“Perfect” is something we all strive for. The pursuit of perfection can be interpreted in different ways and often requires faking it until you make it. Personal and professional growth requires listening, learning and practice. Even then, “perfect” is a lofty and somewhat unattainable goal.
Yes, there is pressure to have everything from your elevator pitch to your wardrobe perfected before you go out to face the world, however, being present is where you obtain the information you need to perfect your image and your message.
Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow, sometimes you simply observe…do each with purpose.
I know, all too well, that getting out there is the hardest part. I am no stranger to pressure, I worked in corporate America for years. I managed people, processes, and deadlines; conducted presentations and training classes; pitched new ideas; I even traveled for work…and suddenly I couldn’t make it from the car to the front door for a little casual networking.
I love people and knew there was a need for my services, but I suddenly felt painfully shy. Intimidated by the crowd of confident, successful, highly-esteemed professionals I would encounter, I felt ill-equipped to have the most basic conversation. A dozen or more times I arrived at a networking event only to sit in the car, or walk into a room and try to blend in with the wallpaper. I had to find another way.
As a member of my local Chamber, I had the opportunity to participate on a committee. I found my passion and purpose in our annual scholarship fundraiser. This served my need to be involved and allowed me to be present in a way that was less intimidating. I could observe and follow while building relationships. Now when I walked into a room I knew people, and the number grew at a comfortable pace. Much to my surprise, I learned two important lessons in a short period of time:
Nobody is perfect. Even the professionals I most respect are prone to do and say some of the most unexpected things. A good sense of humor has its advantages. Roll with the punches and accept feedback from the unintended victims of your efforts. You’ll look back later and laugh, even if the memory still makes you cringe, I promise.
Others often see things you can’t see for yourself. Allow yourself to be mentored. Trust the judgment of those you respect and go with it! You never know what you can do until you try.
No longer worried about being perfect, I allowed myself to simply be present. I went from sitting in my car outside of a networking event to modeling in our fashion show, chairing the committee I had dedicated my time and passion to, speaking in front of a large group, serving as president of a well-established networking group and later, elected to the Board of Directors.
Now, when I see someone else feeling a bit uncomfortable, I seek them out and welcome them in.
Twelve years down the road, I don’t know if I’ll ever get that elevator pitch perfected, but I do know that the strong relationships I’ve built are more valuable than anything I could ever say in 30 seconds. Those who know, like, and trust me are my best advocates and, in return, I advocate for them.
Be present and accounted for, you may achieve more than you ever expected, and certainly, something far greater than being “perfect”.Tags: Business Development, Entrepreneur, Networking, Sales