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  • Awkward Networker

Be a +1 Hero

Which is worse?

A.) Being dragged to an event against your will by your significant other and told to “have fun”?

B.) Dragging your significant other to an event, only to be constantly reminded that he/she is not having fun.

While you shudder and reminisce those equal nightmares, consider how you would feel if someone completely rescued you from each of those horrible scenarios.  What kind of modern hero could accomplish such a feat?  After reading this post, maybe you.  And what benefit would the hero derive from this rescue?  Unwavering attention and admiration.

To bring this tip to life, I’ll share the story that first taught me this lesson.

It was 2008.  I was a junior at La Salle University, having just declared my eighth different major (yes, that’s true – I dreaded registration week more than finals week).  If you recall the job market in ’08, it wasn’t exactly a friendly environment for aimless liberal arts majors.  I was volunteering at a charity event one evening, helping patrons find their table cards at a $1,000/plate dinner.  I helped a nice couple find their table assignments, and welcomed them.  Within the first 10 seconds, I could tell that the husband was the seasoned professional and his wife was his +1.  Both were incredibly cordial and friendly, but I could feel from our interaction that the wife maybe wasn’t excited to be the guest this evening.

After exchanging pleasantries, my natural inclination was to charm the shoes off the seasoned professional.  No one just casually spends $2,000 on an event; I had to get to know this guy.  The man was pleasant, but his body language suggested his mind was preoccupied with the same question we are all preoccupied with when bringing a +1, “Is my guest having a good time?”  The casual glance-overs, the rubs on the back.  The signs were apparent.

“You look great, by the way!  Who are you wearing?”

She smiled cautiously and asked me to repeat the question.

“Who are you wearing?  I don’t know what that means, but it seems like something people say when there’s a red carpet involved.”

She chuckled and asked me my major.  I rattled-off my list of prior majors, along with the major I landed on – International Economics.  I asked her about herself.  Where she grew-up, how she met the man next to her.  Oh, wow and I can’t believe I didn’t ask your first names!  I don’t remember the rest of the conversation, but I remember her laughter and her smile.  What’s more, I remember the look on the man’s face – now void of all preoccupation, replaced with relief and enthusiasm.

Suddenly, I wasn’t the one wooing anymore.  He wanted to know everything about me.  We could’ve talked all night, so long as it entertained the one person in the room whose happiness he cared about the most.  As we parted ways, he handed me his card and said, “If your path ever leads you toward finance, give me a call.”

In 2009, I graduated college (far from the ideal finance candidate), and walked right into that man’s office for my first day of work.  I worked for him loyally til the day he retired.  He continued to build my career since that evening at the charity event, and to this day remains a strong mentor, life coach, and friend.

Though I didn’t realize what I was doing at first, I quickly learned a lesson that night I will never forget.  The most important person in the room is standing next to the most important person in the room.  Bring a smile to that person’s face.

Save the night.  Be a hero.  Enjoy the reward.

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