Ever feel like you’re back in 4th grade?
Sometimes when I meet new people, I feel like I’m back in elementary school all over again. It’s gym class and they’re picking teams for dodge ball. I hate dodge ball — not because I actually hate the sport itself but because I hate failing (I’m so not an athlete, even now, with the exception of archery). But even more than failing and being knocked out of the game, I hate being picked last.
That psychological imprint hasn’t faded over the years.
Getting over it meant getting vulnerable.
I recently attended a mastermind retreat and a 3-day business event in Asheville, North Carolina. I’m a total introvert, but I love people — in small settings. Neither was a small setting. Weekend #1 there were over 40 new names and faces. Weekend #2 brought 150 more my way. My inner child totally wanted to have a panic attack and hide in the corner.
Instead, I coaxed her out, gave her a quick pep talk, and reminded her that sometimes, all we need to do is show up and be real.
So I said it to people: “Meeting lots of new people always feels overwhelming to me.” “I was worried I’d be picked last for everything.”
The reality? People get it. So often, they feel the same way, even if they’ve been to events like this before.
Making a good first impression is all about being yourself.
These days, I’ve learned that we need to just show up as ourselves. I attend these business events in dresses and black Timberland boots because that’s just me. I admit when I’m a little bit afraid and I do everything I can to make people around me feel comfortable and heard.
First impressions aren’t about projecting only what you want people to see; they’re not about showing your strengths and hiding your weaknesses.
A good first impression is bringing your whole self to the party. It’s showing your strong and soft sides, being authentic, and creating connections with people.
When we’re authentic, we attract opportunities and create deep relationships.
As Brené Brown writes, “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
I try to do this every day in my life and in my business. Sometimes it’s hard, but it’s always worth it.
What are some things you do to make a good first impression at events? Do you ever have a moment when you want to run away? What do you do to connect with people? I’m curious to hear how other people get themselves ready for big events and meetings.