When networking with new people, they can be classified in two camps: the professional class and the working class. For some reason, it’s hard to break into one class from the other, especially from the working class into the professional class. It requires more humanity.
The professional class is made up of those we identify as successful. They generally network among their own, those with polish, poise and personality. The working class is made up of those just starting out. They can be hungry and fiercely independent, and often insecure. They have ideas and roam around with very little contact with the professional class, mostly because they are too busy trying to promote themselves rather than others.
I am writing from the Social Media Marketing World Conference in San Diego, a gathering of several thousand marketers and social media enthusiasts from around the world. Networking and meeting people is the name of the game. I have met some really interesting people, and yet one thing gets in the way over and over, it’s the third type of person, the vanity class.
The vanity class makes things difficult for the professional and working class. For example, I just witnessed Guy Kawasaki in the hall walking toward me. Within moments of making eye contact, he was interrupted by several dozen people wanting a picture with him. I understand this. I kind of want the same. However, I have questions, very disruptive questions, about business modeling, leadership, and I have ideas about building optimism in organizations in ways nobody has considered. Because of this, I always need more time to ask serious questions and the vanity class seems to always get in the way. Kind off stinks.
There are two ways to break from the working class into the professional class. The first is hard, the second is political. I prefer the hard way. If you want to understand the political way, read The Political Optimist that I published and now available on Amazon and Lulu. The Genuine Optimist will be published in 2018, just so you know.
While attending this conference, several people have walked up to me to talk about my shirt. On the front it says The Genuine Optimist. On the rear it says A Renaissance is Coming.
I get a lot of attention with this shirt. People ask, “hey, that’s cool, are you a Genuine Optimist?” I then say, “I am a genuine optimist for a rising tide that lifts all boats.” After I get them hooked, I stop, look them in the eye, and I ask them about who they are and about their focus in life. In other words, I have learned to pitch myself briefly, often in less than 10 seconds, and then I get on to their heart and their drive as soon as possible. Believe it or not, this is the fastest way to transition to the professional class. It’s hard because you have to suppress your own vanity and let your working class mindset sink below the water line.
A young lady just stopped by my table and noticed my shirt. Her name is Kate Buck Jr. She is from Austin Texas, really cool person. You can see her at www.kbjonline.com. She is a social marketer, coach and speaker, always for hire. The Jr. in her name is from her husband, who is a Jr himself. To set her brand apart from the world of other marketers, speakers and coaches, she added Jr. to her name, like I do with Genuine Optimist to help set myself apart from the world. If you plug in Genuine Optimist in any search, I own it, the same way Kate owns Kate Buck Jr online.
Kate is the first women I have ever met with a Jr in her name. Had I not taken the time to ask this about Kate, I would have never known that I met the first unique person of her kind in the world.
I now know Kate Buck Jr. She may not know why a rising tide lifts all boats and how I help to scale optimism in organizations, but I am certain she will dig for it. What is important is that I am now a proud member of the professional class. People in the professional class do more digging to learn about others and less work pitching themselves.
The next time you meet someone, challenge yourself to dig more. And if you are interesting, they will dig to find out who you are. When this happens, you have found a like mind.
And if anyone knows Guy Kawasaki, please forward this to him, I have some digging to do in his direction. A renaissance is coming and he needs to know. Heck, everyone needs to know.
Keith R Kelsch, The Genuine Optimist