- ©2014 Rick Smolan/Against AllOdds
Most people just aren’t interesting in the way they communicate, marketing consultant Jon Levy told Business Insider.
Over the past six years, Levy has built the Influencers, a network of more than 400 interesting and impressive people that includes everyone from Nobel laureates to Olympic athletes.
Twice a month, Levy holds private dinner parties and TED Talk-like salons in the sprawling New York City apartment his parents passed on to him.
Even though Levy himself isn’t a recognizable celebrity, he’s able to consistently meet people at the top of their fields and leave a lasting impression.
A key differentiating factor: He refrains from the boring, direct way people often begin talking about themselves. He doesn’t lead with a job.
“When people ask me what I do, I try to be a little elusive just to create some interest. So I tell people I spend most of my life trying to convince people to cook me dinner,” he said, laughing.
Levy may have an interesting life, but launching into an explanation about his career and how he began hosting networking dinners, in the way most people do when they introduce themselves, would likely come across more as burdensome than intriguing. The benefit of his tongue-in-cheek introduction, then, “is that it sounds so different and then it’s much easier to connect.”
And if someone doesn’t directly ask what you do, you may be best off delaying the job-talk for as long as possible. Levy has his dinner guests spend the majority of the evening refraining from discussing any aspect of their occupation, and encourages salon guests to do the same, so that they can first get to know each other personally.
New Yorker contributor and “The Confidence Game” author Maria Konnikova found this endearing when she attended one of Levy’s dinners and salons. “At the salon, you’re just enjoying the evening and figuring out which people you actually like, regardless of whether they can be helpful to you,” she said.