I know a woman who can hardly get herself to walk through the doors of a networking function. She stands just on the outside of the event thinking: “ah I’m so nervous. I won’t know anyone. Maybe I should just go home. Why do I keep coming to these things?! I’m too tired to go in anyway. Yes I’ll go home, I’ll just turn around and no one will even know.” But something inside her always pushes her through the doors and puts on her name badge.
Sally is like so many people out there, afraid of what is unknown; however, almost always she leaves feeling excited and refreshed by the interactions she had at the event. There is a reason why, Sally was a part of a team training her company put on where I was the trainer. She spoke up about these pesky stories that go through her head at events that were stopping her from being successful. She quickly learnt that the stories were natural occurrences that happen as her brain is just trying to avoid pain. There is no pain if you just go home and eat ice cream right? But nothing ventured, nothing gained….. So together we gave her new things to think about while the stories ran in the background like clockwork. Sally now consciously thinks about why she is there, what she wants to get out of the event and how she wants to be perceived.
In Sally’s head there is a stream of “I am Sally, I will hold my shoulders back, head high and smile to look open and approachable. I am here to meet potential new clients and I will do this by building trust and rapport through asking questions, showing interest and I will enjoy my time with people I am about to meet.”
How much difference do you think those comments make for Sally?
I can tell you, I have seen her at events now and she really masters the room. Sure the background stories are still playing but she overrides them (even just momentarily to get her through the doors) and she recognises what she has to do to look like what she wants to be. Make sense? She wants to be open and build relationships, so what does this look like to the outside world? Good posture, confidence stride, a smile, warm and soft eye contact and a generous conversation asking questions. So she follows the cues we set. If you have to fake it till you make I say go for it and never let something like the unknown or nerves get in the way of getting what you deserve.
So how do you want to be perceived and what does that look like?