Fake It or Be Yourself?

Years ago I heard a great story about networking. It came from an investor who had a different strategy than most. He was part of a delegation of US businessmen who were going to travel to Japan to setup new business relationships. Most of them attended a class where they learned about Japanese customs, etiquette and manners. They learned how to bow, how to present their business cards with two hands and a shallow nod, how to toast sake wine, etc.  The investor ignored these classes. He went out and purchased a giant box of big cowboy hats and took it with him to Japan. While all the others were busy trying to act like good Japanese, he would reach into his box, grab a cowboy hat, stuff it over the ears of the little Japanese businessman, grab his hand and shake him like a tree branch while exclaiming loudly “Howdy there Pardner! Niiice to meet ya’ll!”.  Guess who came home from the trip with the most business?  Guess whom the Japanese businessmen probably still remember?

Dare to be yourself. Sometimes we are so intent on pleasing the people we meet that we forget to be who we are. Good networking skills involve being very specific, clear and intentional in how you present yourself or your business, but mostly it involves being yourself.

I do a lot of work with entrepreneurs where we seek to clarify their message. We work in order to develop a brief Elevator Pitch message that is easy to remember yet addresses the specific wants of the investors or business partners they seek. Note that I say “want”, and not “need”. We buy our wants, not always our needs. For example, I need basic car transportation, but I really want a shiny little sports car. Communicating who you are in a manner that touches on the wants of your audience will help you improve your networking tremendously.

I met another person who introduced himself as a detective. Since he did not say anything more, I was puzzled. I asked what kind of detective. He answered “an existential detective”. I was even more puzzled. I asked how that could be. OK, he smiled and told me he was a priest and that his job was to help people find answers to life’s big existential questions. To this day I have forgotten the names of many other priests yet I still remember this one. Find a way to present yourself that helps others to remember you and to easily understand what you do, who you are and what you are looking for.

And have some fun too!

Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.  ~Judy Garland

Want to turn-around your business and achieve results in record time? Contact me to discuss Executive Coaching, Group Facilitation and Management for Hire services for technology companies. You can learn more at www.ricksalmon.comwww.xelerator.com and at www.e-unlimited.com.

Rick Salmon is an energetic entrepreneur who lives in Norway and believes that European startup companies can succeed and grow quickly if only they get the proper help and assistance. Subscribe to this newsletter/blog to receive frequent updates and tips.

One Reply to “Fake It or Be Yourself?”

  1. Great story 😉 I just wrote a technical note on networking – I will forward you a draft and would love your input, ideas and maybe even borrow your Japanese trip story!

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