Thursday, June 12, 2008

Confidence in Yourself: Everyone Has Something to Offer

My previous post gave the link to Chris Brogan’s June 11th blog post about having confidence at meetings and conferences to go up to people you don’t know and introduce yourself. I also suggested reading the comments to this post.

And the comments from this post have been numerous and, mostly, insightful. Yet there’s one sentence in a comment that has been bothering me since I read it:

“… I tend to be very reserved as I question what I have to offer to the people that I am meeting.”

I’ve pondered this all day. Why must this person – let’s call him Tom – have to have something to offer the people he’s meeting? His having come to the conference to hear these people speak is enough of offering “something.” Speakers wouldn’t be speakers if they had no audiences. Speakers need audience members. Therefore, our Tom has already provided something valuable to the speakers.

And if Tom doesn’t mean the speakers he’s meeting, but instead he means the “important” people in the audience, the same thing holds. Speakers wouldn’t have a big audience if the only people they spoke to were “important” people. Speakers need to have “regular people” interested in the speakers’ presentations in order to have a satisfactory turn-out.

Okay, we’ve established that Tom is already offering something to the people he meets – he’s helping form an appreciative audience. And in addition, he’s offering himself.

Here’s the most significant thing to remember: Every person knows things that other people don’t know.

Now, Tom may not know he has unique information, and that unique information may not come up in a brief introduction, but that information is there ready to be mined by the right person. And who is the right person? Someone who is open to learning from anyone, may that anyone be ever so humble.

Let’s face it. Saying you have nothing to offer is hiding behind a façade. You have something to offer every single person you meet at a conference or meeting – be it as simple as where the men’s room is to what’s the next big internet site that will become “hot.”

Go forward and introduce yourself. The person open to learning from you may be the very next person whose hand you shake.

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