Let’s say for a moment you could be a unicorn. What would your day be like? Are you picturing rainbows and sunny skies? More likely, you’d spend your day hearing, “Wow! A unicorn. I’ve never met a unicorn. What’s it like to…” followed by lots of curious questions.
Many of us have had this experience. We’ve walked into a room of strangers feeling awkward and out of place. We’ve regarded ourselves like we’re the “only ____” in the room, different from everyone else in some vital way. We are momentarily grateful when a stranger approaches us and begins a conversation. We’ve been saved from standing by ourselves! We start to second guess how fortunate we are when out of the gate. One of their first comments is…
• “Wow! You’re so tall. How tall are you?”
• “Your hair is so… can I touch it?” [Hand already entangled in your hair]
• “You’ve got such great skin. Beautiful mocha color. So lucky.”
• “I’ve never heard of anyone with your name. So exotic.”
These all seem like compliments, but they call out differences in practice. The result is you are more likely to feel “othered” than welcomed, especially if the feature (height, hair, skin color, accent, name) that they just commented on is the same feature that always gets commented on by strangers.
If you were a unicorn, you’d have people touching your horn all the time without more than a cursory request for permission. It doesn’t even have to be a rare feature for someone to want to move into your personal space. This touching without permission happens to pregnant women quite often, and pregnancy is far from rare – or we wouldn’t all be here.
If you were a unicorn, people would ask, “Where are you from?” And when you answered New Jersey, they’d say no, where are your parents from? You’d reply, “Oh, they’re from California and Texas.” But what they’re asking is where did your family emigrate from. This is not something you’d think to ask a person who wasn’t a unicorn and didn’t in some way stand out because of their difference.
Maybe the way you’ve experienced this hasn’t been quite so overt. Perhaps you tend to share many features with other people in the room, so your differences don’t stand out quite so much. It may then be jarring to learn that these conversation starters aren’t compliments. A compliment is when you say something nice about someone else's choice to feature. For example, the answer to any of the below observations can be a sincere “thank you,” and the conversation is off to an upbeat start.
• “I love the color of your jacket!”
• “Your necklace is beautiful. Did you get it while traveling?”
• “You’ve got great style. Where do you shop?”
• “Those frames look great on you.”
These are different than the first examples because the comment is about something chosen, rather than a curious comment or question based on who we are. We don’t choose our height, skin color, accent, or other features that make all of us unique.
Before uttering the first thought that comes into your head when meeting someone, check first to be sure you’re not asking merely out of curiosity. That usually means you’ve noticed something different about the person in front of you, and you’re about to hone in on that difference by asking about it. Since that likely happens to this person all day, every day, they’ll give you a pat answer that likely won’t lead to further discussion. You won’t make a tremendous or long-lasting impression, and you’ll miss the opportunity to engage with them.
Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Remember that there have been times when you’ve felt like the “only ____” in the room. What has made you feel welcomed into new spaces?
My preferred opening line is “Hi, my name is Robbie.” I usually follow up by asking someone how they heard about the event. This allows them to share a bit of themselves. I try to avoid the ubiquitous “What do you do?” question since it tends to restrict the conversation to whatever is printed on their business card.
It’s also not a great idea to assume everyone is employed or loves their job. Those curious questions that came to mind right away will need to wait until we’ve become friends and I’m ready to share about my differences too. Then it will feel like we’re deepening our relationship and not just being curious in a “Wow! You’re a unicorn. I’ve never met a unicorn.” kind of way.
As a queer, transgender man who has had all of his identities questioned and experienced the blur of both gender and race, I know what it feels like to be a unicorn. The good and the bad.
ABOUT ROBBIE: www.robbiesamuels.com/about
Business Growth Strategy Coach
Robbie coaches inspiring entrepreneurial women in their 50s and beyond (and a few awesome men) to grow their impact and income by building an audience before launching new revenue streams.
WHO YOU ARE:
You want to have a greater impact and increased income. The problem is that there are so many options for how to build your business that you can feel stuck, overwhelmed, and like you’re running out of time.
The reason options are overwhelming is that you’re looking at them as a series of disconnected steps when to make the most of your time, you need a strategy that connects only the most important and highest impact ones.
You know that if you try to do everything, you’ll accomplish nothing. This means, to achieve your goal, you have to invest in a strategy to put time on your side.
WAYS ROBBIE OFFERS SUPPORT:
As a relationship-based business growth strategist, Robbie will work with you one-on-one to design a year-long plan that consists of three 12-week sprints, each followed by 4 weeks of reflection/assessment, rejuvenation, learning, and strategic planning. This will allow you to sequence your goals, create momentum, and leverage your limited time.
Have a project that you want feedback on or need assistance with a specific strategy? He offers half-day strategy sessions.
Already selling but feeling stuck around how to increase your revenue? Sign up for a one-day mastermind with fellow entrepreneurs to break through to the next level.
Ready to dig into your network to validate a solution you’ve been working on to see if you can build an audience for it before launching? Sign up for 12 Weeks to Create Your Irresistible Offer program.
Want accountability, support, and guidance as you implement your strategic plan? Learn more about his year-long Wake Up Your Network mastermind program.
These are not right for everyone; they're personalized offerings and are priced accordingly.
WHAT MIGHT YOU WORK ON?
In his coaching work with entrepreneurs, his clients focus on the areas where they'd like to grow, which may include:
- Creating a strong sales conversation framework
- Building your referral network
- Lead generation through a relationships
- Growing your visibility in your industry
- Increasing your ability to attract the right kind of clients
- Identifying and launching a minimally viable offer
- Breaking through whatever bottleneck is holding you back from getting the results you want and deserve
- Becoming a published author and marketing your book successfully
- Improving your virtual presentation skills
LEARN MORE AND SCHEDULE A CHAT: www.robbiesamuels.com/coaching
Robbie is excited to support you in reaching or exceeding your goals.
Interested in booking Robbie to speak? At www.robbiesamuels.com/speaking you’ll find video clips and a description of his talks.
Watch his TEDx talk “Hate networking? Stop bageling and be the croissant!” at www.robbiesamuels.com/TEDx.
- Connect with Robbie on LinkedIn
- @RobbieSamuels on Twitter and Instagram
- New to his website? Start here
- On the Schmooze podcast archive – weekly since July 2016!
SIGN UP for his free weekly #NoMoreBadZoom Virtual Happy Hours – www.NoMoreBadZoom.com
Affiliate Links: Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links above are “affiliate links”. This means that if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products and services I use personally and believe will add value to my listeners. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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