Last Wednesday, Karen and I attended a Houston Astros’ baseball game thanks to Amoco Federal Credit Union Select Partner program (we love being a part of such a great group!). We had unbelievable seats overlooking centerfield in the new Budweiser Patio area. Although we were there to enjoy the game (by the way, a big win for the Astros), this networking event gave us the chance to meet lots of new people and share about our business. As I munched down on delicious nachos, I met Teresa Yehle, the Event Sales Manager at my new favorite place -- Top Golf!! She and I shared professional and personal information (I did let her know my idea about more positive, inspiring comments after bad shots -- see the 1/31 blog), and really enjoyed getting to know one another. As the game ended, we exchanged business cards. “Hardegree?” Teresa asked. “Are you Scott Hardegree’s wife?” Yep … she and Scott had worked together to coordinate a work function at Top Golf. She then shared a story about attending an awards ceremony in Las Vegas and meeting someone Scott works with. Wow! What a small world!! How many times have we exclaimed that? I find it amazing that almost everywhere I go, I eventually meet someone who knows someone who knows someone - you get the picture. From meeting a friend of my grandmother’s in a far away airport to my aunt and uncle running into one of my teacher colleagues during a vacation to Alaska to my son working with my brother’s high school classmate during an internship in South Africa -- you just never know who you might encounter. One of my mom’s favorite sayings is “Always wear clean underwear!” and although I am sure that we can come up with many ways, both literally and figuratively, to explain the meaning of the statement, she honestly is not talking about undergarments (even if clean ones are always a good idea!). The saying originally included, “You never know when you will be in an accident,” and implied that if you were in an accident and taken to the hospital, the doctors and nurses would judge you if you didn’t have on clean underwear. I’m pretty sure that underwear is the last thing anyone thinks about during an emergency, but my mom (and other moms who use the saying) are figuratively saying that you only have one chance to make that first impression. And you should always act in such a way that you won’t regret your behavior if you discover that you already have a connection with the people involved in the situation. So how can you always wear “clean” communication strategies? First, mind your manners. You heard me -- remember the old stand-bys. Say “please” and “thank you.” Offer assistance when needed. Engage in the conversation with no distractions. Next, make connections by asking questions. Work to find common ground -- here’s where the small world usually comes up. Finally, let the person know that you genuinely appreciate meeting and visiting with him or her. Exchange business cards if appropriate. You truly never know how that networking opportunity may impact you in the future. And don’t forget to also “wear clean underwear” with your digital communication. Follow the same rules, but don’t forget that your written message should be grammatically correct and watch your usage and spelling. Make sure that your social media is also “clean” and reflects the qualities that you want the rest of the small world to know. etc Strategies believes that wearing clean underwear (literally and figuratively) and using “clean” communication strategies will create a strong first impression in your personal life and professional life. And etc Strategies believes that moms are always right! Just ask my mom!