(This is the update to the series on Getting Invited to Powerful Rooms written by the Founder and sent to the SmarTRIBE™ community)
"You've heard of the term 'midnight deals'. These are extremely high-value contracts and opportunities that are made in a bar, on a golf-course, at an airport lounge or in a steam room in some fancy hotel gym in Nairobi or New York. Do you know that an estimated 80% of jobs are never published? That goes for deals and opportunities of any kind. The whole 'Country Club' industry is based on one theme: Exclusivity and access.
Now, I know you're reading this and are thinking, "What the hell, Cindy! I just left school/lost my job! I'm broke af... where am I supposed to even meet people who go to steam rooms??" Relax. I am about to surprise you.
Story time. The first time I ever got invited into a true Power Room was the year I had just slid out of law school and had been spit out into the cold, hard, post-college universe. It was an invitation into a high-level boardroom discussion hosted by the African Union in Johannesburg. Do you think anyone in that room knew me? Hell Naw! I was the youngest. They were looking for 'experts' in Economics (I was NOT an expert in anything), but guess who had added my name to that list? A facebook friend I had only met once face2face at the time. She was a very junior staffer (slightly above intern level) at the AU then. I remember telling her 'Ha! No way I qualify to be in that list. Please don't add me.' And she explicitly said, "Cindy, you have a voice that deserves to be heard. You're in". She later told me that one of her superiors was questioning my quaifications because of my date of birth. But I still somehow made it in. And I have never felt more at home than I did seated on that round-table and seeing all these 'experts' furiously nodding and agreeing with my ideas.
I get invited to Ambassadorial events because I smiled and interracted wonderfully with a library secretary who's easy to ignore; I got to moderate a high-level panel at the UN because a college buddy was organizing it and remembered I'm good at talking; I got to have a successful launch of a project because of a lady I randomly met in some hotel and we got to talking and she introduced me to someone who knows someone who became the champion of our project.
Do you see a pattern here?
People who get you into the spaces you want to get into are not the high-flying CEOs, the Directors or the Presidents (I tried; a lot of them hold the illusion of power and don't control their hires or their time). People who get you in are the real gate-keepers; the secretary manning the desk, your former school-mate, an entry-level person who is charged with creating a list. These are people so easy to ignore or assume, either because you know them and know their titles and it doesn't sound like much. Or you see them answering calls and serving tea and you're tempted to ask them to pour some for you; in a fresh cup, please.
What does that mean for you?
1. Talk to your friends. Let everyone know what you do (on FB, LI, etc). When people are discussing how they need someone for a position or a contract, let your name be mentioned in there, almost as the automatic go-to on matters to do with your industry. This goes back to last week's SmartMail™ on 'creating your own thing', being knowledgable and putting your name out.
2. Soft-Skills. Be geniunely kind and interested in people. Ask thoughtful questions. Have firm hand-shakes and eye contact. Be present, fully present when having a conversation and only give compliments when you actually mean them; whether you're speaking to a CEO or a watchman. Borrow a leaf from Bill Clinton as described in this Engage Talk. Show Up. Fully. Not because you want something from them, but because being truly listened to and seen is one of the greatest compliments you can give to anyone.
But there's something else: getting into a room is one thing. Getting to stay and being invited AGAIN is a whole other thing. Here's where you get to the CEOs, Directors, etc because THEY are the ones signing those cheques. Here's where you get invited to the golf course and country clubs and for midnight beers. How do you develop the kind of rapport that would allow you to make calls that get picked and emails that get answered?
How do you let your first success (being invited in), beget more success (getting the contracts, a second invitation, a job)?
Join our SmarTRIBE™ and get first dibs when we send out the SmartMail™ with that update.