A few weeks ago I gave a different kind of presentation to what I’m used to giving. It was to a room full of young professionals from all kinds of industries. Not a marketing group or even people who’s careers had anything to do with marketing. The event was through a group called NetSAP, which brings together south asian professionals for "networking" (which really meant equal parts networking for business and networking for relationships and dating). My session was all about networking effectively, a tough topic in this crowd of twenty-somethings because they have likely heard all kinds of advice like this before. Imagine speaking to a group like this. What advice would you give? How would you do something that was immediately useful and different? I love speaking at events like this because it is a challenge to think beyond using the same ten slides on powerpoint or canned presentation. I had no PPT for it.
Instead I started with a video of a young boy on the streets of India that I have blogged about before who has learned more than a dozen languages just to be able to sell a peacock feather fan to tourists. From there, my main aim was to challenge the common wisdom about the need to have a "type-A personality" in order to network successfully. My point was that the "A" in this case should stand for "approachability" and so I talked about putting yourself into positions and having an attitude where you make it ok for people to talk to you … something too many of us forget. As I head into many events this fall, I intended to remember my own advice, so if you will be in any of the cities listed on my events page, please do come up and introduce yourself, and I’ll promise to bring my real type-A personality and be approachable.