I was recently at a Chamber conference and heard the old saying, “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu!” We all got a chuckle, but it really made me think about why people are asked to be at the table in the first place. What makes someone the kind of person who gets invited to the table? I asked some key people in my business circles and this is what they had to say:
- Having something interesting to say. Don’t you relish sitting next to someone who always has something interesting to say? For most of us, an invitation to any table comes with some lead-time, so there is no excuse not to have some interesting topics in your back pocket. Even an introvert can do this!
- Knowing what’s going on in your industry. People enjoy hearing about new, fresh trends and ideas. This boils down to staying curious and being open to new types of thinking and new ways of doing things. This is how you create a reputation of being an expert in your field, and become a person whom others seek out to hear about what’s coming around the corner.
- Being genuinely interested in other people. People love to be asked what they think about things and what ideas they have. Those we find the most charming are usually those who have the ability to draw us out and make us feel special and interesting. When you purposefully listen, you create trust and rapport. People who create trust and rapport get invited back to the table.
To make sure you always have a place at the table, whether that’s social, work, leadership or otherwise, ask if yourself if you’re demonstrating the types of characteristics of those who are sought after. If you’re not, then get out of your own way and start making changes today!
Ask yourself these questions: How have I demonstrated my strengths and capabilities? Are my communications skills, written and oral, as proficient as they should be? Do I have the ability to engage others and get things done? Have I established a strong personal brand of presence and competence?
If you answered no to any of these questions, you may be your own worst enemy. In today’s business world, you’re either moving up or moving out, so be sure to take the proper steps to always keep moving onward and upward. How do you do this? One of the best ways is to engage three mentors, one within your organization, one within your industry, and one completely outside of both, all with unique (and candid) insights on your core strengths and weaknesses. Another way is to profile the leaders you wish to model and then identify the gaps of your current abilities and where you would like to be in the future.
How are you staying off of the menu?