Bravado is baloney

Bravado is baloney

“Never let them see you sweat!”

“Keep your weaknesses close to your chest!”

“Don’t read like an open book!”

Often, when it comes to networking, we’re encouraged to present ourselves in a way that is strong and impressive in the hopes that others will naturally gravitate towards us. There is, however, one undeniable problem with going into a networking event with this attitude: it simply doesn’t work.

This attitude is not confidence – it is bravado. And bravado is baloney.

 Yes, presenting yourself with confidence is key when it comes to attracting individuals and business opportunities, but bravado – for example bragging, or seeking attention at all times – is likely to put people off, rather than help them warm to you. It suggests that you’re insincere, have something to hide, or are overcompensating for something.

A certain level of vulnerability, on the other hand, is a good thing. In many ways, it is a strength, rather than a weakness. It shows that you’re human. Being open with the people you meet, confiding in them and being authentically you, is a great way to build relationships on trust and mutual understanding. This way you’re more likely to find yourself surrounded with open and honest people, rather than superficial people. 

Chew on this:

How can you use honesty to create authentic relationships with people you meet?

Pep up the pleasantries

Small talk is a key skill when it comes to networking – it’s a crucial tool when it comes to establishing equality and familiarisation between two people who have just met.

Often, the temptation is to default to cliché conversations about traffic or the weather, but this is unlikely to help you make your mark. So how can you stand out from the crowd without being controversial?

Start with substance

“Nice weather, isn’t it?” – How many times have you opened with this line? It’s easy to do, but it doesn’t really mean anything or help you get to know the other person. Start with something of substance – talk to people about mutual connections, events you have been to, or training that you’re undertaking that they might be interested in.

Add humour

Tickling someone’s funny bone is a great way to be remembered. Add a little bit of humour now and again where you can, but remember to avoid controversial topics.

Ask questions

This is key, but the secret is in how you do it. Don’t be inquisitive, but exploratory. For example, add context to your questions. Rather than saying “what is your biggest challenge right now?” or “how can I help your business?”, ask someone what their business is and how a recent event or relevant news piece is currently affecting their business, whether for better or for worse.

Chew on this:

What small talk pitfalls do you tend to fall into, and how can you avoid them?


Author: Safaraz Ali
My career began in the financial services sector and since 1999, I have been involved in the world of business. I am Head of Pathway Group, which is a workforce development solutions provider. Pathway Group specialise in apprenticeship training and recruitment. I also offer independent strategy, advice, and investment for a wide range of private business sector. These include: social care, education, training, and recruitment.