Back when Myspace.com was still cool and Tila Tequila still relevant, my online profile consisted of “blingy” graphics and inspirational quotes that served as mantras during my goal-free youth. Sayings that littered my page like “Well behaved women rarely make history” and “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you” are still applicable to my life in some small measure, but the wisdom that comes from experience has unmistakably changed my overall perspective.
For one, I have come to learn that networking in either a social or professional setting, while obviously incredibly important, doesn’t have quite as much value if you have nothing to offer those you encounter. What I mean is: Sure, you can exchange business cards with the best of them, but without a reason to remember you, you’re just another blurred face in the crowd.
As someone who has practically made a living out of meeting new people and encouraging social engagement, the most important advice that I can give to any would-be networking or life-living genius is to stand out and be on top of your game (or at least appear to be).
That being said, I tend to follow a few rules of thumb when it comes to first impressions and building connections. With any luck, my personal pointers will be enough to steer you in the right direction (provided you need any sort of “steering”, of course).
Behold: Step 1.
Believe in yourself.
Of the many pieces of advice I can give to any hopeful social butterfly, believing in yourself is the cheesiest but most basic tip. It’s a sort of “fake it till you make it” state of mind that will motivate you to reach for what you want and what you ultimately feel you deserve. It is an outlook that reflects in the way you present yourself to the people you meet, and therefore in the way that others view you.
There have been many times where I’ve failed miserably and desperately struggled to climb my way back into feeling any remote sense of self confidence. In fact, speaking as someone who has had to grasp for optimism on several occasions and somehow pulled out on top, I can confidently say that this rule has been the key factor to every single one of my success stories.
While some might attribute my triumphs to dumb luck, I tend to credit my achievements to my oftentimes excessive self confidence in the face of adversity. It’s the sort of mental outlook that puts me in a position where I just absolutely refuse to fail. It makes me realize that I am capable of accomplishing and being “so much more”. It is, without a doubt, my secret to winning at life.
Believing in yourself will make you want to succeed.
Believing in yourself will make you strive harder to get what you feel you deserve.
Believing in yourself will put you in the state of mind you need to be in for achieving results.
Ask yourself: How will anybody support me or my cause if I lack confidence and conviction? How will anyone believe in me when I hardly believe in myself?
Your fear and lack of self-assurance will make itself known in the form of whining, complaining that you’re not good enough, and a general air of self doubt and depression. Crying out for help like an emotional teenager will only be tolerated for so long before someone slaps you in the face with a reality check: Your emo bullshit is getting you nowhere.
The more you tell me your life sucks, the more likely I am to believe that your life does, indeed, suck assballs, and it is probably because you are such a mopey crybaby that you are in this terrible position. No one wants someone like that on their team — I know I don’t. So quit whining and start thinking positively!
If you happen to be in a position where believing in yourself is proving difficult to accomplish, turn to the voices of those you respect, admire, and even those you envy. It is important that you rely on the advice of those whose opinions hold value for you. It makes much more sense and is far more effective, for example, to hear a story of struggle and success from somebody you admire, rather than an individual you hold in low regard.
For me, I am lucky enough to live in a city where I am constantly surrounded by successful people with the drive to achieve great things. Of these amazing friends and mentors, the most well liked and respected are those who are eager to share their process, regularly divulge their secrets, and are wise enough to admit their failures.
No truly successful person will ever tell you that they have seen nothing but success on their way to the top. In fact, you really shouldn’t trust anyone who says that if you’re failing, you’re doing something wrong.
The trick is to embrace your failure.
Embrace your failure in such a way that you see it as a growing experience rather than a mistake you’ve made. Learn from the decisions that lead you to this supposed “failure”, then brush it off your shoulder and move forward better prepared, smarter, and well equipped with the knowledge of experience.
More importantly, never allow anyone to tell you who you are, how you should act, or what you should be doing with your life. We all move at different paces, and simply because you are not living your life exactly how someone else deems you should be, this doesn’t mean you are incompetent or inferior in any way. No one but you has the power to make you feel substandard.
Do, however, use negative feedback as fuel for your success. In the words of David Brinkley, “A successful person is the one who can lay a firm foundation from the bricks that others throw at him or her.”
It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.
Believe in yourself, and the rest will follow suit!
Now, I totally realize how long this is getting and understand that many of you have much more important things to do. So I’ve decided to break this topic up into several posts. By the end of it, my hope is that you will have gained a better understanding of how I proceed to network effectively, and will find a way to apply this line of thinking to your own lives. Perhaps you’ll even develop a better method for success (and overall happiness) of your own!
Feel free to share your ideas and tips with me, of course. ;)
Also, please do let me know if this has helped you at all, or if you are interested in reading more! It would be such a shame to write so many pieces on Networking if they aren’t being received well or enjoyed. Leave a comment and share your thoughts!
Always here to dish out your favorite content on the Internet,
XOXO Cheri XOXO
PS. Totally off-topic, but I was just hired on as the West Coast Co-Editor for TheNextWeb.com and must now set about the arduous task of re-illustrating my entire About Me page from scratch. Ha! It feels so good to finally be employed and recognized for both my writing ability, as well as my passion for tech, social media, and gaming. I have never been happier.