Do you have the guts to be authentic?
We hear this word everywhere these days, Authentic.
Living authentically. Being our authentic selves. Speaking with authenticity.
What does it look like to be authentic? Or perhaps more importantly, how do we tune-in to when we are not being authentic so we can uncover any insecurities we feel we need to hide behind a mask of inauthenticity? And how does this change the way we network and the connections we make?
Inauthenticity when networking will feel fake. Like we are putting up a false bravado or hiding what we feel we lack. It makes it difficult to connect and creates a wall between us and the outside world.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” - Theodore Roosevelt
I don’t know anyone who doesn't feel inferior and lacking when comparing themselves to others. We feel the need
I’m always on the lookout out for fun and engaging networking events around the city. It’s a great way to meet new and interesting people who are shaking things up in their professions or business start-ups. It’s also a fun way to build new friendships and professional relationships on neutral ground. As an added bonus these events usually involve featured speakers and training so you get the benefit of professional development!
Recently at a networking event I noticed something incredibly frustrating while getting to know new people. It took me three, sometimes four attempts to find out what they did for a living.
Here is how these conversations went:
Me: “What do you do?”
Them: [insert general and vague response here]
Me: “Ok, so what does that mean?”
Them: [insert alternative general and vague response here]
Me: “Alright, so what does a typical day look like for you?” (I’m really trying to get an idea of what this person does and it is not coming through)
Them: [insert example of a typical problem they solve or service they offer]
Eureka! Finally, we were getting somewhere.
This was not only frustrating, but also incredibly confusing. Why were people not being clear about what they do for
"Hello, my name is Lindsay Johnson and I teach people how to network. What do you do?"
I want you to pause and really think about it: what do you do?
When answering this standard question at most networking events what do you say?
“I’m a project manager”
“I’m a financial planner”
“I’m a teacher”
“I’m in communications”
Have you noticed that we associate what we do with who we are? The activities that we do day in and day out to pay our bills have become synonymous with our personal identities.
And while lots of us lead very interesting and even groundbreaking lives, a lot of the time we provide such a boring and non-engaging answer to this rather important question.
If you’ve ever watched someone’s eyes glaze over or head slowly nod as they say “cool” or “that sounds interesting”
Recently a friend and I were at a dinner and book-signing event with a prominent historical author and speaker. I had been to similar events at this particular venue, and in fact had heard this speaker the year previous as well. I spent the evening reconnecting with familiar faces, engaging in heated conversations with unfamiliar faces, and enjoying an evening of laughter, intense discussions, and connectivity with everyone in the room who had been brought together through common interests.
Until…I got caught in the nice trap!
I had inadvertently found myself outside of the conversational loops of which I had come to enjoy, and stuck in a pointless, never ending, and quite frankly inappropriate conversation with a friend of a friend. I was not enjoying it.
But I wanted to be Nice.
To make matters worse, the keynote speaker was not two feet away from me enjoying an after dinner drink and
January is all about setting intentions and resolutions for the year ahead. This is the time of year we start thinking about what we want to do and who we want to become. We start envisioning what those changes will look like and making grand plans for how we’re going to get there. For many of us we are looking for ways to reconnect with old friends or grow our social circles. Professionals and entrepreneurs might be thinking about how they can connect with colleagues or peers as well as develop their customer base and expand their professional networks. Many of us are feeling the urge to connect and grow our circles of influence.
Unfortunately, these ambitious visions and hopes for new connections and renewed friendships quickly fade away. Old habits kick in and we can easily slip back into chilly evenings snuggled up with Netflix or a good book. For others it may come down to a lack of confidence or direction on how to get started. It can feel like we’ve failed before we’ve even started. Or perhaps for some of us, we’ve just bitten off more than we can chew and set our goals - and expectations - too high.
Experts tell us that most new year resolutions have been thrown out of the window by the third week in January.