A tweed suit came in handy for this unexpected opportunity. (Also, check out this tweed suit post) I never thought I’d be at an invitation-only dinner and workshop hosted by the United Nations Foundation, but a friend of mine had a scheduling conflict and asked if I would step in for him. Sure! What could possibly go wrong? (Famous last words, right?)
I sat at my assigned table, listening to introductions of the other participants, and quickly learned that I was out of my league. These people were leaders and directors at a level that made me feel like a pip-squeak. What was I doing with these giants?! I nearly bolted from the room, I was that intimidated.
At least looked like I should be there, and that gave me some amount of confidence. Note the clean lines, classy neckline, and neutral tones of this tweed suit. Nothing screams “Look at me! I’m a millennial!” It’s not something I wear everyday at the office, and is dressier than the “business casual” standard the invitation had said. But I guessed people would be dressed upwards of casual. I was right. Word to the wise: it is better to over-dress than to be under-dressed for an occasion.
Most of the night, I just listened and took notes. But I did have a job to do–my friend had sent me to represent his organization and to gather as much information as I could. So, I did speak up. Only once did I make a remark, totally putting my foot in my mouth like a goober (I still grimace as I remember what I said). BUT, there was at least one comment I made that rallied others behind my opinion and progressed the conversation. (Inwardly, I was doing a victory dance. Outwardly, I kept my cool, as if making such a remark were not extraordinary for me). I didn’t speak out all the time or try meet every person in the room. That would have been overbearing and inappropriate. By observation and active listening, I located the individuals I needed to meet to further the agenda of the organization I represented. I approached these individuals humbly, with sincere appreciation for their insights, and let them lead the conversation. This helped me accomplish my objectives, and form good relationships. And that, my friends, is how you rock a dinner with the UN.