In the next post we'll continue with the social selling series, but in light of the holiday week, a bit of levity...

I recently traveled to give a presentation for the SMPS Foundation.  I knew my co-presenter,  and we had previously shared the podium at an event.  So despite the hundreds of miles that separated my office from the presentation location, I knew that I would already have a friend there.  Still, I was sure that I’d be meeting most of the audience for the first time.

So when I packed my suit and dress shirt for the event, I was sure to grab my secret weapon.

This weapon has been with me for more than five years.  It has started more conversations than I can possibly remember.  It has proven so formidable an ally at networking events that for Christmas last year I had my mother buy me another one.

What is this secret weapon, you ask?  Here’s a hint: it’s roughly one yard of silky, polychromatic firepower.   Here’s another: somebody once tried to buy it off my neck.

Until I owned this tie, I had no idea about the power that one could yield. 

It doesn’t matter where I go, when I wear this tie people talk about it.  I now know what a pregnant woman feels like when a total stranger approaches and touches her belly.  People everywhere want to touch this tie.  They don’t ask for permission, they just reach out and grab it.  Some stroke it.  Some rub it between their forefinger and thumb.  Some flip it over to see the label.  Men, women, children – it doesn’t matter.  They love the tie.

Walking down the streets of Philadelphia one day, a homeless-looking man happened by and said, “Wow, now that’s a nice tie.”

At networking events I feel like the accessory superhero.  Gone are the days of awkward silence.  I can simply stand there, and people will approach and say, “Wow, that’s a beautiful tie.”  This is usually followed by: “Where did you get it?”

I often say that life is a collection of stories, and effective business developers know the power of storytelling when pursuing a client or project.  So of course this simple male fashion accessory has a story, too.

Several years ago my wife and I were enjoying a weekend getaway in Williamsburg, Virginia, and we happened to be there during an arts festival.  Call it dumb luck rather than effective planning. 

We walked by a booth with amazing, colorful ties and scarves and shirts.  My wife was immediately drawn to the neckwear and went to one in particular.  “This,” she said, “will look good on you.”  And with that we dropped $45 for a tie. 

I’ll confess that I’m a pretty lousy color matcher when it comes to ties and dress shirts and suits and patterns.  My wife has had to train – and retrain – me so I know which shirts go with which suits and which ties.   Do you remember the Garanimal mix-and-match clothing?  That’s what I need: little animals sewn onto my clothing so I can match up my daily attire.  But this tie, well it has magical powers.  See, it goes with everything.  Maybe that’s why people like it.  Rainbows are boring compared to this tie.

It’s my favorite networking tie.  It’s my favorite public speaking tie.  It’s simply my favorite tie, and I really don’t like ties (they are just man-scarfs, right?).

My mother did a good job picking out a second one, but it seems a bit less powerful.  It’s more of a Robin to my Batman superhero tie.

So the next time you need a conversation-starter, practice smiling, saying hello, asking questions, and giving your elevator speech.  But don’t forget about your clothing accessories. 

I really want to keep the little studio that created it a secret.  After all, what happens if everyone else starts wearing superhero neckwear and scarves?  What will that do to me?  I’ll be Bruce Wayne again.  Or at least a poorer version of him. 

But this art studio has done so much for me, it’s time to pay it forward.  So check out SoLace at

Just remember, if you purchase an item from them, you will gain power.  You must learn to use that power wisely – and only for good.  And as for the guy who tried to buy the tie off my neck?  Well, he was president of an economic development organization, and a really likeable guy.  But he just wasn’t ready for it.  Not yet.