Super smart, very creative, and ultra-conservative, Steve found himself without a job in his mid-50’s. Married with two children, he lives in the burbs, drives a Prius, and likes to read science fiction in his spare time. Now he’s scrambling to find work and a means to support himself and his family.

Socially Awkward

Although Steve has an amazing talent for seeing the big picture and applying ideas from many disciplines to generate solutions, he struggled to find a new position because he behaves awkwardly around people. He becomes tongue-tied at a networking event when someone asks the dreaded question, “What do you do?” He doesn’t know what to say or how to follow up. Despite his intelligence, he is clueless about how to move the conversation towards his desired goal, which is finding a job opportunity. Even though he doesn’t consider himself in sales, Steve must learn to sell himself to a prospective employer.

Here are some of his challenges when selling himself. Steve waits for someone to approach him. He doesn’t seek to talk with other people. He’s unsure how to start a conversation, move it forward, or end it. He’s the type that drops his eyes, turns his back, and walks away abruptly. Once he gets started, however, he goes into depth and may talk for several minutes nonstop. None of these behaviors win him points or build rapport. What should he do?

Socially Adept

Here are some suggestions for Steve and people like him. First, practice extending your hand, looking the other individual squarely in the eye, and giving a firm handshake. Initially, Steve felt funny taking the initiative to greet someone this way. When he began to understand this behavior as input and data, he developed more confidence in doing so.

Develop and practice a few opening questions to use at the outset. Rather than pose the usual inquiry about one’s occupation, Steve formed one he likes, “What kinds of problems do you solve for your clients?” He makes himself listen and then summarize what he heard. By having the other individual begin the conversation, it allowed him to match the response in the amount of information given.

Steve also created an elevator pitch. Eliminating jargon, he learned how to state concisely the benefits of the skills he brings to the job market. He no longer tries to download everything about his past employment when asked; rather he makes a judgment about whether to schedule an in-depth conversation at a later time. If so, he exchanges business cards and makes a follow-up appointment. He has also mastered an exit strategy so that he can leave the conversation without coming across as being abrupt or rude.

Having a strategy and script for what to say during the meeting and afterward has reduced Steve’s anxiety, boosted his confidence, and generated potential business opportunities. He’s using his intelligence to earn him job interviews and close the sale.

About Dr. Nancy Zare

A psychologist and retired professor, Dr. Nancy Zare has dedicated her life to helping people communicate more effectively. From her experience in both business to business and business to consumer sales, Nancy founded Rapport Builderz in 2012, to provide training, coaching, and consultation for selling onself. She originated the AlikeAbility™ System to teach people how to read personality styles, build better relationships, and generate more business. Ask for your free copy of The 4 Magical Questions to Close More Sales.

Understanding that many entrepreneurs and independent salespeople put off doing marketing activities consistently, Nancy now offers membership to the SalesWiz Club. An affordable way to keep on track and build success habits. It provides daily coaching, structure, support, and accountability online.