I once met George Clooney. Well, "met" might not be the right word. We had an encounter. I was at a red light when he pulled up alongside me in a convertible. He was exactly as you would expect. Cool, confident ... Clooney. I was talking unsafely on my cell phone to my mother, as any good son would do, when I decided I wanted a better look. I lowered the passenger-side window to remove the barrier of glass between me and the Cloondog, but he busted me and the conversation went like this:
George: Who are you talking to?
Me: I'm talking to my mom -- telling her I'm looking at you.
George (with his signature smile): Say hello to mom for me.
And then he drove off into the sunset. For a brief moment, he made me feel like a 13-year-old girl who just got asked to middle school dance by the most popular boy in school (or what I would imagine that feeling to be like). Then, a depressing realization came over me. It was clear at that moment that I did not possess the "it" factor that George Clooney brings to the table.
What is this "it" thing that some people just seem to have? It's easy to say looks and talent, but "it" is more than that. After all, I waited tables with some very attractive Hollywood hopefuls that simply didn't have "it," and I attended acting classes with talented actors who didn't possess the unique intangibles. People with the intangible "it" have three-and-a-half qualities:
1. Importance. Everyone who has ever had an encounter with George Clooney has the same takeaway: George Clooney makes you feel like the most important person in the room. He didn't have to say anything to me at that stoplight, but he made me the most important person in his life for 13 seconds. You can channel your inner-Clooney and make people feel important in small and simple ways: sending someone a birthday note, buying a drink at a company happy hour, or simply writing an email to touch base "just because."
2. Positivity. There's a reason Jimmy Fallon is No. 1 in late night and Ellen is No. 1 during the day: Their positive energy is undeniable. This doesn't mean that you have to be smiling at all times; in fact, that can be creepy. (I call that Richard Simmons positivity. Richard Simmons has something, but it's certainly not "it.") You drink Clooney in, but you don't want to drink from the fire hose. A little bit of positivity can go a long way.
3. Mystery. This is the hardest one to capture, but can be a great tool. During my 13-second meeting with Clooney, I was already envisioning our lives together as best friends. We would take a private jet to his place in Cabo and he would come over to play video games with me and my roommates. I had it all planned out, but then he drove off, leaving me wanting more. Humans are wired a bit perversely in that we like that sensation. If you're on the dating scene and you get someone's number, what do you do? You wait a day or two to let them wonder what you think of them! This trick is as old as time and you can apply it to networking. Be the first one to leave the conversation and leave them wanting more.
And three-and-a-half: Keep showing up. Clooney was Jo's boyfriend in The Facts of Life and Booker in the first season of Roseanne. In both roles, he was light years from what he is today, but he kept at it and eventually he became ... well, Clooney. So keep at it and you too can be your office's Clooney!
Jack Stahlmann is a corporate speaker and founder of Don't Flinch, LLC. Visit www.dontflinchguy.com for more information.