Be There and Be Square

Company Culture, Entrepreneurs Posted Jan 21, 2015 by chenpr

If you read my regular Tip Sheet series here, you may have picked up on the fact that I’m interested in learning new ways to improve my networking skills. I’m not a shy person, but I consider myself an introvert; I’ve never been comfortable in crowds. I admire people with the guts and grace to work a room without offending or alienating everyone in their wake, but have long since come to grips with the fact that I’m not one of those people.

Christina Park’s Forbes column for networking introverts has become a favorite of mine because it provides practical advice for people like me, offering new ideas and reinforcing strategies that can help me be more successful when I’m socializing.

But I’ve learned a thing or two on my own over the years and thought I’d share a recent experience that might prove useful (or at least slightly amusing).

When I am faced with the prospect of attending an event and a room full of strangers, I like to have something that I can count on as a source of confidence. Usually that talisman is a partner, whether a co-worker or acquaintance, who I know I can talk to when I need a moment or two to screw up my courage or give me a swift kick in the pants when needed. But I recently found a new charm that has been a dose of conversational magic and self-assuredness and I want to share this secret with you.

squareThe pocket square!

Not long ago I ran into a chap named Marvin Venay and struck up a brief conversation. I liked Marvin immediately and so invited him to CHEN’s Saturnalia party in December where I got to know him a little more and learned that (among many other things) he’s a maker of custom-sewn pocket squares. Uncharacteristically (I’m no fashion plate) I knew I had to have one, and so arrangements were made. After the holidays Marvin gave me my new accoutrement – a square in two diagonal halves. One half a solid green and the other a splash of complementary colors that is tastefully eye-catching.

I’ve folded and tucked that piece of fabric in the pocket of my sports jacket on a few occasions since and I can’t tell you whether it’s the square alone or the change in attitude that comes from knowing that I’ve patch of panache peeking from my pocket, but it has given me a boost. And at each event there has been at least one person who has approached me to compliment me on the added color.

Gimmick? Maybe, but a tasteful one and, in my case, I can’t argue with the positive effect it has had. Is a nifty, custom pocket square your ticket to social success or will your source of confidence and conversation be found in something else? Whatever it is, if you haven’t already found it I hope you find it soon and that it brings you success.