Network Like a Boss: 'Be The Mayor Method'
Sharing the skills I learned from my Grandpa; a Loud, Italian-American, Brooklynite
“Hey Jack.. this line is outrageous!”
Yes, that’s a real opener that my grandpa, Poppy, used to approach a security guard worker - a total stranger - during our visit to the Statue of Liberty pre 9/11.
With a three hour line ahead of us on a sweltering New York City summer day, Poppy went to work on what I like to call: “Be The Mayor Method.”
You see, Poppy taught me a really valuable lesson growing up that would later fuel both my personal and professional successes. Any time we would go out in public whether it was the grocery store, a restaurant, the doctor's office, gas station or even just strolling down the street, Poppy’s ability to strike up casual conversation with strangers is unmatched.
And listen, he isn’t the most charming or handsome of guys (sorry, Pop).
Poppy is a rough, Italian-American guy with a polarizing Brooklyn accent to boot, but he knows he can win anyone over in a few short sentences. He became the champ at building his network by finding commonalities in the world.
My whole family would jokingly call him ‘The Mayor' and collectively roll our eyes as we tried to pull him out of the local pizza joint or coffee shop as he carried on with another spontaneous friend.
I would watch people's reactions of him as they would go from 'what the hell does this guy want,' to genuinely smiling and acting as if they had made a new friend.
After his interactions, Poppy would turn to me and say, "No one is above you, kid. Don't be afraid to talk to anyone. We all put our pants on one leg at a time."
So, here is how Poppy put on The Mayor hat and how you can do it too:
The Mayor is not afraid - Poppy strikes up casual conversation because he’s confident that his next steps will get him into the friend zone.
The Mayor finds common ground at the start- whether it’s the weather, a crazy long line or something else in the immediate environment that naturally connects him with the person standing in front of him.
The Mayor asks questions and he’s genuinely curious - Poppy asks questions about the other person (this is key!)… as Poppy says, “people love talking about themselves.” Once he gets them talking about their job, their life, their kids, he relates to them by sharing some of his own stories.
There is no doubt in my mind that Poppy made sure to share a few stories with the Statue of Liberty security guard about his experience working on the Twin Towers when they were first built - throwing in some commonalities of having to deal with the crowds and tourists.
The Mayor is ready with his call to action - Poppy knows his end game before he even goes into the conversation. He’s strategic. He believes in six degrees of separation and operates by it. He knows that this person either has the ability to make decisions or knows someone else that can.
So, if he wants the best seat in the restaurant or a referral to the best barber; he has his ‘call to action’ on lock but he’s open to negotiating and that’s where the real magic of the method happens. He always leaves the conversation with some type of goal met, even if it’s just to play the long game in a continued relationship.
When we finally entered the main doors of the Statue of Liberty that day - my mom, brothers, grandma and I - gasped as we saw the very slow moving line that continued up the 354 steps to the top. We were beyond ready to give up.
But out of seemingly no where, Poppy and one of his new security guard friends escorted us to the glass elevator to bypass the line.
Poppy smirked at us as he watched our shocked faces as the elevator climbed to the top of the Statue of Liberty- skipping floors upon floors of stairs with masses of people slowly continuing their pilgrimage.
Then Poppy casually turned to our family and said “I guess it pays to be The Mayor."