An act of kindness landed me at a VIP NASA launch reception. When I received the unexpected formal invitation to NASA’s reception and launch, I thought it was a mistake until I recognized the handwritten signature. When I showed it to my boss, the dean of the college of business, he said, “Go!”
Fear grounded me. Then I realized it was time to apply what I’d taught students and professionals for years- how to apply mingling techniques in an unknown environment and have fun doing it. At that moment, I felt like a trained astronaut, I was ready for takeoff.
First, I listed my tasks for mingling with elite strangers.
· Develop a researchable topic for small talk in a field farther than the moon to me. (Not being a scientist, engineer, or dignitary, my challenge was finding a fitting topic that would provide a platform of interest in order to inquire of other guests and allow them to share opinions.)
· Focus on the truth that no matter a person’s education, career or position, they all want time, encouragement and acceptance.
· Pack proper attire for both events that would help me fit in, be approachable and have pockets for my business card holder with easy access.
· Put my fears aside and reach out as an ambassador for Christ, a representative of the university and as a reflection of what I teach.
· Most importantly-Pray!
An answer to many prayers resulted in finding an interesting topic I thought might generate fun feedback from the experts. In fact, the research turned out to be quite enjoyable.
With packed bags; plenty of business cards; a few tokens from the university; a fun topic tucked away in the event of a fear freeze would grab me; and prayer warriors on duty, my husband and I flew to Cape Canaveral for the launch of the STS-112 mission.
Upon arrival, I applied the actions steps of mingling at the VIP reception:
1. I sought our host of the event who sent me the invitation.
2. I thanked her for the honor and privilege to be part of this occasion.
3. I asked the host if there was anyone she wanted me to meet or any way in which I could assist them during the evening.
4. I interacted with the astronaut our host had introduced to my husband and me.
5. I made sure my husband remained with a group in which he felt comfortable.
6. I approached circles of three or more.
7. I reminded myself that mingling is not about me. Mingling is about reaching out to others in order to make them feel comfortable, to make new contacts and to set appointments.
At the end of the special evening, I felt honored to have attended such an event, overjoyed that I had made new friends and contacts and especially proud that Christ had allowed me to use my expertise to be an ambassador for Him. I have to admit, the night was a complete success, despite my initial fear. It even ended with me securing a potential speaker for our College of Business Distinguished Lecture Series because of connections I had made even before getting to the reception! (This story will be in another blog, on never knowing where and when you make a first impression that can help you in an unexpected place.)
Finding yourself frozen in fear or wondering how to mingle with others properly and appropriately is completely normal. The next time you’re faced with attending an event you’re not sure you can pull off, don’t give into the fear or insecurities! Instead, follow these simple rules, and ask god to use your unique gifts as His ambassador. He most certainly will!
We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.
2 Corinthians 5:20 a