- You are at a networking meeting or a social function and someone asks, ‘what do you do?’ The music in your head plays, ‘DOM DOM DOM.’
You grimace. Your stomach ties itself into a sailor’s knot. Time seems to have slowed down and now you have cotton mouth. It is difficult to exude confidence when you have only a half of a sound bite to keep the asker’s attention.
It is not that you don’t know ‘what’ you do, but most people have generic titles (lawyer, doctor, assistant). Most people haven’t met any astronauts…so the listener hears your title, filters it and replies with, “oh” or “that’s cool/nice.” They assume they know what your genius entails. Rarely, do they ask follow up questions. This is not to be rude, but they don’t want to be bored with your explanation, they believe they have heard it ALL before.
Back to your cotton mouth, you are afraid of saying too much or appearing boastful. The truth is that rock stars in their industries are rock stars because they stand away from the herd. Herds are only noticed so that you can get out of their way. A rock star stands a certain kinda way and all the details are noticed. We drink them in with intrigue, we think they are interesting.
How to be authentic and your own rock star?
Don’t take the question SO seriously, it is not final Jeopardy with the clock is winding down. Take a breath.
Reframe the question: Why do I do what I do? or What is your mission? This is a deeper cut of the question AND makes it authentic because it is personal.
Instant unique story = DOPENESS.
Take the opportunity to stand IN your why, practice understanding and affirming yourself. This inevitably grows your confidence muscles.
I have shared this tip with many of my clients, who usually tighten up even though the question may/may not have been asked. Now, that they have this reframe they are able to speak from their true selves and ease into the conversation.
Choose to see networking as an opportunity to affirm who you are to yourself. There are several bonuses in this:
- You get to practice stating who you are and why you do it. (If this doesn’t jazz you, then reevaluate your why.)
- The listener gets a bird’s eye view into your world and how YOU do it. They get to raise their hand, if it is a match for them AND may be a great referral for you later. (Generic people don’t get awesome referrals. Just saying.)
- It takes the pressure off of you trying to say the ‘right’ thing for them to work with you. What is for you is for you, let it be as easy and as fun as possible. If you are ‘ON’, you are not being real and you are not client attractive for anyone.
- Besides, remember your inner rock star: they do their art/craft. Whoever doesn’t dig it…it isn’t for them. They don’t change their music, they keep going.
If you make these simple tweaks, imagine how different the networking experience will feel for you. You can chart your own path, in your unique way instead of the good ole boys’ way. It is best that a client knows who you are from the onset. It is less work and more ease for you in the long and the short run