It's your corner bar.
You pop in there at least once a week, almost mindlessly. Sometimes, it's pretty fun. The drinks are decent and the conversation semi-engaging.
And so you keep coming back. Not with a lot of purpose, really. More just out of habit.
BUT THEN THIS ONE DAY... BAM.
The most beautiful stranger on the planet walks in.
You MUST meet her. No no, you must CAPTIVATE her.
You feel sweat beading up on your brow. Your heart begins to race. You scramble to come up with the right plan, the perfect words, the suave sophistication that will surely convince her that you're THE ONE.
And then one of two things happens:
- You panic, sink your head into your Manhattan, and completely squander what could have been an amazing opportunity to score big-time. - OR-
- You quickly and confidently bust out your A-game.
Now let's pretend that the corner bar is LinkedIn.
And let's pretend that the beautiful stranger is someone who very well could be HUGELY influential in your career or job search.
When you get right down to it, the exact same two things could happen when you find this captivating human being on LinkedIn:
You can either bury your head and convince yourself that person is out of your league, or you can rise to the occasion and go for the score.
(I vote go for the score, every time.)
So how can you pull this off -- even when you're dying of nervousness and self-doubt -- without looking like an irritating cheeseball?
- Quickly assemble a game plan. This is a game, people. It's a game. Games need game plans. Think about how YOU would want to be approached if the tables were turned. And then craft a game plan that aligns with that.
- Study your target. You're at an advantage here -- You're not in a bar, you're in front of your computer. Google it up. Study the person of interest - What do they do? What do they like? Who do they know? Find any information and all that may help you decide on a best opening line or best approach, and then ... approach.
- Force yourself to remain calm. You know that phrase "People can smell fear"? Yeah, it's 100% true. They can smell it, taste it, hear it and see it. And it usually doesn't smell, taste, sound or look good. Deploy whatever tactics you need to stay the heck calm. Deep breaths, a glass of wine, yoga, I don't care. Get yourself calm.
- Approach in a likable, genuine and confident manner. Again, how would you want a stranger to approach you on LinkedIn? What bugs you about cold callers? Who do you know that just has the most amazing, genuine and likable style of communicating with others? Answer these questions and weave your responses into your approach. People like genuine and confident people. They gravitate to them. Try to get yourself there.
- Strive to get to first base before you shoot for the home run. If you were that stunning stranger at that corner bar (I know you're that stunning stranger EVERYWHERE you go, puhlease...) , how would you feel if some unknown character came racing right up and asked you for a giant favor? Probably a little weird. Or a lot weird. Same goes for trying to score on LinkedIn. You've got to find ways to build rapport before you go asking for the moon. Make a little small talk, help that person out, make them smile or laugh, WHATEVER. Just don't go for the gusto until you've spent some time on the get to know you part.
This game is not an easy nor a natural one for many of us. I know this. We fear rejection. We're scared. We don't want to do the wrong thing, so we end up doing NO-thing.
But doing nothing gets you nowhere.
Approaching someone with confidence, genuinity and style, on the other hand? Sure, it could get you to that same nowhere. But it also could get you EVERYWHERE.
And isn't EVERYWHERE so much better than nowhere?
You miss 100% of the shots you never take. -- Wayne Gretzky
Take the shot.
Photo: flickr.com creative commons (Kelly Piet)