When I first started my networking journey, I constantly heard, Fake it until you make it, Fake it until you make it. I’m sure the people who were telling me this had good intentions. The theory is that if you dress and act the way you plan to dress and act after you actually make it, somehow the transformation would actually occur.
Unfortunately, that’s like painting your turkey brown so it looks like it’s done before it even goes into the oven. While that sounds ridiculous, it’s not to far from what you are doing when you fake a level of success that you haven’t actually achieved.
It’s All About The Process
Here’s the thing. Success is a journey, not a destination. When you try to rush things to become successful faster, you ultimately end up losing. Remember one of the key markers of networking success are the relationships you gain and grow along the way.
The way to gain and grow those relationships is by being your authentic self while you go about your networking. When you try to pretend to be someone else you risk running people away with your pretentiousness. Or worse, you get stuck with a persona that you can no longer change because people have accepted this version of you. If you start over you must start networking at the beginning again.
I know it’s tempting to pretend to be someone you’re not. Fitting in is part of our culture. However, according to sociologist Brene’ Brown, attempting to fit in is actually one of the worst things we can do. If you show up as your real self, and someone doesn’t like you, you can say ok, your loss. However, if you jump through hoops and change your personality to please someone else and they still don’t like you that is much more painful.
Tell The Truth, Even If It Costs You
If you are in a book club and you don’t like the book, you should feel free to tell the group the truth even if everyone else has a different opinion. The number one reason people don’t speak up about their true feelings is because of an innate reluctance to place value on our thoughts and opinions. You have to come to believe that your thoughts and opinions are just as valuable as anyone else’s.
Think about this. Every group you’ve ever been a part of, large or small, started with just one person. That person then went about sharing his or her idea until others, like yourself, also joined. Sometimes we talk ourselves out of starting our own group. We believe that we don’t have enough charisma or courage to get people to follow us. Hogwash!!
When you show up as your authentic self consistently every time you go out networking, you’ll be surprised at the number of people who will approach you and tell you that your words speak to them directly.