Imagine that you are hosting the most epic booze cruise ever. What would it look like?
Lemon drops. Glowsticks. Chicks twerking. Live hip-hop. Jagermeister shots. Your parents?
These are my parents “getting down” at an ice cream parlor in Princeton, NJ last Thanksgiving. They’re CRAAAZY.
By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard about Rob Gronkowski’s over-the-top bro-fest on the high seas. While most of the media coverage seems to be focused on deconstructing the societal impacts of “the Gronk” or on enjoying the general debauchery vicariously, I’m primarily interested in learning about how the Gronk can make us all better businesspeople.
Lesson One: Be Authentic
In the professional world, there is a lot of pressure to conform. Some of it is very real and some of it exists in merely the mind of the professional himself. While most of us certainly can’t act exactly the same at work as we do when on spring break, we should strive to the true to who we are within professional parameters. One of the reasons why people like Gronk is because he’s unapologetic about who he is. The guy brought his parents to a raging boat party and wasn’t concerned about his “street cred.” That’s pretty cool.
Lesson Two: Broadcast Yourself
Your personality is like a parcel of real estate. There is no other one exactly like it in the world. Like real estate, your personality should be an asset on your balance sheet and produce value for you. This works best if people actually know who you are and what you’re about (see Lesson One). The goal should be not to have everyone like you, even the Gronk isn’t batting 1.000, but rather to allow the people who are genuinely attracted to you and predisposed to doing business with you to surround you, while allowing the people who generally aren’t to stay away. While the Gronk went to pretty elaborate means to showcase his personality in this case, there are lots of simple things we can do to broadcast ourselves. We can join interest groups or organizations or we can host smaller events like lunch n’ learns or happy hours. We can play golf with our clients or serve on the board of a local nonprofit. Me personally? I like to broadcast myself through public speaking and writing inane blog articles. Is it working?
Lesson Three: Collaborate With Others
If you’ve spent any time networking, you have probably spent some time with a relative stranger talking shop at a Starbucks or a Corner Bakery. You probably have asked seemingly pointed questions like “Wh0 is your ideal client?” or “How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?” Of the conversations you’ve had of this variety, how many of them do you actually remember? Chances are they’ve all bled together into a unremarkable slurry of hazy memories. The bad news, your counterparts probably feel the same way about you.
So how do we stand out from the crowd? One effective way I’ve found of doing this is by looking for collaboration opportunities with the professionals I want to build a stronger relationship with. Just like Gronk recruited performing artists Flo Rida and Waka Flocka Flame to participate in his event, so too can you find opportunities to collaborate. The key here is making sure that all parties will benefit. In this case, Gronk was able to provide high profile entertainment for his guests while the performers got great publicity and media coverage that they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten. Similarly, you might try inviting your networking contacts to work on a joint client meeting, co-write an article, or give a presentation together. It’s easy to put your best foot forward when you’re at Starbucks, but collaborating on such projects really allow the participants to see each other in a different light. This often requires much more effort but it is a much more memorable experience and the increased social equity that is built is well worth it.
Imagine that you’re back at your boat party, but this time, you own the yacht. The sun is setting on the Carribean horizon and you raise a glass skyward. The glasses of your 100 closest friends rise in unison. “To Gronk” you say, “We couldn’t have done it without the lessons you taught us.” Jimmy Buffett’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise” starts playing as the sun fades to black.
All you have to do is reach out and make it happen.