Think about the last time you walked into a room for a networking event you’ve never been to before. You aimlessly strolled around, fiddled with the cocktail in your hands, and avoided eye contact at all costs, right? Or at least it felt that way.
We rarely think about improving social skills. We figure we either have them or we don’t – which is far from the truth. A social skill – is well, a skill! And you can master it like any other skill.
I recently spoke with Myka Meier. She’s director of the Plaza Hotel Finishing Program with Beaumont Etiquette and author of the Etiquette Made Easy book series. Myka went from growing up in Sarasota, Florida, to serving Prince Charles a gin and tonic. Wild, right?!
We usually think of etiquette as holding fancy forks and knives but Myka says otherwise. Etiquette is about respect, consideration and putting others first with confidence. And lucky for us, Myka lays out a Confidence Formula to help business owners like you master social skills.
With Myka’s Confidence Formula, (with your added unique personality of course!) you’ll become a social butterfly no matter where you go:
Internal Confidence: Become a Character
Quiz time! Who is someone you admire for their confidence? It could be a character out of a movie, someone you know, or even a grandparent.
Got them in your head? Good! Now think about their behavior. Things like their voice, their personality, and the way they interact with people.
The first step to exuding confidence and charm is becoming this exact person. I don’t mean copying them or stealing their wardrobe because that’s very much frowned upon. Instead, I mean practice being like them in different situations.
For sake of example let’s say you admired Jenna Kutcher (because I certainly do!) Now ask yourself how she would act in certain situations. If she’s about to order a cheeseburger from McDonald’s what would she say? How would she say it? What would her body language look like?
The more you act like this person, the more you will start thinking like them. Overtime, you’ll approach different events or situations with the same confidence.
External Confidence: Dress the Part & Master Your Voice
Am I the only one who loves getting dressed for work even though I work from home? Putting on my makeup and a blazer empowers me to show up for my clients and my team.
Feeling confidence is important but should show people your confidence too. Myka explains it’s easy to show confidence through your wardrobe and your voice.
Shooting for that managerial position? Pitching yourself to a high ticket client? Begin to dress like the role you want to be in. And if that means heels and a crisp blazer then you need to own it girl!
It goes back to acting like that “character.” Dressing like you own the place will make you start to feel like it.
Something else to think about is changing your tone of voice. Let’s say a speaker approaches the stage looking like she’ll nail her keynote. But if she starts with a dainty voice, she’d lose your attention right away. Now don’t think a confident voice means a loud voice – focus on speaking with authority instead.
Practice a “business” voice throughout the day to build your authoritative speaking muscle. Remember the McDonalds example? While you’re going to order a cheeseburger with extra fries you might as well do it confidently!
Business Confidence: Organize Yourself & Prepare Ahead of Time
There’s internal confidence, external confidence, and straight up confidence in what you do. I can confidently say (see what I did there?) that I know the ins and outs of the wedding industry because I’ve spent the last 13 years building my career around it.
There’s no way to fast track experience, though. Newsflash: this takes time. But hiring a mentor, taking a course, or joining a network, are a few ways to boost your know-how in the meantime.
The most confident people prepare ahead of time. Whether you are presenting or pitching to a client – knowing what you’re talking about will in turn make you more confident.
Going to a networking event? This could mean practicing your elevator pitch a week out and not on the drive there.
Pitching a prospect? Know their questions ahead of time and have answers ready. You’d be surprised the difference this makes in someone’s decision making to hire you over someone else.
So stop flying by the seed of your pants girl! Do the research and prep work no matter where you go so people can feel your confidence a mile away.
What if People Judge Your Change of Character?
“My friends are gonna judge me if I start dressing or acting differently.” Myka says if somebody acknowledges your self improvement – comment back with appreciation. Respond with “Thank you so much for noticing. I have been trying so hard to work on a new you know, look, I appreciate that.” Give it to them back.
People can’t complain about that, right? And most times people don’t care about the change you’re making. It only throws them off because they’re seeing a side of you they aren’t used to.
As a professional, you’ll always be changing and evolving. It’s better to change now than staying exactly the same anyways.
Confidence Lives Inside of You – So Let the World See!
I don’t know about you – but all this talk about confidence makes me want to get out there and start practicing! Before you know it, you’ll be thriving at every event. You won’t even remember the days you worried about showing up because it will come so naturally. Can I get a heck yes?!