The Jersey Initiative

No, this has nothing to do with gym, tan and laundry.

Nor does a pregnant ewok named Snooki factor into the equation in any capacity.

What it does have to deal with is something that I do when I go somewhere unfamiliar to me, and something that I guess I was doing subconsciously.

But now that I’ve thought about it…maybe this networking thing really does come naturally to me after all…and maybe there’s a lesson in here for you somewhere.

I went to a developer day yesterday (no, I won’t really be getting into that here…I’ll save that for another time), one of those all-day things.

Got up, got ready, threw on jeans…and a Red Wings jersey.  My Lidstrom one, to be specific.

I really didn’t think about it too much…it’s kind of a reflex.

No need to head into the office.  Going to an off-site.  Casual dress.

That means “Wings jersey”.

It happened yesterday with the thing.  Same thing happened when I went to TedX.  Same thing has happened…well, lots of times, once I started thinking about it.

But why is it a reflex to pull on a Wings jersey instead of, say, a Hawaiian shirt?  I have some cool Hawaiian shirts.  Some are even from a trip to Hawaii.

Well…now I think I know why I do it.

Over the course of the day yesterday, every single person came up and talked to me.  All of them.  Smoking area.  Lunch break.  Grabbing a soda or a coffee refill.

And every single conversation started the same way: “Hey…so how do you think the Wings will do in the playoffs this year?”

So I thought back to those other events – yep, same conversation starter every time.

It’s my “in”.  My “ice breaker”, if you’ll pardon the pun, for when I’m on unfamiliar ground and looking to meet new people.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should all run out and start wearing Red Wings jerseys at random events.  That’s my thing, stop it.

Be “you”.  Be unique.

Have a conversation starter of your own…or get good at noticing conversation starters that other people are exhibiting and building off of them.

Especially if you’re not particularly comfortable approaching people and starting a conversation, having something visible that will draw them to you works well.  Even if it’s something like an interesting looking drink (a properly made tequila sunrise never fails to get a second glance) that will get people asking what you’re having…well, at least the conversation’s started, right?


And that’s half the battle right there.