There’s a tiny little gap between suck and success — that place is called “fake it till you make it.” Throughout my entrepreneurial career, I’ve learned how to artfully master this paradise. Even in my lowest moments — I’m talking being so broke I couldn’t even afford Netflix and boxed wine — these quick tips helped me climb my way up the success ladder and fool even my toughest critics.
Dress the part.
Don’t show up to happy hour in a three piece suit. But whatever you’re wearing; own it. Put on your best look. No matter what, you must be comfortable in your own skin. When you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you can conquer even the most awkward conversation or situation with ease.
Speak just outside your listener’s realm of understanding.
Let’s say you’re at a cocktail party for your boyfriend’s law firm. Pick a topic that’s just outside the crowd’s realm of understanding. Don’t dive deep into corporate law. Chances are, your listener probably knows more about that topic than you do. On the same end, don’t go so far outside their realm that you find yourself talking about Beyonce’s greatest hits.
Allow one or two degrees of separation between topics. For example, you’re at a law firm. Law firms need to be organized, and stay on top of paperwork. Paperwork can be a pain in the butt, so bring up the digital atmosphere, and how going electronic with your filing heightens productivity.
Speak with confidence.
It’s better to not speak at all than speak with hesitation. If all you can do is muster out a shaky voice, stay silent. No matter how earnest you are, insecurity isn’t convincing.
Don’t be a know-it-all.
You don’t know everything, and you never will. The most successful people accept this, and openly admit their shortcomings. Let’s say I went up to Mark Zuckerberg right now and asked, “Do you consider yourself a social media expert? Do you know everything there is to know about social media?” He would probably say, “No. That’s why Facebook is always changing.”
Challenge the naysayers.
When you appear confident, some people will question you. They’ll try to catch you off guard, and make you look “less than” in front of a crowd. Focus on flipping the spotlight back in their direction. Redirect with questions like, “What makes you say that?” This will force your confronter to be candid about their thought process.
Get good at self-policing.
Know when to call BS on your own progress. Admit when you’ve fallen short and dropped the ball. When you call a spade a space; no one can hate too hard on your error. But, if you’re trying to cover up all your mistakes, people will easily find fault and question your authenticity.
Conquer mini projects.
Set small goals that pack a big punch. Instead of saying, “I want to be a writer,” say “I want to be writing for Entrepreneur Magazine by December of 2016.” Then, conquer these goals.
Take long pauses, and think before you speak.
I used to be a fast talker. Like seriously — I would trip over my own words, trying to catch up with my own brain. As a young 20 something, I tried to rush in every last thought, just so my voice would be heard. In all actuality, this was doing just the opposite. When you take your time, people pay attention. Bonus tip: Eliminate passive language and unecessary adverbs.
Create a sense of mystery.
You want people asking, “Who is that?” For them to have this burning sense of curiosity, you need to stay somewhat mysterious. Don’t go throwing your business card every which way when you attend a function. Keep your contact information exclusive. Imagine yourself to be more important than you actually are.