You’ve probably heard that you should always be selling. It doesn’t matter if you’re sporting a suit and tie at a conference pre-party or chatting business with a fellow parent at a kid’s birthday party: if the person you’re talking with could end up either hiring you or referring you to others, you better sell yourself to them.
And this is good advice. You should be “selling” yourself. Human relationships are forged on people selling themselves to others. (I had to sell myself to my college’s admissions office. I had to sell myself to every boss, client, and customer I ever worked with. I had to sell myself as a potential boyfriend, and later husband, to my wife).
But I think this advice can often lead people to think that selling is a win-or-lose game. That your job is to create a positive impression as quickly as possible, make your pitch before whoever you’re talking to becomes disinterested, and go in for the kill — I mean, the sale.