Originally posted 13 Feb 20
Whether it’s trying to land a new job or a new deal or client, we often focus on making a good initial impression on people, especially when they don’t know us well or the stakes are high. One strategy people often use is to cater to the interests, preferences, and expectations of the person they want to impress. Most people, it seems, believe this is a more promising strategy than being themselves and use it in high-stakes interpersonal first meetings. But research I conducted with Ovul Sezer of the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill and Laura Huang of Harvard Business School found those beliefs are wrong.
Our research confirmed that catering to others’ interests and expectations is quite common. When we asked over 450 employed adults to imagine they were about to have an important professional interaction — such as interviewing for their dream job, conducting a valuable negotiation for their company, pitching an entrepreneurial idea to potential investors, or making a presentation to a client — 66% of them indicated they would use catering techniques, rather than simply being themselves; 71% reported believing that catering would be the most effective approach in the situation.
But another study we conducted found that catering was much less effective than being yourself. We asked 166 entrepreneurs to participate in a “fast-pitch” competition held at a private university in the northeastern United States. Each entrepreneur presented his or her venture idea to a panel of three judges: experienced, active members of angel investment groups. The ideas pitched were all in the early stages; none had received any external financing. At the end of the event, the judges collectively deliberated to choose 10 semifinalists who would be invited to participate in the final round. After entrepreneurs made their pitches, we had them answer a few questions about their presentations. We found that when they were genuine in their pitches, they were more than three times as likely to be chosen as semifinalists than when they tried to cater to the judges.
The info is here.