. Breathe. Leave room.
What advice to you have? For me, for others? What have you noticed about your fears to meet others, or maybe we should talk about success stories and horror stories?