Always Be Yourself

So, we’ve told you once or twice that the most important thing you can do when it comes to networking is pretty easy: be yourself.

If you’re a geek, be a geek.

If you’re a sales guy, be a sales guy.

There’s nothing worse than becoming a Fallen Angel, and so why not just own who you are and run with it?

Case in point…

…last weekend, I was out with some friends at a bar (this shocks you mightily, I know) when a early-twenty-something woman walked up to me and announced “HEY! I KNOW YOU!”

“Ooooookay” I replied, “…from where?”

“Didn’t you come to my class at Lawrence Tech and talk about the importance of networking, and you had that Ten Commandments thing…?’

I laughed, and said “Yeah…yeah, that was me.”

“What in the hell are you doing here?!” she asked (it was kind of a dive…okay, no, it’s seriously a dive bar)

I held my beer up in my right hand and said “Why…I’m networking Detroit…one beer at a time, of course!”

She laughed, we chatted, and got some cool feedback about what the class had said about my presentation after I’d left (they liked it) and after a quick “It’s a Small World” moment, off she went.

Oh yes ladies, I’m really bein’ sincere…

However, she was right there at the front table with her friends a few moments later as I proceeded to get up and karaoke The Humpty Dance.

She laughed hysterically, and high-fived me as I put down the mic and walked back to my friends.

Sounds harmless enough, right?

But imagine if I’d shown up to that classroom wearing a three piece suit and tie, preaching about business connections and scoffing about people who don’t take their careers seriously because they hang out in bars.  Or if I’d pretended to be some stuffy, stodgy, takes himself way too seriously guy.

Or…in short…if I wasn’t always just “me”.

I mean, no, I don’t pull out the Groucho Marx glasses in meetings before telling a peer who holds a dissenting opinion to “step off, I’m doin’ the Hump” or anything, but those of you who have seen me in different environments know that I’m essentially the same person whether I’m out with friends or out with coworkers.  There’s no huge personality shift when my wife comes out with me or if she’s home with the kids.  I don’t pretend to be someone that I’m not just because there are different people in the area.

Why?  Mostly because I really genuinely don’t care…but also because it makes my life easier.

I suck at this

I don’t have to remember to be “this” person with “this” crowd and “that” person with “that” crowd.  I don’t have to try and keep up with who knows what about me or what false perceptions I’ve given them during prior meetings.  I don’t have be That Guy who has to remember that he can’t go with his wife to a particular bar to have a happy, pleasant night out because the cute waitress there believes that there are no happy nights out with that story of the impending divorce on the horizon that helped get her into bed (at her place, of course) last week.  I don’t have to be That Guy who tries to desperately keep worlds from colliding because it will all unravel.

Seriously, who in the hell has the energy for all that nonsense?

Plus, I suck at juggling.  So I really don’t want to have to worry about a random chainsaw that I’m trying to keep up in the air taking off a leg.  So no, I don’t care if someone reads a blog entry here on the site and gets pissed off.  No, I don’t care if someone’s out there judging me because I run a group that has networking events in bars every month.  No, I don’t worry about any of those things…

…because that’s who I am.  And if you can’t deal with me as I am…well, screw you, buddy.  Your loss, not mine.

So just be yourself.

That’s all for this time, folks…oh, wait, what?


Of me doing The Humpty Dance?

Yes, it exists.  No, you can’t have it.  Go read something.